Great Scenes: “Ballet Scene” from Hana and Alice
Hana and Alice (花とアリス) is a comedic teenage romance film written, directed, and edited by Iwai Shunji (he also composed the music himself). The story revolves around two best friends: Alice, played by Aoi Yu, and Hana, played by Suzuki Anne. Hana falls in love with a boy, so naturally she stalks him. One day, he hits his head on a garage door while walking and reading at the same time and obviously Hana is there right behind him. She decides to pretend like he has amnesia and state that she is his girlfriend. Alice is soon dragged into the elaborate story as the boy’s ex-girlfriend, but she falls in love with him as well and the story goes from there. Hana and Alice is not only a comedy, it is very touching as well–particularly when examining the family life of Alice and her relationship with her father. The film is uniquely filmed in typical Iwai Shunji fashion, employing hand held camera work and intimate angles. I gave it 4.5/5 stars in my review, and it is definitely a recommended watch.
This scene moved me deeply. Video after the break.
From Alice’s use of paper cups and tape as ballet shoes to the viewers shocked and amazed looks, the scene struck a chord with me as it undoubtedly does with most viewers. The ballet is unexpected and impressive, demonstrating Alice’s incredible desire to prove herself. Despite the fact that this is an audition for some sort of acting job, she decides to use the skill that she has already mastered–ballet. The cinematography is intimate and brilliant, showing Alice and the room from every possible angle–from extreme close ups on certain parts of Alice’s body and the viewers faces to long crane shots of the entire room. The use of slow motion and repetition also adds to the beauty of the dance and the emotional impact that it has on the viewer. Incredible. By including it at the very end of his film, Iwai gives the viewer reason to feel emotionally touched by this simple act of ballet. The music is beautifully composed by Iwai himself. If a film can go from silly comedy to a scene like this and evoke emotions, it is a truly great film. Aoi Yu is truly one of Japanese cinema’s great actresses and Iwai Shunji is one of its great directors. Watch Hana and Alice and experience the film in its entirety to completely appreciate the scene.