"Spectacular, Spectacular": The Mythology of Theatre and Cinema within Baz Luhrmann's Red Curtain Trilogy

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Title: "Spectacular, Spectacular": The Mythology of Theatre and Cinema within Baz Luhrmann's Red Curtain Trilogy
Author: Everett, Mary Elizabeth
Advisors: Dr. Marsha Orgeron, Committee Chair
Dr. Devin Orgeron, Committee Member
Dr. Joseph Gomez, Committee Member
Abstract: "Spectacular, Spectacular" looks at Baz Luhrmann's Red Curtain Trilogy—Strictly Ballroom (1992), Romeo + Juliet (1996), and Moulin Rouge (2001)—in the context of the mythologies of the theatre and cinema that Luhrmann builds. Evoking themes, images, and concepts found within these two mediums, Luhrmann goes to great lengths to signify both the cinematic and the theatrical within these films through references to popular culture, and these references incrementally mesh the worlds of theatre and cinema throughout the trilogy. In Strictly Ballroom, Luhrmann explores the concepts of performance, spectacle, and realism while at the same time replicating a popular cinematic form of the time, the non-diegetic musical. Moving further away from the popular genre that Strictly Ballroom mirrored, Luhrmann next made Romeo + Juliet, a film that speaks to many of the same conventions of theatre and film while also adding features of diegetic song and self-referentiality to heighten this connection. Moulin Rouge, Luhrmann's final film, is an overt musical homage, complete with internal and external references to both theatre and film with an overwhelming sense of awareness of popular culture. Although many critics, including Luhrmann himself, have praised him for his innovative style, this thesis argues that Luhrmann's trilogy does not create a new film form. Rather, "Spectacular, Spectacular" will demonstrate that his self-proclaimed genre, Red Curtain Cinema, is a modernized echo of an earlier idea—using popular culture and referentiality to pay tribute to a fading genre—found in one of the most popular movie musicals of all time, Singin' in the Rain.
Date: 2005-12-07
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/2380

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