Literary Essay [500 words]


Luhrmann takes many oppurtunities to juxta-oppose the world of Flamenco and the world of ballroom dancing. The first example would be through his use of the movie\'s soundtrack. In Kendall\'s dance studio and at the try-outs we hear classical music, often the Blue Danube [because it is readily perceived as being conservative]. However, whenever Scott is with Fran at her home, we hear vibrant Spanish music with lots of beats in it. This happens throughout the movie and is used to highlight the differences between the two worlds mentioned above. 90


Repetition is also used to show the differences. For example, when Fran dances at the studio, she is mistreated and belittled. She is treated as an outsider. In mise-en-scenes we always see Fran near the camera, and the other people facing her on the other side of the camera view. Luhrmann subtly turns the tables when Scott first meets Fran\'s parents. For example, when Scott is standing in front of the shabby store, we see Scott near the camera and on the other side we see all the Spaniards from the fiesta. They are all standing together but Scott is alone. This shows us that in the world of Flamenco Scott is still an "outsider". 112


Another clear difference is the difference in wealth. This ties in closely with yet another difference: the surrounding. The Spaniards live poorly: they live near the train railway and in a slummy area. The professional ballroom dancers are not very rich, but they definitely do not live in slums. They also try and make their surroundings look better than they are, using colourful wallpapers and bright bedsheets etc. The earthy tones at the spanish quarter give it a more friendly atmosphere, i.e. representing the intimate, passionate world of Flamenco dancing. The bright, contrasting colours at Scott\'s house and at the studio highlight the superficiality and "razzle-dazzle" of the ballroom dancing world. Thus the surroundings also play a part in contrasting these two worlds. 122


Another major aspect is the families themselves. Scott\'s mother and Les Kendall [he is almost like family too] are always warning Scott not to step out of line, are always reminding him of how important competition is, and are always trying to make his decisions for him. In Fran\'s family however the values are that of trust, love and caring. We can see that Fran\'s family is more "real". They are more concerned with making sure she has shelter, love and care than seeing her attain fame. So, as you can see, just like the world of ballroom dancing is strict, rigid, competitive and superficial, so is Scott\'s family. Just like the world of Flamenco dancing is warm, passionate and intimate, so is Fran\'s family. Luhrmann obviously made the families out like this to help juxta-oppose these worlds. 129


In conclusion it can be said that all aspects of the film compares the two worlds. This is because this theme of freeing oneself from conservatism is very important to the movie. When we see the train zoom past Fran\'s house [the train that symbolizes the many journeys in the movie] it mainly represents Scott\'s entrance into the intimate Flamenco world. 62


[515 words]