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Belonging in ‘Strictly Ballroom’ by Baz Lurhmann

What do you think the most powerful influences that impact on an individual’s sense of belonging?

  • Strictly Ballroom by Baz Lurhmann
  • The Red Tree by Shaun Tan
  • Who you are by Jessie J

You will almost always find where you belong if you search for it. So ultimately a sense of belonging comes down to perception. This starts from places and/ or relationships, which potentially alter your understanding or you and the world around you, so you can accept the person you are and your individual identity by creating this sense of belonging.

In strictly ballroom by Baz Lurhmann, The Red Tree by Shaun Tan and who you are by Jessie J the composers use a wide range of techniques to convey the ideas belonging through forcible authority, challenging authority and alienation. These are illustrated through the concept of belonging to a person or place. These three ideas demonstrate what the most powerful influences are that can cause someone to feel a part of something or not.

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Forcible authority is illustrated in the film ‘Strictly Ballroom’ by Baz Lurhmann.

Forcible authority is when a person or group has the power to make you feel a certain way that you may not agree on and make you feel as though you do or don’t belong. This is conveyed in the film when Barry Fife the president of Australian Dance Federation (ADF) forces Scott Hastings to dance a particular way. The forcible authority is demonstrated in Strictly Ballroom with close ups and bright lighting on Barry’s face.

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This creates attention and power to the audience’s concept on Barry. Scott then feels isolated from the ADF as a result of Barry’s ideas for the ADF.

Forcible Authority is also shown in ‘The Red Tree’ by Shaun Tan. This is conveyed through visual techniques of the little girl standing alone in many pages of the book. The concept of a powerful influence is a little red leaf with “without sense or reason” this demonstrates herself as a symbol of the ‘little red leaf’ with many factors contributing to that idea. E. g. ‘The little girl with the red hair’ The little girl becomes frustrated by society and not being able to find her place or where she feels she belongs without sense or reason.

Here the most powerful influences that influence the little girl is her on mind set on other people and how she see’s everyone trying to conform and belong to a place she hasn’t been nor understands. Forcible authority is again conveyed in the song ‘who you are’ by Jessie J through the singers lyrics. Jessie illustrates a strong opinion on society’s sense of belonging when she states “forget how to fit the mold, yeah!” this informs the audience that society’s conception of belonging is based on a mould and she feels out casted because she doesn’t know how to find her place in society anymore.

Jessie feels as though society has clung to a certain way of thinking and living, this is because of the forcible authority, which is the society as a powerful influence on Jessie’s sense of belonging. Challenging Authority is another idea shown in ‘strictly Ballroom’ this can be when you choose to do something about following other rules from a higher authority. This is illustrated when Scott is introduced to Fran’s grandmother Ya Ya. She explains that dancing comes from the heart.

The close ups of Ya Ya’s hands beating the traditional rhythm of the Paso Doble on Scott’s chest gives both Scott and Fran the inspiration to dance their own moves which demonstrates to the Audience how they are challenging authority and now have somewhere to belong to. Challenging authority is illustrated in ‘The Red Tree’ when the little girl struggles to find herself in society; this becomes an issue throughout the whole book, always feeling as though she didn’t belong. The very last page is her standing in her room with a large Red Tree filled with lots of red leaves and you can see that she has accepted herself in the society.

She has done this because she has a glowing smile on her face. Jessie demonstrates challenging authority in “Who you are” by giving advice to other people to be yourself instead of living a lie and following society’s rules. This is illustrated when Jessie sings “Don’t lose who you are in the blur of the stars! ” Alienation is the estrangement of somebody who is forced or unforced to distance people from each other or of people from what is important or meaningful to them.

Strictly Ballroom demonstrates many moments of alienation, one particularly is Scott feeling as though he doesn’t belong in the ADF because he doesn’t confine with the ballroom dancing rules. This is illustrated when himself and Fran dance their own steps and cause a stir in the ADF judging, this is a powerful impact on belonging because if you don’t follow the rules you are forced to feel neglected. Alienation is also illustrated in The Red Tree through pictures and descriptive language. The visual technique as quoted, “nobody understands”, It is raining and the brushstrokes are soft but distinctive nd the colours are dull and dark creating the audiences idea of how the girl is feeling. The girl is a seclusion to society showing her being an ‘outsider’, the visual techniques are a powerful influence to belonging and clearly demonstrate how the girl feels alienated by society. Jessie J also shows alienation in ‘Who you are’ by the visual technique in the film clip, Jessie sings “Sometimes it’s hard to follow your heart. ” In this particular part she is sitting in an empty bathroom with dim lighting, this demonstrates her feelings of loneliness and confusion.

Jessie feels confused because she doesn’t know what the right thing to do is and this causes her alienation to the environment she is in, this particular songs provides proof with her excluding herself from society until she makes up her mind. Jessie being the most powerful influence as she is the only one making the decision to alienate herself. Strictly Ballroom by Baz Lurhmann , The Red Tree by Shaun Tan and Who you are by Jessie J all convey powerful influences such as authority to demonstrate people belonging and not belonging . This is conveyed through the techniques of forcible authority, challenging authority and alienation.

Cite this page

Belonging in ‘Strictly Ballroom’ by Baz Lurhmann. (2018, Oct 24). Retrieved from

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