One Wonderful Sunday


1h 48m 1947

Brief Synopsis

An engaged couple tries to enjoy their Sunday holiday without spending any money.

Film Details

Also Known As
Subarashiki Nichiyobi, Wonderful Sunday
Genre
Drama
Foreign
Romantic Comedy
Release Date
1947
Production Company
Toho Company Ltd.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Yuzo and his fiancée Masako spend their Sunday afternoon together, trying to have a good time on just thirty-five yen. They manage to have many small adventures, especially because Masako's optimism and belief in dreams is able to lift Yuzo from his realistic despair.

Film Details

Also Known As
Subarashiki Nichiyobi, Wonderful Sunday
Genre
Drama
Foreign
Romantic Comedy
Release Date
1947
Production Company
Toho Company Ltd.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

One Wonderful Sunday


Director Akira Kurosawa, one of the true masters of cinema, is world-renowned for the grandiose visuals of such pictures as Throne of Blood (1957) and Ran (1985), and the dense psychological scrutiny of Rashomon (1950) and Ikiru (1952). So One Wonderful Sunday, a sentimental story about an engaged couple hoping to enjoy a lazy day in post-WW II Japan, is a bit of an anomaly in Kurosawa's oeuvre. Its tone, rather than offering shades of Griffith or Eisenstein, instead owes a great deal to one of Kurosawa's favorite directors, none other than Frank Capra, and there's even a dash of Charlie Chaplin thrown in for good measure.

Actually, the movie's title is mainly ironic. The story takes place in a Japan that's been ravaged by war. There's rubble in the streets and a general sense of disarray, and the two main characters, Yuzo (Isao Numasaki) and Masako (Chieko Nakakita) are so poor they have to combine what little money they have each Sunday to manage a meager date. But, even in the face of a partially shattered culture, they labor to both revel in fantasy and keep looking forward.

Some critics have argued that One Wonderful Sunday's tone wavers, and Kurosawa does appear, at times, to be uncertain of how he wants to tell the story. But the contrast between studio set pieces and scenes shot on real city streets is always interesting. This may well be the only Japanese film to ever utilize a lighthearted, playful neo-realistic approach and Kurosawa went to great lengths to achieve it. In his autobiography, Something Like an Autobiography, he recounts several amusing incidents that took place while he and his crew were striving to achieve a naturalistic feel.

"The leads in One Wonderful Sunday were Numasaki and Nakakita Chieko," Kurosawa writes, "both of whom were still unknowns at the time. In order to do city location shooting, all we had to do was disguise the camera; no one recognized the actors' faces. For these hidden-camera location sequences we put the camera in a box, which was in turn wrapped in a carrying cloth that had only a hole for the lens to poke through. This could then be hand-carried."

"One day we planned a location shot in Tokyo's Shinjuku Station. I set the camera bundle down on the platform and waited for the train to arrive. We were going to film Nakakita stepping off of it. But as I stood there an old man appeared from somewhere and planted himself right in front of the camera. I attempted to nudge him out of the way. But after I bumped him in the side, he frantically thrust his hand into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He thought I was a pickpocket." He also recounts another time, while filming in the city of Shinjuku, when a streetwalker ruined a shot by pausing dead in the center of the action to scratch her behind. But oblivious non-actors were the least of Kurosawa's worries. In some sequences, he and the camera crew actually had trouble locating the two lead actors among the crowd.

"Numasaki wore a baggy suit and a military overcoat, and Nakakita an oversized raincoat and the kind of scarf you might see anywhere, so you certainly couldn't say they stood out in a crowd," Kurosawa writes. "In fact, they blended in so well with the throngs of other couples in the same kind of drab attire that both the cameraman and I lost track of them any number of times. The story called for them to be the kind of young couple you might see anywhere in Japan at that time, so in that sense they were perfect for the parts. And for that reason they seem to me, as I think about them today, to be like a couple I met by chance right after the war in Shinjuku, talked with and became friends with, rather than protagonists of a movie."

