Strictly Ballroom

Image“Strictly Ballroom” tells the story of an Australian Ballroom dancer; Scott Hastings, and his struggle to establish his personal style of dance in his way in order to win the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Dance Championship. Throughout the movie we have seen the struggles that Scott faces involving family, love and his passion for dance.

ImageStatus versus Power

The classic example of a Cinderella story is strongly being portrayed in this movie by Fran. At the beginning of the movie, she is being perceived as a beginner dancer, unattractive, clumsy and unnoticeable by others. However, as the movie continues, we can see her transformation not only physically but as well as her dance skills.

The influence of the Dance Championship is done through coercive power which suppresses freewill. Initially Scott was reluctant to dance with Fran because he was influenced by his upbringing of the competitive dance world whereby beginners are no match to amateur dancers, however, through time spent and first hand encounter with Fran’s culture, he learnt that there true meaning of dance.

It is obviously shown in the film that there is a strong dispute by Scott’s parents of Fran dancing with Scott as she is a beginner while he is an Amateur. The parents soon learnt that Fran brings out the best of Scott, complimenting each other while they dance as Fran is submissive and Scott is dominant.


Success versus passion

Dance revolves around the freedom to express. This becomes obvious when Scott is being laughed at by Fran’s family when he is performing his own understanding and perception of a Paso Doble, which is restricted and fixed in steps. Scott later found out that there is more to just doing steps fixed by the association and there are more dance.  At the end of the movie, it is clearly shown that Scott struggles between having to win the Pan Pacific Grand Prix for his family or his passion and love for not just the dance but also towards Fran. In my opinion, the reason why the directors choose the dance Paso Doble to portray strongly in this movie is its origins of being a strong dance. Paso Doble is the dance of the matador with its cape fighting to challenge the bull; it shows a strong connection between both the matador (male) with its cape (female) performing flawlessly to defect the bull (parents/rules). Hence, in comparison to other dances such as the Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba, etc, the Paso Doble illustrates more personality and indirectly shows the battle between his family’s success versus his.

 In summary, this movie has really captured my attention in many ways. The battle between Scott’s family interest versus his has shown that there is more to just living under a rules and control. Scott’s decision to fulfill his own dreams has many people realize that they should not live for other people, but themselves. “Strictly Ballroom” as a movie title is truly an oxy moron, it explains the whole movie as being Strictly-Control, Ballroom – Dance. Dance is suppose to be free and expressive so why should it be restricted? 

 “Dance to express, not to impress” 


Cry Freedom


The movie “Cry Freedom” focuses on the friendship between a white liberal South African editor, Donald Woods and an idealistic young black leader, Steve Biko, who later dies due to hunger strike at the hands of the South African police.

Woods, initially labeled Biko as a “black racist”, changes his views after a personal approach with Biko. Even though he has family commitments, Woods took the challenge to fight against apartheid together with his trusted friend, Gusto and goes through great lenth to promote Biko’s view of equality among the Black and White populations of South Africa.


Relationship – Biko & Woods

The relationship between Biko and Woods started through an emissary, whom arranged the meeting between the both of them. Due to the fact that Biko was banned, he is only able to meet one person at a time in the same room. Aside from most Whites in South Africa, Woods is one of those who approach this racial issue with openness and acceptance. Although Woods may have a hidden agenda for the meeting at first (story to write for his newspaper to gain more readers), but through his experience in the African “township”, his perspective has changed.

Biko and Woods shares a true friendship, even though they are not allowed to be seen in public. Both of them seem to have managed keeping in contact, either via telephone or through emissaries, their friendship is a learning curve for both parties, creating understanding and trust.

The incident that triggered the Woods’ change of heart is the gradual experience that he is exposed to, seeing the lives of the blacks living in the townships first hand, something which the few whites Africans have done.

Although in the movie, Biko played with quiet power, he is seen primarily through the eyes of Woods, admired and respected by many.


Relationship – Family

Both Biko and Woods are fortunate to have such supportive families. Although there may be some ups and downs in Woods family, facing the contemplation of the family’s safely or the lives of the many black Africans, Woods manages his family with love, respect and understanding. The fact that the movie focuses on Woods family moving from their home to another state, I was surprised that the kids were understanding and clever to speak only when needed.

The scene where Mrs Woods registered hers and her children’s name at the immigration triggered my emotions, wondering if the children are going to speak aloud that their name or birth date weren’t their real ones, which might cause the plan if the officers find out. Thank god it was in the 80s whereby the security were not as tight as currently, the family was easily released without having much trouble.

Aside from Biko’s wife and son, Biko has many trusted friends that he has rather much consider them as family. He is fortunate to have many people that truly respect him, that will sacrifice their life for his protection. Biko’s stand against apartheid has truly created a strong unity between all the blacks.


Generally, watching injustices such as the apartheid that occurred in South Africa, gets conscious about the world around me. The focus of the movie was leading towards Woods instead of the Biko. When Biko dies, the rest of the story centers on Woods, I was hoping to be able to understand Biko’s life and plan better. However, overall the movie has successful captured many of my emotions, such as afraid, sympathy, worry, happy and others. The movie ended into a cliff-hanger when Woods flew out to the mountains to share Biko’s story to the World and some of these questions continues to stir in my heart, 1) How does the Whites dominate South Africa when 70% of the Africans are Blacks? 2) At the end of the movie, it shows that Woods’ maid, Evelyn knew that the family was leaving, therefore she was reluctant to take a look at Mrs Woods when she said goodbye. But why did the maid told the dog that something was wrong when she checked the cupboard at the end? Was it for the recording of the polices or she was really confused?

