Monday, February 18, 2008

83. Film Review #7: Eclipse Series 7: Akira Kurosawa: SUBARASHIKI NICHIYOBI (One Wonderful Sunday) (1947)

A detailed analysis of the above film.



SUBARASHIKI NICHIYOBI (One Wonderful Sunday) (1947)

This magnificent film is no more or less interesting when one knows a few behind-the-scenes details. This is from Kurosawa's "autobiography":

"...My responsibilities included not only writing the script for my own film [this script, co-written with Keinosuke Uegusa], but also writing one segment of [another movie] as well as [another] screenplay...As it turned out, I actually accomplished all that I set out to do on this insane schedule, and the three scripts got written on time" [AK, p. 151].

The credits come up against his usual black background.

"A TOHO PRODUCTION."

"ONE WONDERFUL SUNDAY."

Hattori's music, splendid as usual, begins with the credits. Alternately majestic and playful, the symphonic music foreshadows the climax, without quoting it.

The music is about to come to a soft cadence when the loud horn of a train is heard. A train is roaring into a station.

It is necessary to quote DR immediately, concerning the very first shot of this film:

"...The opening shot is stunning -- the kind of shot that all directors want but which is extraordinarily difficult to capture. The camera is very close to the edge of the station platform. A train is rushing by at full speed and the image is blurred. Then it begins to slow down, the windows are discernible, then the doors, as they rush past. The train slows down, one by one the windows go by. Finally it stops and there, perfectly framed in a single window, is the girl -- looking out" [DR, p. 44].

And stunning it is. The girl, Masako (Chieko Nakakita), exits the crowded train and skips her way through the crowds, via several dissolves.

Although we have no way to know this, the camera now moves to a spot of ground elsewhere in the city -- it actually happens to be the ground which is Masako's destination!

At first, we just see the mass of feet moving past the camera. But after a dissolve, the camera is close on a cigarette butt on the ground. We see a pair of shoes which are not moving with the crowd, just a few inches away from the butt.

Cut to the man attached to those shoes, Yuzo (Isao Numasaki). He is standing there in coat and tie looking forlorn. We see him eyeing the butt on the ground. Finally, we see him pick it up and just as he is about to take a puff, it is knocked out of his hand by

Masako, who has just arrived. Yuzo tells her that he hasn't had a cigarette in days. They discuss their financial situation. He has 15 yen. She has 20. He is too proud to use her money, he tells her. He is depressed. She reminds him that it's Sunday, and tries to cheer him up.

They visit a 1947-style "model house" -- $100,000 yen for the first 100 buyers! We see a few American occupation trucks roar by. She can barely get him to come in and look at the model, even though it doesn't cost anything. She pretends to be the lady of the house, and invites him to enter the house through the front door. He finally plays her game and takes off his shoes and enters the model. They continue their financial discussion -- he is the hard realist, depressed because he knows they could never afford even a "cheap" house like this one. She, the dreamer, insists upon the right to do just that -- dream!

She reminds him that before the war he, too, had dreams. She looks around the model.

"The nice, cozy cafe we'd have after we got married. Good coffee and cake. 'The Hyacinth' -- we named it so." At this, Yuzo seems to cheer up for a moment. But reality crashes down on him quickly and he becomes himself again.

"The war blew it away," he says. He is upset at her for dreaming of owning a cafe when they cannot even afford to live together. She lives with her sister and he lives with a friend. He tells her that he just wants to be alone with her. He tries to kiss her. She doesn't let him. He pursues her; she is upset. He appears to be about to apologize when another couple enters the model. Masako and Yuzo start to leave when they hear the other couple say:

"...it's better than the room we saw..."

They ask the man for directions to the room.

Another wonderful scene follows, a glimpse into Kurosawa's fascination with trains:

POV is the other side of the railroad tracks -- the couple is running down a dirt path to the train crossing -- a train goes by, right to left. Masako has reached the crossing, but Yuzo has dropped his hat, and had to stop and pick it up. He runs to join her, but he is fumbling with his hat the whole time. When he reaches the tracks he is putting his hat on, and not looking, and only Masako's arm seems to prevent him from being a statistic and ending the film prematurely (!) ...

