Symbolism and characterization are used as key tools in Baz Luhrmann’s films, The Great Gatsby and Strictly Ballroom, to enhance the films’ intention, plot line and character development. Luhrmann’s evolution as a director is clearly illustrated through the increasingly advanced integration and execution of filmic elements when comparing these two films.In Strictly Ballroom Luhrmann uses costume and props to symbolise Fran’s character and her role in the plot. Fran approaches Scott in the dance studio dressed in her typical drab clothes that noticeably contrast with the bright, elaborate costumes of the other girls in the studio. The clothes introduce her as unattractive and reflect the way she is seen by everyone else – as undesirable because of her unwillingness to live the same superficial lifestyle they do. As Frans’ character evolves and she becomes more confident, her clothes begin to change. Her wardrobe becomes more colorful and she stops hiding her face behind the large glasses she usually wears. This is Luhrmann’s way of symbolising her character’s growth as Fran begins to develop a new sense of courage and confidence through dancing with Scott. While his use of costume emphasises the plot’s progression, as well as the evolution of Fran’s character, it is done in a relatively obvious way as Fran undergoes a typical Cinderella transformation that highlights the almost predictable nature of the plot.Similar to Strictly Ballroom, in The Great Gatsby, Luhrmann uses props as symbols. The string of pearls Tom gave Daisy is used to represent his wealth, status and the influence he has over Daisy. However, the integration of these symbols in The Great Gatsby is done more skillfully than in Strictly Ballroom and consequently has a greater effect. Daisy’s attraction to Tom stems from the security his wealth provides, and the pearls symbolise the type of lifestyle Tom can provide for Daisy. When Daisy receives a letter from Gatsby and rips the pearls from her neck it signifies that this lifestyle is threatened by her love for Gatsby. However, when the pearls are rethreaded and she is seen wearing them on the day she marries Tom, they play a significant role in characterising Daisy. Daisy’s acceptance of the pearls reveals her to be inconsistent and materialistic. They act as a symbol of Daisy’s choice to fall back into the security and lifestyle Tom provides rather than succumbing to her possibly stronger feelings for Gatsby. In The Great Gatsby, Luhrmann uses the green light as a strong symbol. The green light not only represents Daisy, but everything Gatsby has ever wished to attain – a perfect life that he could have, if only he could reach it. The green light also serves to characterise Gatsby as the idealistic, hopeful man Nick describes. It represents his relentless desire for self-improvement and will to actualize his hopes of being with Daisy. The focus placed on Gatsby reaching out towards the light on Daisy’s dock symbolizes his longing for Daisy and the infinite hope that encapsulates Gatsby. Luhrmann uses the light as a tool to highlight the fatal, yet beautiful nature of Gatsby and his obsession of reuniting with Daisy. By using this more subtle, thought-out symbol, Luhrmann makes it clear that his use of characterization and symbolism extends past just wardrobe and costume.The comparison of these two films clearly demonstrates the advancement in Luhrmann’s style and use of cinematic elements. His use of the green light to symbolise Daisy as well as highlight the disposition of Gatsby’s character reinforces the evolved nature of Luhrmann’s direction and contrasts with the simple use of wardrobe to create symbolism and characterization in Strictly Ballroom. His use of the pearls in The Great Gatsby underlines the subtle, yet more effective implementation of these techniques and demonstrates that Luhrmann has been able to move past the basic use of symbolism, delving deeper into a more thoughtful, impactful placement of symbols in his films.