One look at the blue sequinned tuxedo worn by Bill Hunter as Barry Fife in Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom (1992), and I’m a teenager back in middle-America, renting this DVD from our local video store many years after the initial cinematic run.
The nostalgic feelings I have for this film – probably the first Australian film I’d seen (outside the Crocodile Dundee series) – is something I’ve only recently come to appreciate. I instantly loved this movie: the costumes, the absurd characters, the rooftop dance sequence to ‘Time After Time’ … I had no idea at the time that I’d just seen the first of many films from Baz Luhrmann that would define different points on my journey into adulthood: I saw Romeo + Juliet three times at the theatre, watched the DVD too many times to count, and had the soundtrack on repeat in my CD player. Moulin Rouge! was a staple of late-night college dorm viewing and pizza-fuelled cringeworthy sing-alongs with my floormates. It wasn’t until I was helping dress the mannequin in Barry’s blue tuxedo jacket that I realised that Strictly Ballroom is where my love of Australian films began. And all these years after that first viewing, I find myself working at ACMI, installing costumes and props from these films that have had such an impact on my life.
– Holly Robbins, Assistant Registrar