"I don't really think of myself as a film director
or an opera director
or an actor
or any of those things,
I'm involved in telling stories."
Born on 17 September 1962, Bazmark Anthony Luhrmann grew up in northern New South Wales. As a child, he would put on shows, play music or act out small plays. He says that he has always been a natural story teller. As he grew up he started making short films and even set up a small radio station in his family's petrol station. His father also owned a cinema for a while, and Luhrmann whiled away his time watching That's Entertainment films, he loved musicals and enjoyed watching the scenes that never made it into the final movie, they seemed to him just as important as the finished product.
At 17 he attend the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney where he was chosen to assist on Peter Brook's play The Mahabarata. The following year he wrote and staged Strictly Ballroom (which he was later to turn into a sucessful film). He took Strictly Ballroom to the World Youth Theatre Festival in Czechoslovakia where he won the Best Production and Best Director awards. The same year, he directed Crocodile Creek for the New Moon Theatre company.
After graduating from NIDA, he formed an independant theatre group (the Six Year Old Company, becoming their Artistic Director) and revived Strictly Ballroom for a highly sucessful run at the Wharf Theatre, Sydney and a trip to the World Expo in Brisbane. With the Six Year Old Company Luhrmann also directed several operas, including La Boheme (complete with 1950s set) for the Austrailian Opera which won the Mo Award for the Best Operatic Performance of the Year in 1990 and was also aired on PBS.
Luhrmann filmed Strictly Ballroom in 1992. The film won him eight Australian Film Institute Awards, three BAFTAs, and the Cannes Film Festival's Prix de Jeunesse. And it established Luhrmann as a fresh, vibrant talent.
The opera, Lake Lost, written with Felix Meagher, earned him a Victorian Green Room Award for Best Director and Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream took him to the 1994 Edinburgh Festival where it won the Critic's Prize.
Luhrmann married production designer Catherine Martin in 1996 and in the same year directed William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet took Shakespeare's play, translating it to a modern day Miami-like town called Verona beach. Every word was Shakespeare's but the imagery was all Luhrmann's own.
Moulin Rouge (2001) in Luhrmann's own words is "high comedy, high tragedy, musical operatic, influenced by Hollywood with a postmodern take on music." The recent release on DVD has had the honour of being the first film DVD to be produced by a director. It has allowed Luhrmann to extend his audience partiticipation to its fullest, allowing the viewer to watch and edit the full dance sequences (which were cut to bring the run time of the film down) and to see the whole, five year, story from beginning to end.
Luhrmann also scored a surprise hit single in 1999 with Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen), released on his own label, Bazmark Music. Although the exact source of the words have been subject to long debate, it was Luhrmann who brought the advice to the masses.
He is currently directing "La Boheme" on Broadway (due to open in December 2002). He also is planning to bring Moulin Rouge to the stage within the next two years.
Although a formidable force within the theatrical world, Baz Luhrmann is perhaps most famous for his "Audience Participation Cinema"; His charateristic wish for the audience to be involved with the characters, to not be passive in their role in the experience, his use of colour, music and imagery to create an involving film which, like a good book, is impossible to put down and entices one to come back, time and time again. Each viewing brings a new slant on the story, a new perspective. This is Lurhmann's aim and one he achieves with seeming ease.
"...let's look back to a cinematic language where the audience participated in the form.
Where they were aware at all times that they were watching a movie,
and that they should be active in their experience and not passive.
Not being put into a sort of sleep state and made to believe through a set of constructs that they are watching a real-life story through a keyhole.
They are aware at all times that they are watching a movie.
That was the first step in this theatricalised cinematic form that we now call the Red Curtain."
Flims - Acting
Kids of the Cross (1983) (TV documentary-drama) (Australia)
The Dark Room (1982) (Australia)
The Highest Honor (1981) (Australia)
Winter Of Our Dreams (1981) (Australia)
Film - Directorial
Rent (2002) - Director
Moulin Rouge (2001) - Producer, Writer and Director
William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1996)- Producer, Writer and Director
Strictly Ballroom (1992) - Writer and Director
La Boheme (for Broadway) (2002) - Director
Lake Lost (1994) - Co-writer and Director
La Boheme (1990) - Director
Crocodile Creek (1981 ?) - Writer and Director
Strictly Ballroom (1981 ?) - Writer and Director
The Mahabarata (1980 ?) - Assistant Director (?)
Sources : http://www.geocities.com/bazluhrmannfan/
I would be very grateful if someone could either add or point me towards a site with a listing of all the stage plays and theatre that Luhrmann has been involved in. As you can see above, I trawled through a great many sites for the information for this node and yet, oddly, none of them contained a list of his theatrical work.