Now a train rushes by, right to left. The great thing in this shot is that you can see Masako's legs, jumping up and down in anticipation and frustration, in the white space between the bottom of the train and the bottom of the frame. [This is quite similar to the scene in The Most Beautiful where Shan is waiting for the train to pass so that she can see her friends again.]

They run across the tracks. Cut to a long shot of the couple, still running, coming up the narrow road to where the room is located.

They find that the room is not suitable or affordable. Yuzo bemoans the fact that the only good jobs are the illegal ones -- a major theme of this film, of course. In a quick jab at capitalism, the following:

A baseball hits an empty oil barrel upon which Masako has sat down. She retrieves it and throws it back to the boys who are playing with it -- saying:

"People who have big houses should consider us."

He looks at her and says, "They won't." Pause. "Why should they?" A very long silence here as they both are sitting on the oil barrels. Again, the boys' baseball arrives at their location. The sound of the boys playing baseball is all we've heard during this long silence. Finally, the boys come and get the ball. Eyeing the glum adults, one of them says, "they look worried." [a great moment!]

This cheers up Yuzo more than anything since we've first seen him! [of course] -- he joins their game. The next scene is a classic. First, Hattori orchestrated "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (with mandolin!) to score this scene! Yuzo steps up to bat, hat and coat still on. He swings and misses a pitch thrown by a child and falls into the dirt. Everyone laughs. He takes off his overcoat and tosses it to Masako. Now he's ready. The pitcher is about to pitch, when another American truck roars through the street/field (whether or not Kurosawa was making any kind of statement with these American "themes" is up to others to debate and decide -- but the movie is depicting 1947 Tokyo and therefore, these reminders tend to reinforce the feeling of the times. Of course, when Kurosawa made this movie, it was all in the present tense).

Then again, perhaps he is making a point with this particular scene. The truck has interrupted the game -- now a farmer coming through with his cow, pulling a cart, interrupts the game again. The "Twinkle Twinkle" music has stopped. The farmer slowly leaves the scene and we are left with a simple contrast: loud American truck versus quiet simple Japanese farm life..

Finally the game resumes, along with the music. The count is no balls, one strike. The boy throws a pitch. The child umpire rules it a ball. [I must admit, being a "student" of the game -- this scene thrills me! Most movies would have the hero hit the home run or strike out the batter -- but here, Kurosawa, a baseball fan himself, I believe, shows us the natural flow of a game -- even one played on the street by children!]

Finally, on the next pitch, he creams the ball. It lands in a bakery across the street.

Now, Hattori gets even more outrageous. Still using the mandolin, he scores this scene to the music of Bizet's famous music from "Carmen." The baker is screaming at the boys:

"Who did it? Who did it?" and Yuzo is walking forward, still carrying the bat, towards the baker across the street. He squashed some cookies -- that home run cost Yuzo 10 yen...
The Carmen music again. He returns the bat and ball and they go off to eat their cookies. For once, Yuzo is the optimist:

"Without the incident, we couldn't eat buns!"

She has found a card in his overcoat. "Cabaret Drum" -- Yuzo tells her about his buddy, Segawa, from the army who "couldn't even salute." Now, he's somehow involved in the cabaret business. She suggests they visit him -- she'd like to meet him. He hesitates.

The next thing we know, he is entering "Cabaret Drum." As soon as he is inside, he realizes how out of place he is, and how shabby he must look. Everyone is staring.

When Yuzo asks to see Segawa, he asks for the "president" -- Segawa is obviously a bigshot. The receptionist cannot believe this shabby man could have any business with him, so she balks at calling for him. This entire scene is very strange. The end result is that he never gets to see Segawa, and leaves with the knowledge that his old buddy is, in fact, a yakuza (gangster).