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Screenplay: Akira Kurosawa, Keinosuke Uekusa
Producer: Sojiro Motoki
Music: Tadashi Hattori
Cinematography: Asakazu Nakai
Production Design: Kazuo Kubo
Special Effects: Regis Survinski, Tony Pantanello
Cast: Isao Numasaki (Yuzo), Chieko Nakakita (Masako), Atsushi Watanabe (Yamamato), Zeko Nakamura (Dessert Shop Owner), Ichiro Namiki (Street Photographer), Toppa Utsumi (Street Photographer), Ichiro Sugai (Yamiya), Masao Shimizu (Dance Hall Manager), Tokuji Kobayashi (Overweight Apartment Receptionist).
B&W-108m.

by Paul Tatara

One Wonderful Sunday

One Wonderful Sunday

Director Akira Kurosawa, one of the true masters of cinema, is world-renowned for the grandiose visuals of such pictures as Throne of Blood (1957) and Ran (1985), and the dense psychological scrutiny of Rashomon (1950) and Ikiru (1952). So One Wonderful Sunday, a sentimental story about an engaged couple hoping to enjoy a lazy day in post-WW II Japan, is a bit of an anomaly in Kurosawa's oeuvre. Its tone, rather than offering shades of Griffith or Eisenstein, instead owes a great deal to one of Kurosawa's favorite directors, none other than Frank Capra, and there's even a dash of Charlie Chaplin thrown in for good measure. Actually, the movie's title is mainly ironic. The story takes place in a Japan that's been ravaged by war. There's rubble in the streets and a general sense of disarray, and the two main characters, Yuzo (Isao Numasaki) and Masako (Chieko Nakakita) are so poor they have to combine what little money they have each Sunday to manage a meager date. But, even in the face of a partially shattered culture, they labor to both revel in fantasy and keep looking forward. Some critics have argued that One Wonderful Sunday's tone wavers, and Kurosawa does appear, at times, to be uncertain of how he wants to tell the story. But the contrast between studio set pieces and scenes shot on real city streets is always interesting. This may well be the only Japanese film to ever utilize a lighthearted, playful neo-realistic approach and Kurosawa went to great lengths to achieve it. In his autobiography, Something Like an Autobiography, he recounts several amusing incidents that took place while he and his crew were striving to achieve a naturalistic feel. "The leads in One Wonderful Sunday were Numasaki and Nakakita Chieko," Kurosawa writes, "both of whom were still unknowns at the time. In order to do city location shooting, all we had to do was disguise the camera; no one recognized the actors' faces. For these hidden-camera location sequences we put the camera in a box, which was in turn wrapped in a carrying cloth that had only a hole for the lens to poke through. This could then be hand-carried." "One day we planned a location shot in Tokyo's Shinjuku Station. I set the camera bundle down on the platform and waited for the train to arrive. We were going to film Nakakita stepping off of it. But as I stood there an old man appeared from somewhere and planted himself right in front of the camera. I attempted to nudge him out of the way. But after I bumped him in the side, he frantically thrust his hand into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He thought I was a pickpocket." He also recounts another time, while filming in the city of Shinjuku, when a streetwalker ruined a shot by pausing dead in the center of the action to scratch her behind. But oblivious non-actors were the least of Kurosawa's worries. In some sequences, he and the camera crew actually had trouble locating the two lead actors among the crowd. "Numasaki wore a baggy suit and a military overcoat, and Nakakita an oversized raincoat and the kind of scarf you might see anywhere, so you certainly couldn't say they stood out in a crowd," Kurosawa writes. "In fact, they blended in so well with the throngs of other couples in the same kind of drab attire that both the cameraman and I lost track of them any number of times. The story called for them to be the kind of young couple you might see anywhere in Japan at that time, so in that sense they were perfect for the parts. And for that reason they seem to me, as I think about them today, to be like a couple I met by chance right after the war in Shinjuku, talked with and became friends with, rather than protagonists of a movie." Director: Akira Kurosawa Screenplay: Akira Kurosawa, Keinosuke Uekusa Producer: Sojiro Motoki Music: Tadashi Hattori Cinematography: Asakazu Nakai Production Design: Kazuo Kubo Special Effects: Regis Survinski, Tony Pantanello Cast: Isao Numasaki (Yuzo), Chieko Nakakita (Masako), Atsushi Watanabe (Yamamato), Zeko Nakamura (Dessert Shop Owner), Ichiro Namiki (Street Photographer), Toppa Utsumi (Street Photographer), Ichiro Sugai (Yamiya), Masao Shimizu (Dance Hall Manager), Tokuji Kobayashi (Overweight Apartment Receptionist). B&W-108m. by Paul Tatara

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