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In 1965 the planned closing of a coal mine in Iwaki (northeastern Japan) will put 2,000 people out of work with devastating effects on the community. The mining company plans to build the Hawaiian Center to promote tourism, but the idea meets with resistance by the community's union families who boycott the effort. However, a few of the young women in Joban see the call for dancers to possibly provide a more promising future. Norio Yoshimoto is put in charge of organizing the center, with Madoka Hirayama, a professional dancer fleeing creditors in Tokyo hired to train the dancers. Kimiko, her friend Sanae, and Sayuri are amongst the handful first showing up for lessons but soon others join them. When Kimiko's mother, Chiyo, discovers that she has skipped school classes to learn dancing the two argue and Kimiko leaves home. Her brother Yojiro, one of the newly out of work miners, comes to be supportive of her dancing as he becomes protective of Madoka. The girls start to tour ... Written by
This film was quite dramatic. There were some very emotional scenes. I often cried. The dance scenes were simple (subtle) and quite appropriate. We get a realistic glimpse into the Japanese homes, the workplace and the local eating place, as well as some Japanese customs (particularly the sumimasen), in this small 1960's Japanese town.
A Hula Dance teacher is brought to a small mining town to teach Hula to the young girls in hopes that the town will create a Hawaiian tourist attraction in the near future. The young girls are presented with an opportunity to change their fate (and unknowingly, the fate of their town). The majority of the townsfolk are in complete opposition, putting the young girls at serious odds with their families and the society in which the live.
This story is loaded with dramatic personal interactions between characters. Many of the characters are developing (people becoming better persons). The sensei undergoes a bit of an attitude adjustment, inspired by her dancers. However, it is not until a climactic Hula Show that we realize the true heroine of Hula Girls.
I shall recommend this to all aspiring dancers. This review was based on the Japanese film with English subtitles.
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