It’s just over a week away until Baz Luhrmann’s fifth feature film The Great Gatsby hits theaters. Today, his first feature, Strictly Ballroom is released on Blu-ray.
This wildly off-beat comedy is about a male dancer who refuses to follow the accepted rules of ballroom dancing and creates his own style of choreography, which infuriates the ballroom dancing establishment. Before he’s scheduled to compete in the Pan-Pacific ballroom championships, he’s forced to take up a new partner, a beginner who initially seems without promise. With his help, she turns into an assured and wonderful dancer.
In recent years, the popularity in dance shows in media has greatly increased – see Dancing With the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance and even this year’s Oscar winner, Silver Linings Playbook. Ahead of his time but also a throwback to old Hollywood dance film directors, Luhrmann wanted to make a dance romance that would stand the test of time. He talked to the New York Post, about his first film and how it holds up today.
I’ve tried to make Strictly Ballroom impossible to date. It does feel a bit 80’s but I consciously made sure there was no technology in the movie that could date it. But I love that we’ve been able to maintain that question of, “is it the most fashionable movie in the world or is the least?: I’d love to keep that going throughout its entire lifetime. To me it’s oscillating between the two points.
We workshopped it a lot before [making the movie] so it’s structurally very tight. It looks so simple, but if you break it down, there’s the ability to read it on two levels: a fun, Hollywood-style romp or the fundamental expression of the ugly duckling outsider unifying with the hero who’s been rejected because he’s challenged those that govern the rules. Of course they find it’s not about winning, it’s about self-revelation. It’s not about living life in the right way, it’s about actually living a life. A life lived in fear is a life half lived.
Before you watch the stylistic Gatsby in theaters, go back and watch Ballroom to see where his cinematic storytelling began and how it has evolved.
Get your copy of Strictly Ballroom on Blu-ray today!