Now they move to a quiet spot, out of the rush of the crowds, near some railroad tracks.

They discuss the situation again. He hints that perhaps he should find employment in the black market. She scoffs at such an idea and just then they see a war orphan, in raggedy clothes, leaning against a fence (we can hear that a train is passing by). He offers them 10 yen for a rice ball (apparently, they have unpacked some food they brought with them). She gives it to him for free. As he climbs over the fence, the loud whistle of the train is heard. It is an identical sound to the train whistle in the "Crows" section of Akira Kurosawa's Dreams. [Also some great filmic geometry here, the way Kurosawa frames the boy between the two adults, etc.] The boy, although happy for the free rice ball, scorns their show of concern. He teases them that he makes more money than them [after all, he was willing to pay 10 yen for a rice ball]. Again a train whistle is heard at the end of this scene, as the boy wolfs down his rice...

The couple is now walking down a road. Now she is depressed (by the boy) and it is his turn to cheer her up. It doesn't take long, and soon they see a sign pointing to the zoo. If you pay attention, there is a math problem to solve here. He buys the tickets for the zoo and tells Masako there is 23 yen left. So how much were the tickets for the zoo? Correct: 1 yen each!

They look at a pig ("pigs are everywhere"); a pair of swans ("what a happy couple!"); bears ("fine coats!"); a goat ("life must be easy for them"); giraffes coming out from their tall barn door ("what a house! air-conditioned!"); a macaque ("as if we were the show, not them"); a pelican (very funny -- they associate it with the man they spoke to about the room); and a camel ("they look sad, too," he says. "You're sad," she observes...)

As they leave the zoo, the camera follows them from behind the outside bars of the zoo. "Beasts are happy," she says. "There's no inflation in their world." Yuzo looks up at the sky. "It's raining."

Now they are standing under a small, covered kiosk. At length, he invites her back to his place. Trying to get out of it, she invites him to her place.

"There are sixteen in your house. I won't be welcome."

He persists in her coming to his place. When she resists, he is ready to leave and go home -- her eyes are drawn to a poster plastered on the column of the kiosk.

Close-up of poster: "Franz Schubert" it says in English letters on top. The subtitle translates the rest: "Unfinished Symphony" -- and here Hattori begins the actual music from the Schubert. For just a moment, however. Soon he begins to weave his own score in and out of Schubert's great melody. It is quite lovely and foreshadows the big climax (again)...

She reminds him of their first date, when they heard this piece together. He reminds her that all the members of the "old" orchestra now work in cafes (Kurosawa is obviously trying to make a point here -- and the point is further reinforced, unintentionally, in this film itself, right here [**]) -- but she reminds him that Schubert doesn't work in the cafes! She begs and pleads with him.

"Is there a 10-yen concert?" he asks practically. There is, and so the concert is within their budget. With much effort, she convinces him that if they hurry they'll be in time for the concert. It must have been those final three ne's that did it...

They are next seen running down steps in the rain, catching a train (Her: "It's so slow! Go faster! Go faster! -- Allegro vivace !"). That gets a laugh from Yuzo...

They are running again, past a huge stadium (baseball?) [another train passes here!] and finally find themselves in a line for tickets to the concert. As we see them get out and combine their 20 yen together, the camera pans right to a man at the ticket window:

"B Tickets," he yells to the young woman behind the cage, dropping a huge wad of bills on the counter. "Not for you," she says. He takes the wad of bills and scrapes it violently across the bars of the cage -- "I'm paying!" he screams...

He leaves the window. "15 yen for B Tickets!" and he begins to scalp tickets. The man now directly in front of Masako and Yuzo buys out all the remaining B tickets. Yuzo gets into an argument with the scalpers and is beaten up.

In the next scene he is washing his hands at a spigot and she is asking him if he is allright.
It is still raining. "A miserable Sunday," she exclaims, brushing off his coat.

