One Wonderful Sunday (Japanese: 素晴らしき日曜日, Hepburn: Subarashiki Nichiyōbi) is a 1947 Japanese film co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa.[1] It was made during the allied occupation of Japan and shows some of the challenges of life in early post-war Tokyo. The film is notable in the Kurosawa canon as the director's only shomin-geki,[2] and because of a fourth wall-breaking scene at the climax. It is in black-and-white and runs 108 minutes.

One Wonderful Sunday
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAkira Kurosawa
Written byAkira Kurosawa
Keinosuke Uekusa
Produced bySojiro Motoki
StarringIsao Numasaki
Chieko Nakakita
CinematographyAsakazu Nakai
Music byTadashi Hattori
Distributed byToho
Release date
25 June 1947
Running time
108 minutes

Plot edit

Yuzo and his fiancée, Masako, meet in Tokyo on a Sunday for their weekly date. They are determined to have a nice day even though they only have thirty-five yen between them, but this is easier said than done: they hear about an apartment they hope to rent so they can live together, but find it is too expensive. Yuzo plays baseball with a group of children but accidentally damages a manjū shop. They visit a club owned by someone Yuzo knew in the army, but cannot get in because the manager refuses to believe that someone dressed as shabbily as Yuzo could really know the owner. They go to the zoo, but it starts to rain and they have no umbrella, so they try to see a performance of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony only to find that ticket scalpers have already bought up all the cheap tickets to sell at a markup.

The unlucky lovers go back to the apartment Yuzo is sharing with a friend (who will be away until the evening), but Masako leaves after Yuzo angrily tries to force himself on her; forgetting her purse, they reconcile when she comes back for it. The rain stops, and they go to a café, where they are charged for two café au lait, which are twice as expensive as the coffee they thought they had ordered. Yuzo gives his coat to the restaurant as collateral, promising to pay back the rest of the bill when he can afford it. Yuzo's spirits begin to lift as he and Masako talk about their dream of opening a "café for the masses" with good food and drinks at reasonable prices; they even act out running their shop in an empty lot they pass by. Yuzo then takes Masako to an empty outdoor amphitheater, where he pantomimes conducting a performance of the Unfinished Symphony they were not able to see earlier in the day. After this, they part ways until the following Sunday.

Cast edit

Production edit

One Wonderful Sunday is seen as a variation on the shomin-geki genre.[2][4] On the film's climatic fourth wall-breaking scene, where the character Masako turns to the camera with moist eyes and earnestly asks the audience to applaud so that Yuzo and her can hear the music they are imagining, Akira Kurosawa said he wanted to "transform the audience into actual participants in the plot".[4] Although Japanese audiences sat motionless during the scene, creating an "awkward empty space" where Kurosawa intended engagement, the director later happily remarked that audiences in Paris applauded with enthusiasm.[2][4]

Reissues edit

The Criterion Collection has released One Wonderful Sunday on DVD in North America as part of two Kurosawa-centered box sets; 2008's Postwar Kurosawa, the seventh entry in their Eclipse series, and 2009's AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa.[5]

Reception edit

Rita Kempley of The Washington Post called One Wonderful Sunday "stylistically excessive, [and] wildly experimental", but wrote it does presage the genius of Kurosawa's later works, "with low tracking shots, characteristically close crops and obstructive scenery making their debut. It's like looking for footprints, tracking the master this apprentice was to become."[2] David A. Conrad found One Wonderful Sunday to be one of many occupation-era Japanese films that parallel the more famous Italian neorealism movement, emphasizing poverty, hunger, weakening social mores, and urban dilapidation in the years after World War II.[6]

Awards edit

References edit

  1. ^ "若きクロサワが描く味わい深い人間賛歌 黒澤明素晴らしき日曜日". サライ. 18 July 2017. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Kempley, Rita (5 September 1986). "'One Wonderful Sunday' (NR)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  3. ^ "堺 左千夫(読み)サカイ サチオ新撰 芸能人物事典 明治~平成「堺 左千夫」の解説". kotobank. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Koresky, Michael (14 January 2008). "Eclipse Series 7: Postwar Kurosawa". Criterion Collection. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  5. ^ "One Wonderful Sunday". Criterion Collection. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  6. ^ Conrad, David A. (2022). Akira Kurosawa and Modern Japan. McFarland & Co.
  7. ^ "素晴らしき日曜日の解説". kotobank. Retrieved 28 September 2021.

External links edit