Running on Empty


“Running on Empty” is an extraordinary film that captured the hearts of many audiences by portraying the warm evocation of family life and first love. Arthur and Annie Pope, a pair of 60s radicals who manages to escape from the FBI 16 years after a bomb attack in  the napalm lab as a sign of the Vietnam War protest which almost killed an innocent man. Both are a 17 year old Danny and 10 year old Harry; together they live a lifestyle which has no certainty and security as they constantly move around and establishing new identities. This has led to an abnormal development for both Danny and Harry, who can never have friends nor an academic record. Loyalties are finally tested when Danny meets a dedicated teacher from his new school and as well as falling in love with the teacher’s daughter, Lorna.  Although they may live in a life having to deal with many decisions and consequences of life, there are still many perspectives from the movie that we can learn and understand from.

Pope Family vs Philips Family

Despite the fact of the constant change and readjustment that the Popes have to face, I strongly salute Arthur and Annie for doing such a great job is bringing up their kids. The fact that both Arthur and Annie has different personalities, creates a balance in the family. Arthur is an authoritative, short tempered, but sometimes funny father figure; on the other hand, Annie is a gentle, understanding, and loving mother in the family. Together, they are able to strike a balance in the family, educating both Danny and Harry to look at things in the bright side and being there for them. When Arthur faces stressful times and takes out on the family, Annie is always the one that creates calmness in the family, finding solutions to make life easier for the whole family. Danny and Harry is all Arthur and Annie has, they struggle with empty nest syndrome as Danny falls in love with Lorna and decide to stay for this college education as well. The statement mentioned by Annie to Arthur, “What are we doing to these kids? They’ve been running their whole lives like criminals, and they didn’t do anything!” made both of them realize that its time to let go of Danny so that he can live his life for himself and not live under the consequences of his parents.

On the other hand, the Philips family portrays the total opposite from the Pope’s family. They seem perfect on the outside; perfect house, stable income and etc, but they do not the same warmth as the Pope’s family did. Despite the fact that Lorna has everything she wanted, she does not share the any intimate relationship with her family. She perceives her parents as being fake, judgmental and only wants to see and hear what they want to. This has led to Lorna finding love from another person that shares that father figure; Danny.


First love

As Danny begins to experience first love with Lorna in his new school, he struggles to choose between his parents and Lorna. Danny and Lorna broke the barrier when Danny begins sharing his secrets with Lorna, which produce the start of an intimate relationship between he two love birds. Danny soon understands that his family has no one else but only each other, he chooses to sacrifice himself to support and keep his family together.


Danny and Harry share a close siblings bond with each other. The fact that both of them can never amass a group of friends, or rather can never stick around long enough to develop a relationship with their friends, both of them are all they have. Although they may have small disagreements, such as when Danny is able to keep his piano sets when Harry was not able to keep his dog when they moved out from their home, but they always try to resolve it and look at things positively. The age difference may also contribute to the relationship bond that they share. 7 years difference indicates that Danny and Harry share nothing in common from their generation, but the fact that Danny adapts the responsibility as an elder brother to take care of his younger sibling.

Parents of Arthur and Annie

As seen in the movie, Arthur only finds out that his mum passed away due to cancer that he was not aware of. The fact that Arthur’s mum kept if a secret from him shows great love, as she wants to kept her child safe from the FBIs, knowing that he might come looking for her.

The other hear broken moment in the film is where Annie’s dad broke down when he realizes that he will never be able to see his child again after finally meeting her at a restaurant after 14 years! Annie chose to live with her own consequences, not wanting to involve her parents, jeopardizing their reputation and safety, but soon realizes that she needs their help to support Danny in his college education and finally decides to meet with her father to ask for help.

Both families have to live with the consequences of their children (Arthur and Annie), no contact at all and never given the opportunity to meet with their grandchildren. The families has a decision to turn their own children into the FBIs for  chance to at least meet them in jail, but they have shown great love towards them by not turning them in, believing that they are innocent and trusting that they will be able to see them one day.


Future & Decisions

Danny took a big risk when he decided to attend the audition by Juliard without his parents’ concern. With the influence of his music teacher, Mr. Philips, he realizes that he is talented and has a bright future ahead of him. When Annie found out about the audition, she struggles with Arthur knowing that if they allows Danny to go, they may never be able to see him again,  but if she allows him to stay, she is being selfish and just like her, throwing Danny’s future away. Annie, being an understanding mum, knowing that it is her own consequence to deal with and not Danny’s, decides to arrange for a better home and life for Danny with her parents. Arthur on the other hand, was reluctant at first, but realizes that he too has no right to limit his son’s freedom and late decides to let Danny go.

In my opinion, this film did great by capturing the attention of both the adults and teens by showing a realistic example of how family functions without much help. At the end of the movie, I believe taht the family did the right thing letting Danny go, but the fact that Harry still remains with them makes me wonder if they are doing the right thing. Can this affect Harry’s development without the support of his older brother? Can Annie and Arthur really continue supporting Harry? Should Harry follow Danny and stay with their grandparents?