It is part of my mission to detail the extraordinary use of music and natural sound in Kurosawa films. This film is full of examples, but this one stands out in particular:
It is still raining hard. The camera now shoots the unhappy couple from behind in a medium-long shot -- they are standing in front of a metal grate, perhaps a subway entrance. For a few frames before the next cut, you can see a truck (still the same American truck?) enter frame right.

Cut to a close-up of a rut in the road -- the trucks wheels splash mud when they go over these ruts [I'll discuss this close-up later].

Cut to a close-up of the couple, still from behind the grate. Only the quiet sound of the rain is heard for a few moments. Finally he says, "I'll go home," and walks away to the right. "You too," he adds, barely looking at Masako.

Hattori's score begins right here [The strings are horribly out of tune. I realize that postwar conditions were difficult, but I imagine Kurosawa's little statement about the orchestras, above
[**], was probably more fact than fiction?]. In any case, the score continues without pause until here...

Masako leaves the frame to the right, as well -- short hold on the scene -- a view across the street from the grate -- without so much as a goodbye!

Dissolve to Yuzo in his hallway, drinking water. He puts the glass down and turns around, and takes out the key to open his door. Only then do we see Masako standing next to the door. He pays no attention to her at all. He opens the door and goes in, leaving the door ajar. A washerwoman comes up the stairway at the end of the hallway. She eyes Masako suspiciously as she mops the floor. Masako stands at the door. She turns and looks at the washerwoman, turns away, and enters the room. [Note: Hattori's score quotes the first two measures of the second movement of the "Unfinished" and then is original Hattori.] She stands there for a moment and closes the door. She comes over to join Yuzo on the floor. She wipes the rain off a little.

"What the matter?" she finally asks.

"I don't want to leave you like this. I can't go home. We meet only once a week." She notices him rubbing his arm. "Hurt?"

[ Hattori's score ends here.]

"It's not the body that hurts."

[I discussed Kurosawa's use of silence in his film made previous to this one, No Regrets for Our Youth. In this film, he manages two even longer sequences of silence: the first one begins at this point and lasts about two minutes and 22 seconds!]

The only sound is the sound of the rain. She notices that the floor is wet. Close on Masako as she looks up; cut to a shot of the water seeping through the ceiling -- we see a drop fall -- cut to Masako -- the camera holds on her for several beats; she looks at Yuzo...

The camera switches to him; quickly back to her. She looks at him, and it seems as if she is about to say something -- but she does not. She goes back to the problem of the dripping water. She looks around and gets up, opens his window and brings in a white pan from the outside [very subtle -- but she lingers for a moment and looks at his wall -- it seems to be in bad shape, just like the ceiling...].

She rejoins Yuzo and wipes off the bottom of the pan. She places the pan on the floor. She looks at Yuzo. He is staring away into space. She looks away. Suddenly a drop of water falls -- but it does not fall in the pan. She misjudged the trajectory. She moves the pan back a few inches. She again looks at Yuzo. Close on him, still staring. Cut to the pan, a drop falls in it. Cut to a close-up of Masako, her eyes following the drop of water in the pan. A hold on her as she seems to be summoning up the courage to speak. Finally, she forces a smile to her face, and does speak to him:

"Care for tea?"

"No."

"I'll buy some cake."

"No."

"What'll I do. Don't be mean. Don't look like that."

"Do I disgust you?" He lies down. "I'm a stray dog. (!) I'm disgusted...with myself..."

She continues to try to cheer him up: "Everybody's suffering. It's the times."

"The worst," he agrees.

"You worry only about now -- think about the future, have hope," she pleads.

"How can I? It's shattered, finished. I feel everyone is turning his back to me. I can feel I'm getting desperate. I can't trust myself. I want to explode! Blast it all!"

He finally turns and faces Masako. He is close to tears. "You're all I've got." Tears are beginning to roll down Masako's face -- He, too, is crying softly: "Only you..."

