Belonging or not belonging is the feeling of being included or excluded by a certain group, person, place or community. This is conveyed very well in the film “Strictly Ballroom” produced by Baz Luhrmen and “The Ugly Duckling’, a short story by Hans Christian Anderson. Both represent the concept of acceptance and rejection through the use of many film and language techniques.
In strictly ballroom Scott Hastings rebels against the dance community to find where he truly belongs. From this we understand that some people may have to sacrifice their own true identity to belong to a certain group. In The Ugly Duckling it refers to one being excluded from a group for being “different” then to finally accepting and embracing its identity.
In Strictly Ballroom the beginning scenes of the film, Luhrmen recognized the elegant atmosphere of the ballroom dancing world by use of a combination of techniques such as graceful music, the silhouette and highly illuminated shots of the dancers waltzing, dressing in exaggerated and flamboyant costumes, over the top hair and make-up along with big cheesy smiles and facial expressions as they dance gracefully around the floor. The Ballroom Dancing Community follow a strict set of rules and regulations which revolve around their key priority of winning.
These rules and regulations strictly forbid creating their own dance steps as they are to follow the choreography that is already set for them. However, soon enough Scott breaks these rules as in one of the scenes Scott is competing with partner Liz which they then become blocked in by another dance couple this causes Scott to dance his own steps to escape which makes conflict between him and the judges as he has not followed the Ballroom Dancing Community rules which are to use the usual steps that the judges are programmed to.
The reaction of the judges and audience shows that Scott’s actions were not accepted by the federation. Barry fife leans over to Lez and mutters “what the hell is going on here? ” representing the shock and disbelief of the judges. The image of the artificial world, shown as the ballroom world, is extravagant and glamorous. Luhrmann has conveyed this world as having power, whereas the character of Fran, shown in basic daggy clothes and reading glasses, is shown as powerless, because she does not belong to the ballroom world. Fran and her family are Spanish immigrants, and Luhrmann portrays them as coming from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’, literally by showing a train pass by their house. They are mostly shown to be in the dark contrasted from the glitz and glamour of the ballroom community. However, as Scott spends time with them practicing dancing and being taught by Frans family Rico and Yaya, they are revealed to be passionate dancers and Scott is accepted into their world, whereas Fran is yet to be accepted. Not belonging and exclusion is portrayed in the short story by Hans Christian Anderson “The Ugly Duckling”.
The Ugly Duckling was born looking very different and unusual as it was born big and strong, grey and fairly ugly unlike the other little ducklings which seem to be fairly “normal”, soft fluffy and yellow. The mother duck tells all of her ducklings to follow her to the farm yard which the ugly duckling is found to be extremely unhappy there as it is very noisy, the hens peck at him, the rooster flies at him, the ducks bite him and the farmer kicks him. This shows the ugly duckling to be not accepted and excluded from the place.
The ugly duckling then decides to run away only to bump into a group of beautiful elegant swans. Their feathers are so white, their necks so long, their wings so pretty. Seeing how beautiful these swans were made the ugly duckling want to be beautiful like them. But one day the ugly duckling sees his reflection in the water and notices that he is no longer an ugly duckling but has grown into a beautiful elegant swan. In order to feel a true sense of belonging, we must accept and embrace all aspects of our identity.
In Scott’s position he learns to accept that he is the same but different from the ballroom dancing community. He is the same because of him being a ballroom dancer, but different as he enjoys expressing his own choreography and not having to follow a set of steps which have no form of uniqueness involved. The ugly duckling was not accepted in into his family nor from the place he lived in. All it took was for the ugly duckling to embrace all aspects of his identity, which was, it turning into something so beautiful from something everyone believed was unattractive and unusual, not accepted.