Description Of Baz Luhrmann's Works
Born in Sydney and raised in the tiny village of Heron’s Creek, in New South Whales Australia (IMDb, no date; TheFamousPeople.com, 2018; Wikipedia, 2019b). Mark Anthony Luhrmann known as Baz Luhrmann today, is best known for “The Red Curtain Trilogy”, comprised of the romantic comedy Strictly Ballroom, a modernisation of Shakespearean classic Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge!, a ludicrous musical set in late 19th century Paris (Wilson, 2016). He also created after the closing of his Red Curtain Trilogy, the movie Australia in 2008. In the processing of creating “The Red Curtain Trilogy”, he has created his own film style known as his “Red Curtain” style (Tashaxgs, 2015). In his last two films such as Australia, their style of film is quite different from “The Red Curtain Trilogy”(Gamboa, 2016).
Luhrmann uses quick-paced, energetic and highly choreographed, hyperbolic sequences, references of pop culture and amongst of other film techniques for which are well known for his each of his films respectively (Ruecker, 2013). This unique blend is not distracting, though overwhelming at times, as it adds to Luhrmann’s flavour of films, plus it entertains the audiences as well. This does not result in cinema of style over substance, rather it makes the audience engage in the film and the style helps develops it. Thus part of the film, the films, Moulin Rouge!, Romeo + Juliet and Australia are great examples of these characteristics.
Moulin Rouge! (Wikipedia, 2019c) is a 2001 musical romantic comedy directed by Baz Luhrmann. It is about a young English writer by the name of Christian in Paris of 1899, who in the film falls in love with Satine, the Moulin Rouge’s star dancer and cabaret actress (RottenTomatoes, 2002). Who in the end of the film dies from tuberculosis leaving Christian in depression. A year later after the Moulin Rouge closed down, one can see Christian finishing a book about their love with the words, “a love that will live forever”(Robledo, 2003).
The characteristics of the Moulin Rouge! that portray Baz Luhrmann’s style is the references of pop culture, imagery, fast-paced movement, editing of characters and scenes, show-like appearance to the audience and use of modern music. Baz’s use of modern music mashups like “Lady Marmalade”, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” and “Material Girl” help tell and develop the story. The mashups also surprises the audience with familiar tunes by integrating them in various scenes. The fast paced camera movement and colourful imagery in the film helps create an unhinged atmosphere in the Moulin Rouge!. This results in an overwhelming and blissful experience when watching the film.
Australia is a 2008 romantic historical film directed by Baz Luhrmann (Google, no date; RottenTomatoes, 2009; Wikipedia, 2019a). The film is set in Australia's Northern Territory before WWII. It is about a woman named Lady Sarah Ashley, an English aristocrat who travels to Down Under (Australia) to convince her husband to sell their hopeless cattle farm. When she arrives there, a tragedy strikes which leaves her a widow with the farm she doesn't know how to run. She meets a drifter named Drover, the only person Sarah can trust to help save her farm. They fall in love and take guardianship of Nullah, an orphaned mixed-race aboriginal boy, who they must protect from the authorities who seek to strip him of his culture and teach him to become a servant in white society. As WWII sparks in Australia, Japanese bombers carpet bomb Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory. In the aftermath of the attack, Lady Sarah, Drover, and Nullah return to the safety of remote Faraway Downs (Chen, 2009). There Nullah’s grandfather King George calls for Nullah, who returns to the Outback with him.
The characteristics of the film Australia that reflect Baz Luhrmann’s style of film is his use of slow-motion shots, imagery, a panning camera movements, character representation and CGI. Luhrmann creates a slightly surreal world by successfully taking advantage of painted landscapes and other effects that connect modern special effects with artificial scenery. His use of the slow-motion is top-notch, Luhrmann draws us into the emotions of a scene by lingering on a specific shot for much longer than usual, e.g. the scene in the film, Fletcher walking outside to see hundreds of Japanese bombers flying to Darwin.
Romeo + Juliet is a 1996 romantic crime film directed by Baz Luhrmann, it is the second instalment of the Red Curtain Trilogy (RottenTomatoes, 2000; Wikipedia, 2018). In a modernised city of Verona, a pair of star-crossed lovers who against the political and social hierarchy of their families, met through a neon fish tank at a masquerade party. Despite being from rival families, Romeo, the Montague and Juliet, the Capulet nevertheless fall in love. Both rival families clash during a deadly beachfront shoot-out in vengeance. The couple's final reunion ends in devastation for both families as both commit suicide. Which ends the feud between both families (Mattos, 1999).
The characteristics of the film that describe Luhrmann’s style of film include montage editing, fast moving cameras, low angle shots, CGI, close-ups, slow-motion, music and pathetic fallacy. This indeed helps tell and develop the story as the montage in the prologue sums up the film and low angle shots to underline the significance of Mercutio’s words, “a plague on both your houses”.
In conclusion indeed Baz Luhrmann is a divisive director as he opposes the usual film style and techniques used in many Hollywood and blockbuster films. Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet as part of the “Red Curtain Trilogy” use their style of being a show-like, music, fast-paced camera movements and character representation to deliver the plot of the films and capture audiences. While Australia yet quite similar uses its powerful slow-motion shots, imagery, low-angle and head shots to project the story of the film and too mesmerise the audience.