|Directed by||Baz Luhrmann|
|Produced by||Tristram Miall
|Written by||Baz Luhrmann
|Music by||David Hirschfelder|
|Editing by||Jill Bilcock|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Release date(s)||August 20, 1992 (AUS)
February 12, 1993 (US)
|Running time||94 minutes|
|Gross revenue||$22 million (Australian release)|
|Followed by||Romeo + Juliet|
Strictly Ballroom is a 1992 Australian romantic comedy film directed by Baz Luhrmann and produced by M&A Productions. The film has been shown in at least 86 countries and furthermore has been placed as the film option on the British, South-African and Irish school leaving examinations for English.
The film was based on a 1986 stage play written by Luhrmann and Andrew Bovell. Film producer Ted Albert had seen the stage play performed at the Wharf Theatre. He and his business partner Tristam Miall believed the play could be successfully translated into a musical. Subsequently, Tristram Miall approached Baz Luhrmann to buy the film rights. They commissioned Baz Luhrmann to write and direct the film adaption and Albert spent three years raising film capital.
Strictly Ballroom tells the story of Australian ballroom dancer, Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio). Scott comes from a family with a history of ballroom dancing and has been training since childhood. Scott's mother Shirley teaches ballroom dancing, and his father Doug meekly handles maintenance chores at the dance studio. Scott has become very proficient, but encounters considerable resistance when he tries to dance his own steps in preference to the traditional ballroom moves. Scott's steps are not strictly ballroom. His dancing partner Liz (Gia Carides) leaves him, and try-outs start to find a new dance partner. Meanwhile Scott is secretly rehearsing with plain and ordinary Fran (Tara Morice), who has been dancing for only two years and whose only partner has been a female friend. Fran shyly approaches Scott one evening after class and says she wants to dance with him at the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix. Scott is dubious, but Fran convinces him to give her a one-hour trial and eventually he agrees. When Fran begins incorporating Pasodoble steps into their routine, Scott realises her potential. He walks Fran home one night and finds her Spanish family living in a tiny home near the railway tracks. As their rehearsals progress, Scott finds Fran more attractive and self-confident.
At a dance competition the Hastings family attends, they find out that Tina Sparkle (Sonia Kruger), an acclaimed Pan-Pacific Grand Prix dancer, is looking for a new dancing partner. Fran arrives just as Scott's mother Shirley is talking excitedly about the opportunity for Scott. Fran thinks she's talking about Fran's partnership with Scott, and agrees enthusiastically until she realizes Shirley is talking about Tina. Upset, Fran runs off as Scott appears. Scott snubs Tina and runs after Fran. He explains the situation and they start dancing backstage. Tina, Liz and the Hastings family chase Scott, and are shocked to find him dancing with Fran. Liz insults Fran, causing her to stumble and apparently prove their point that a beginner cannot dance with a professional. Humiliated, Fran leaves in tears.
Scott follows her home and tries to apologize. When Fran's protective father finds them talking, he angrily confronts Scott. However, when he learns that Scott and Fran are dance partners, he challenges Scott to demonstrate the Paso Doble. Scott's first showy attempt draws laughter from the family, but Fran's grandmother helps Scott understand how to feel the rhythm within himself and Fran's father teaches Scott and Fran authentic Paso Doble steps. (It becomes clear at this point that Fran lost her mother many years ago.)
Scott begins spending all his time rehearsing with Fran at her house, until Barry Fife (Bill Hunter), Australian Dancing Federation chairman, tells Scott he must know "the truth" about his parents Doug and Shirley—they too were ballroom dancing champions until they lost the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix. Fife said this was because Doug had become self-obsessed and danced his own steps. Barry convinces Scott to dance with Liz instead of Fran so he can win "for his father's sake". However, this is later revealed as a lie, part of Barry's plot to fix the competition so Scott and Liz will lose. Scott starts training with Liz, while an unhappy Fran goes back to the beginner's class.
At the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix, Doug Hastings finally manages to pull Scott aside and tells the real story—Doug never danced at the competition, because Barry convinced Shirley the only way to win was to dance the conventional steps with their friend Les. Shirley and Les lose the contest anyway. After hearing his father's revelation, Scott finds Fran and asks her to dance with him. Scott and Fran return to the floor and "dance from the heart," drawing cheers from the crowd. A furious Barry Fife interrupts the performance and disqualifies them, but they dance anyway; finally, the music resumes and the couple's spirited dancing brings down the house. In the end, it is not revealed whether Scott and Fran win or lose, as in the story, that is not an important factor. As the performance ends, Doug asks Shirley to dance. The entire audience steps onto the dance floor and all begin dancing as Fran and Scott kiss.
Choreography by John O'Connell
The film plays with clichés and stereotypes, mocking and embracing them at the same time. Luhrmann has also commented that the film revolves around stories similar to David and Goliath, Cinderella and The Ugly Duckling.
The film was an adaptation of an original short play of the same name created by Luhrmann and first staged in 1986. At the end of 1988, Luhrmann was approached by producer Tristram Miall to transform his play into a movie.
Luhrmann told Playbill that he would revive the play onstage sometime in 2005, but this never happened.
Strictly Ballroom was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, winning the "Award of the Youth" prize in the foreign film category. It was sought after by distributors from across the world. Immediately after its showing at Cannes, it was sold to 86 countries for more than $10 million. It has been placed as the film option on the British, South-African and Irish school leaving examinations for English, alongside such classics as On the Waterfront and Ten Little Indians.
Among the songs featured on the soundtrack are:
Strictly Ballroom is a 1992 Australian romantic comedy film about Scott Hastings, a championship ballroom dancer who wants to dance non-Federation steps and his unlikely dance partner, Fran, a seemingly plain and ordinary dancing student. It is adapted from the short 1986 play of the same name.