John O’Donohue once said: “To be human is to belong. Belonging is a circle that embraces everything; if we reject it, we damage our nature. Belonging is deep; only in a sense does it refer to our external attachment to people, places and things. It is the living and passionate presence of the soul. When we deny it, we grow cold and empty” The film Strictly Ballroom, which is directed by Baz Lurhmann, demonstrates many aspects of belonging and not belonging including alienation and rejection, which focuses on the two main characters Scott and Fran, and also the conflict of cultures, where two worlds come together and collide.
Scott is an expert dancer who has been dancing since he was six. He is very sexy, and this is illustrated through his clothing and his svelte actions. Although Scott comes across as a confident and even comfortable person, he actually feels alienated and rejected when he is told by Barry Fife “You can dance your own steps, but it doesn’t mean you’ll win. ” On the contrary, we have Fran. A beginner dancer, who dances with a girl and does not fit in. She is not pretty, wears fish bowl glasses and dresses like a dag. Put simply, Fran is a frump.
We see the alienation and rejection in the scene where Scott is dancing on his own, while Fran is secretly watching, and wanting to dance with Scott. There are many techniques used, including music, sound effects such as Scott stomping and sliding, and rapid fire editing which focuses the audience’s attention on Fran. The purpose of this is to emphasise that Fran doesn’t belong. The when Scott asks Fran “What are you doing here” he is implying that she doesn’t belong there, which the audience are already aware of.
Scott then says “A beginner has no right to approach and open amateur” which just further enforces the aspect of not belonging and rejection. Throughout the film, we see that culture differences place restriction on Fran and Scott. Scott is a white Anglo-Saxon man, that comes from a successful family, who should mix with similar girls… who can dance *(said jokingly, audience giggles)* like Liz Holt and Tina Sparkle, while Fran is Spanish and not in the same league as the beautiful Liz and Tina.
Her family is also poor, and this is shown through the setting of her home, being behind a railway line. The conflict of culture is firstly shown when Scott tries to meet with Fran, and it is very secretive, almost as if he is an intruder. Fran tells Scott to “Go away, or I’ll get in trouble” which clearly proves that Scott doesn’t belong in that world. The techniques in the scene, such as the dark setting, whispers and furtive looks help the audience understand the collision of the two cultures.
As I look up at you students, I see many different cultures. I’m guessing most of us here have probably felt that our culture has placed restrictions on us at some point. In the movie though, the pass-o-doable, brings the two cultures together. The cargo train is then used as a metaphor to suggest that Scott has unleashed an unstoppable power. He belongs. In the beginning of the film, Fran does not belong in the dancing world, and in a way, neither does Scott as he wants to dance his own steps.
As the movie progresses, Scott learns to “Dance from the heart” and Scott and Fran are accepted and feel a sense of belonging. “Building relations can create a sense of love and belonging which makes living in a chaotic world easier. ” We are now in a better position to appreciate the aspect of belonging and I hope that what you have learnt today will help you better understand the aspect, and how it is explored within the prescribed text.