Shall We Dance

Film as a part of media is relatively young in comparison to literature, theater, dance or painting, which have existed for hundreds of years. Even though the film came into existence more than a century ago, it has been already established as a dominant art form. However, film requires a complex technology to the greater extent than any other art. Filmmaking demands the sufficient collaboration between all participants. The paper will discuss the main techniques, which are used in the film and the influence they have on the story, atmosphere, themes and characterization of the movie. Even though the thematic of the film is determined by a plot, the skillful arrangement of the shots, lightning, editing and sound are ones of the key importance factors, which create the unique atmosphere of the film.


Shohei Sugiyama is a Japanese businessperson whose life story is the one everybody will empathize. Even though he is successfully married and raises a teenage daughter, his life becomes empty because of his being financially trapped in a career in which he has no interest. The main protagonist represents the ultimate nine-to-five employee. When his wife sees his rising depression, she accounts that he needs to walk and entertain himself more often. Once, while riding from work, he notices a beautiful woman named Mai – Tamiyo Kusakari – staring at him out of a ball dance school’s window. Every day on his way to work, he sees the mysterious woman. One day, he summons the courage to enroll on dance lessons. The director intended to show Shohei Sugiyama as a man who seeks romantic escapism in the look of the young and beautiful Mai. Right after the improvements reached with the help of Mai, Shohei overcomes the awkwardness on the dance floor and, in the end, finds himself loving dancing. While Sugiyama does his best in dancing, his wife becomes suspicious and, after smelling the scent of perfumes on his shirt, she hires the private detective to reveal what is happening with her husband. The whole film is deeply moving. The western viewers are able to gaze through a window to Japanese culture and society, especially to aspects that concern the matters of intimacy.


Scene and Shots

The scene that is discussed is one of the key importance in the film. It is the one when Sugiyama for the first time comes to the school and tries dancing with Mai. The timidity of both characters is absolutely touching and this picture remains in viewers’ minds until the end of the film.

This powerful scene, however, depends on director’s decisions how to influence the audience. The screenplay provides a dialog between Mai and Shohei. The scene shows and suggests the audience to understand and feel what the main heroes, especially Shohei, feel. The scene increases our comprehension of the personality of Shohei. He is seen as a child who is standing one step closer to his life-dream. In addition, when the audience sees the gentle attitude to Mai, it gives a credit to Shohei and prompts worries about him during the entire film story.

Every action that happens in a film is affected by a context. To receive the full effect of the scene, it is not enough to select the scene from the story and discuss it. It is necessary to watch the whole movie. Hence, man can understand the overall organization of the film, which is called “the form”. In this manner, the viewer can discover that the film is not just the cluster of moments but the pattern. The film Shall We Dance is organized as a life story, and the scene in a ballroom contributes to the progression of the story.

The development of the film depends on the scene when Shohei comes to a ballroom. The scene suggests the spectators a new conflict between Sugiyama and his feelings to his previous life – his job and his wife – and his dream that is about to be accomplished. In this scene, we are told that to learn the art of dancing Sugiyama should remain confident from the moment he starts.

Settings and Editing

Since the early years of cinematograph, audients and directors understood that setting in cinema plays possesses more essential role than it does in theater. Andre Bazin said, “The human being is all-important in the theatre. The drama on the screen can exist without actors. A banging door, a leaf in the wind, waves beating on the shore can heighten the dramatic effect”.

The directors control settings in various ways. First, they can choose an already existing location where to shoot the scene. However, this method dates back to the early times. The second alternative method is constructing the studio and settings. The directors claim that shooting in the studio increases the control over the screenplay, and that is why many filmmakers follow the idea to conduct the settings by themselves. Nevertheless, it is a significant decision for the director to choose the settings because the overall design of it shapes the understanding of the whole story.

The director of the film Shall We Dance shot the discussed scene in the replica of the ballroom. The warm pastel colors of the walls and the floor provide the feeling of coziness and comfort to the audience. The only spot that strikes the viewer’s attention is the white T-shirt of a Sugiyama. The white color symbolizes the start of his new life. The pastel ballroom is depicted as the contrast to the final scene.

In manipulating the setting, the directors often apply “props”. This term means an object that acts during the ongoing action. This may be adopted for humorous purpose. In the scene in the ballroom, these “props” are two people, brightly dressed and comically dancing on the background.

The settings constitute a key element in comprehension the film. They stimulate to advance deeper in the meaning and understand the director’s prompts and intentions. The director of the film Masayuki SUO managed to create the unique setting and hooked the viewer’s attention by contrasting the scenes.

Furthermore, editing is the crucial stage of filmmaking because it allows seeing a shot as an uninterrupted segment of a screenplay. However, it can be achieved using several methods. In the discussed scene, the shots are disappearing, literally gradually changing into darkness and then the next shot fades in. The skillful editing provides better perception of the scene by the viewers.

Sound and Lighting

The sound is often utilized in a film to create atmosphere and mood. However, the discussed scene does not contain the additional music accompaniment and the required atmosphere is achieved by the absence of music on the background. Adopting such a technique, the directors hook audience’s attention and highlight the most fundamental changes in the story direction, and the whole scene is seen like a freeze frame.

The skillful technic of arranging the lightning is essential for filmmaking as well. Moreover, it is the most time-consuming stage of preparation and shooting. The lights in the scene are arranged in such a way that film is considered as a real story of life. The usage of soft lights (has been also known as a fill light) from the front of the object and more stable and directional from the back fulfills the opportunity to observe the objects with hot edges.

The filmmaking as an art piece became popular not long ago. The movie is a prominent mean to convey ideas and express emotions. Moreover, it develops the idea to explore its visual and sound qualities. The skillful organization of all additional tools such as lightings, editing, settings and sounds engage the audience’s minds and emotions. The directors of the film Shall We Dance succeeded not only because they oriented on broad-based spectators, but also because they combined all the means extremely skillfully and achieved breathtaking scenes that hook viewers’ attention.

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