I first heard of Baz Luhrmann from his 1998 CD Something For Everybody. There was 1 song on there that I’d heard somewhere and desperately wanted. It’s the “Wear Sunscreen” one, the words of which were once attributed to Kurt Vonnegut before being more correctly connected to Mary Schmich. Wise words.
I didn’t even know he did movies. Then one day my little sister introduced me to Moulin Rouge! At that time I assumed Baz was French or German or English. Who would have thought that an Australian would make a movie about Paris folks?
So I finally got around to seeing Strictly Ballroom, Baz’ first movie from 1992. It actually takes place in Australia. I never realized that Australians could be as goofy as the English. It’s funny the prejudices that you find nonchalantly hanging around your neck.
It reminds me of the US remake of Shall We Dance? starring Richard Gere that came out in 2005. I think it has something to do with making fun of the more outlandish costumes, but I’m not quite sure. Interestingly, the original Japanese Shall We Dance? didn’t come out till 1997, so perhaps it was influenced by Baz. I really don’t see any connection to Fred and Ginger’s Gershwinriffic Shall We Dance of 1937.
Before becoming a movie, it was a stage production. I am guessing that the whole thing really came together during the course of its run, but I have no knowledge of that. But it does give a lot of people a lot of time to find and fit together all sorts of rich touches.
Which reminds me of Hedwig and the Angry Inch of 2000. Although it was about an East German, not an Australian, and there was more singing than dancing. But there was a similar lushness and quirkiness that cannot be attributed alone to they both starting out as stage productions.
So, anyway, about Strictly Ballroom…. It’s a lot of fun. It’s pretty. There’s music and dancing, and some farce. It’s got some quirkiness and creativity in there! You already know the story, so don’t worry about that. It’s the journey that counts.
The copy I saw also had a documentary of Australia’s circa 1987 national ballroom competitions. This was nice to balance out the more outrageous parts of Strictly Ballroom with the very intense real people who hoof for fun and sometimes profit.
Enjoy! You know you will.