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Film / One Wonderful Sunday

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One Wonderful Sunday is a 1947 film directed by Akira Kurosawa.

The film opens with a young man named Yuzo waiting for his fiancée, Masako. Yuzo and Masako once had dreams of opening a coffee shop together, but then they were separated by the war. Yuzo made it home alive, but now the two of them are working poverty-level jobs and living with other people (he with an old friend, her with her sister). They do not have enough money to get an apartment so they only see each other on Sundays, the one day a week they have off. On this day they have only ¥35, not very much money, for the whole day. The two young lovers try to have as much fun as they can.



  • All Women Are Prudes: You would think that there's one thing Yuzo and Masako could do to pass the time on a Sunday afternoon that doesn't cost any money at all. Yet when Yuzo makes an aggressive sexual advance to Masako in his room, she recoils. It might be because of his demeanor, as he's pretty bitter and pissed off at this point, but her rejection only makes him more pissed off.
    Yuzo: (bitterly) Always the prim little lady.
  • Born in the Theater: The Clap Your Hands If You Believe moment (see below), where Masako addresses the camera directly and asks the "ladies and gentlemen" watching the movie to clap for them.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The only instance of this in the Kurosawa canon, and a quite startling one. The couple, having failed to get tickets to the Schubert concert thanks to dirtbag scalpers, have made their way to an empty amphitheater. They elect to pretend that they're listening to a Schubert concert. Yuzo gets up to "conduct", but loses the spirit and shrugs his shoulders in despair. Masako jumps onto the stage to cheer him up. When this fails, she turns and looks straight at the camera and urges the movie audience to clap for them, and for all the young people in post-war Japan who can't afford to get married. Yuzo also looks at the camera hopefully. After this, Schubert music comes up on the soundtrack. See also Clap Your Hands If You Believe below.
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  • Broken Glass Penalty: Yuzo, playing baseball in the street with kids, hits a ball through the sign across the street and into a bakery. It lands in a plate of sweet buns. The baker comes out angry, only to be brought up short when he sees a grown man still holding the bat in his hands. The baker still makes Yuzo pay ten yen for two rolls.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Yuzo and Masako are trying to pretend that they are watching a Schubert concert, but Yuzo loses the spirit and slumps in defeat. Masako then looks straight at the camera and urges the audience to clap in support. After a brief moment, Schubert's Unfinished Symphony swells on the soundtrack. (Apparently this moment landed with a thud in Japanese theaters in 1947, as most people didn't clap.)
  • Epic Tracking Shot: A long tracking shot follows Yuzo and Masako dashing across an open square in the rain.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: It can't be more than, say, ten hours or so, from mid-morning until after dark.
  • Ironic Juxtaposition: The kids' baseball game is interrupted by a loud U.S. Army truck barreling through. Then it is interrupted again by a Japanese ox pulling a plow the other way through. The distinction between old and new is very neatly drawn.
  • Kitchen Sink Drama: A drama of the working poor in urban Japan, which also shows how people who are less honest make scads of money on the black market.
  • Pretty in Mink: Yuzo and Masako are strolling around a model home that they can't even think about being able to afford, when they are interrupted by a more successful young couple. The film gets this across by dressing the other woman in a mink coat.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: Well, Yuzo didn't hit the lottery or anything. But after imagining what their coffee shop will look like, and even imagining starting out with a sidewalk stand, they go to the train station. They embrace and bid each other goodbye, and make a date to meet again next Sunday.
  • Street Urchin: The couple meet an urchin while out wandering. It's a tossup what's more depressing, whether it's seeing a homeless urchin in the first place, or finding out that the homeless urchin is more successful than they are when he offers to pay ¥10 for a single rice ball.
  • Title Drop: An optimistic Masako says "it's a wonderful Sunday" when she first goes off with Yuzo. Later a bitter Yuzo says they've had "a miserable Sunday".