Different Australian visions are often portrayed in various texts and motion pictures. Australian film Strictly Ballroom 1992 is a great example as the director uses very over-the-top and theatrical style of filmmaking to present a humorous story that reflects various ideals in Australian society with cinematography and film techniques. The movie not only showcases the persona of the underdog especially through the character of Fran, but also illustrates the concept of multiculturalism and the idea of achieving dreams on the land of Australia, which are all concepts that relates to different aspect of Australian visions. On the other hand the poem ‘My country’ written by Dorothea McKellar, expresses other ideals of Australia that are more directly related with the land. Through the use of poetic techniques such as metaphor the poet was able to depict both the natural danger and beauty of the nation that are also valued as important part of Australian visions. One of the main focuses of the movie Strictly Ballroom is the characteristic of the underdog, a term that is closely associated with Australian values.
The belief of giving everyone a fair go is fully expressed through the story arc of Fran, whom like the ugly duckling was transformed into something beautiful by the end of the movie. This concept is expressed through the Baz Luhrmann’s portray of this character. The juxtaposition between her first appearance and her performance at the end fully showcases Fran’s role as the underdog. This is reinforced with her red dress and the lighting used during the ending of the movie. Differs to other contestants’ clothes that looked superficial and over-the-top, the authentic colour of red used for Fran made her stood out as a glamorous, confident and beautiful woman, which is completely different to her seemingly unattractive first appearance from the start of the film.
This is further on supported by the lighting of the movie, which not only focuses on her and Scott’s dance, but also stresses the affect of the red costume, making the dress almost a dramatic symbol of her successful transformation and achievement within this film. On the other hand, the impact of her appearance also fully represents Australian’s idealisation of the underdog. Another theme of Strictly Ballroom is the idea of multiculturalism as this movie depicts the transformed modern society that accepts and embraces cultural differences. This is expressed through the use of music in the film. For most part of the movie the music used is traditional ballroom scores or Australian classic songs such as ‘time after time’, which makes the simple instrumental Spanish music played in Fran’s house stood out. This not only illustrates the differences between Fran and Scott’s background but also puts the audience into the character’s shoes to experience another type of dancing and culture that exists on the land of Australia.
This concept is again strengthened at the last scene of the movie when all the audiences joined with Scott’s parents and danced together. The long shot that presents the unified crowd combines with mid shots that focus on specific people like Fran’s father who has different background reinforce the positive connotation of multiculturalism. This also presents Strictly Ballroom as a movie that mirrored the value of contemporary Australian society, which is all about acceptance and embracement. The pursue for dream is a concept that is highly valued in Australia and the movie Strictly Ballroom relate this idea with the notion of overcoming fear and the challenge of authority. The focus on lines such as “A life lived in fear is a life half lived” shows the importance of this in relation to the character’s will of achieving their goals. However their desire is often dishearten by the dancing federation.
The continuous use of low angle shots and the lack of music playing when characters such as Barry Fife talked establish their state of power, which the main characters have to conquer. This also made the scene from end of the movie highly symbolic. With the success of Scott and Fran’s performance, there was a high angle shot depicting a falling Fife who tumbled with the trophies on the table that contrasted with the previous use of low angel shots. This scene not only served as a comic relief for its audience but also represents the downfall of the authority, stressing the significance of this confrontation in terms of the Scott and Fran’s accomplish of their dream. In context of this film, these ideas reflect the possibility of reaching one’s goal in Australia. Just like the persona of the underdog this also relate to the stereotypical notion that this land typify a sense of hope and opportunity.
My country written by Dorothea Mackellar is a poem that illustrates both the natural beauty and danger of Australia, depicting very different visions of the same nation in comparison to Strictly Ballroom. The poet’s repeated usage of various stones to describe the nature scenery of this country not only stresses the authenticity of those features, but also made the stones a metaphor for the land’s flawlessness. This is seen through lines such as ‘An opal-hearted country’ and ‘Sapphire-misted mountain’, which continuously reinforce the genuine notion of beauty in Australia. On the other hand Mackellar also uses personification to describe the danger of this land. Lines such as ‘Her beauty and her terror’ and ‘her pitiless blue sky’ strengthen the image of the threating nature environment, giving the readers a real sense of fear and adoration for the poet’s country. Even though this text shared limited similarity with Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom, it still manages to express visions and depictions of Australia that is highly valued in this nation.