It is evident that Baz Lurhmann
has evolved as a director when reviewing his debut film, “Strictly Ballroom”
(1992) and his latest film, “The Great Gatsby”(2013). Lurhmann’s use of colour
and it’s relationship to social classes and characters – like Gatsby and Fran –
and their goals in each of the films reveal how he has evolved as a director.
In both “Strictly Ballroom” and
“The Great Gatsby” Lurhmann uses the colour white to reveal different traits
about each character. In the second scene of “Strictly Ballroom” Fran is
wearing a muted white t-shirt while she circles the dance floor of Les
Kendall’s dance studio. Unlike Fran, the rest of the characters are wearing
bright, colourfully flamboyant clothes. The use of this dull white t-shirt
represents her lack of wealth and pure, passionate approach to dancing as she
is not focused on making a presence, she is at the studio for her love of
dancing. The White used in this film supports the theme of social class
division. In contrast to the positive use of white used in “Strictly Ballroom”
Lurhmann uses white in “The Great Gatsby” to reveal Gatsby’s superficiality and
hollowness. In the film, Gatsby uses nick to achieve his American Dream of
being reunited with Daisy. When Gatsby awaits Daisy’s presence in Nick’s home,
Gatsby is dressed in a white tuxedo and surrounded by white flowers. Gatsby is
attempting to rekindle his love with Daisy through materialism which is why
white is a symbol of the superficial lives they live in “The Great Gatsby”.
White emphasizes the theme of materialism in “The Great Gatsby”.
In both films, Lurhmann uses dark
brown, black, charcoal and grey colours to symbolise the poorer, more deprived
communities in each film. In “Strictly Ballroom” Fran and Scott dance in front
of a bright blue and red rooftop billboard – which is found in the wealthier
neighbourhood. When the film reveals Fran’s house, the colours and lighting
become dark and sombre which reveals the lack of monetary wealth of Fran’s
family. In “The Great Gatsby” Gatsby drives Nick from the wealthy “East Egg” –
with luscious green grass and bright buildings – through “The Valley of Ashes”
so that Gatsby can introduce Nick to one of his business partners. As they
enter “The Valley of Ashes” the colour and lighting become dark and subdued.
They continue to drive past large heeps of black charcoal. Similarly, dark
colours are used in both “The Great Gatsby” and “Strictly Ballroom” to support
the theme of social class divisions.
Lurhmann also used the colour
green in “The Great Gatsby” to symbolise Gatsby’s love for Daisy. In the film,
their is a regular focus on the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock to
symbolise how Daisy is all that Gatsby focuses on. The green light is always
far away from Gatsby which symbolises how far away Gatsby is from recapturing
Daisy’s heart. The use of Green supports the theme of difficult love.
It is clear that Baz Lurhmann has
evolved as a director as he not only skillfully represented class divisions
through the use of colour but he was also able to use white in both films to
evoke different feelings. He continued to use a new technique in “The Great
Gatsby” by using green as a symbol of love which he hadn’t done in his debut
film. This use of different colours reveal how Baz Lurhmann truly has evolved
as a director.