The camera POV is behind Yuzo's right shoulder at this point, on Masako, who is looking at Yuzo with a pitiful gaze. Yuzo lifts up his head suddenly. Cut to a medium profile shot. He is staring intensely at her. Soon his gaze returns to the floor. Masako bends her head to look at him and he returns her gaze. He purses his lips...

Cut to a close up of Yuzo's hands, holding the bowl which now has a few tablespoons of dirty, black water in it. Another drop falls into the pan during this cut. Still on the pan, we his hands push it away.

Cut to close on Masako, startled. Cut to close on Yuzo, a strange look in his eyes. Close on the pan with the dirty black water, swirling around in the pan. [I believe that Kurosawa is trying to show how Masako and Yuzo feel about sex at this point, with the "dirty" water...perhaps the mud splash from the truck above (here) was intended to reinforce this point, as well].

An ECU over his shoulder, at Masako's big (beautiful) eyes staring at her beloved, but as the camera finally finds her mouth, we see her confused expression. In his own confused demeanor, Yuzo now grabs Masako by the arms and ... and is doing what? shaking her, in an effort to convince her to have sex? -- however, as usual, Kurosawa begins to show us this action in this ECU at the very end of the cut -- we see Masako's face turn to a look of terror as Yuzo begins to shake her -- this is a filmic technique which he uses frequently when he is showing an important action...

Cut to a medium shot of Yuzo shaking Masako. Finally realizing this is not the way, he releases his grip on her. She quickly gets up and moves away (out of the frame, leaving only Yuzo, bewildered)...

Cut to a medium close-up on Masako -- also looking bewildered, tugging on the lapels of her overcoat, up to her neck...

Her gaze follows Yuzo. The camera stays on her, but we hear some sounds.

Cut to Yuzo at the door, locking it. Masako runs over and grabs him. "No. Not now!" she screams. They look at each other... she is genuinely scared of him at this moment ... finally, he leans against something and resumes his macho personality:

"You're still a kid..."

"I'll go home," she whimpers.

He makes a derisive noise. "Love is over?" Now begins the second sequence of no dialogue. This one lasts seven minutes and 26 seconds!

The camera follows him as he gets up and moves to the window, his back to the camera, his hands in his pockets. He stares straight ahead. Again we hear the sounds of the door locks. His head turns. Cut to the door. We see it is closed. Return to Yuzo; his head turns back to the window. He unplugs an electrical cord from a socket attached to a hanging light bulb.

Cut to a new shot -- looking at Yuzo from the front now, through his window. It is still raining, of course.

Cut to a new shot -- a view out his window, presumably -- in the left of the frame we see a storefront, with a big speaker mounted on a platform above the store -- and on the right side of the frame, from the bottom to the top, we see a bare tree, a large rooftop from the neighboring store, and, a short distance away at the top of the frame are other houses and rooftops. There is a sliver of sky and more distant landmarks at the very top of the frame. Also visible are the umbrellas of the anonymous individuals on the street below. It is a stunning shot.


Cut back to the previous shot of Yuzo through the window. He lowers his eyes dejectedly and turns around. Cut to interior shot again. Yuzo walks slowly over a cabinet. He rests his head against the wall for a good 20 seconds or so. He then turns around and heads back towards the window. He kicks something -- Masako's forgotten purse. He shuffles around for another moment. Suddenly, he grabs the teapot, and takes a couple of swallows directly from the spout. He grabs his "pillow", rolls it up and lies down on the floor. He fidgets. He moves the pan right next to him to catch the falling drops. Just after he does so, a drop falls into the pan. It is a second after this drop hits the pan that the music begins to play from the speaker across the street. It is loud and obnoxious. DR says it is an "American tango."

The camera remains on Yuzo for a few seconds, then switches to a close-up of the speaker, the rain falling heavily all around.

Cut back to Yuzo, now pacing his room. He stops. He sees Masako's purse on the floor.

Close-up on the purse. We see a little teddy bear on the right side of the opening of the purse.

Cut to an ECU of the teddy bear! It is very cute.

Cut to a medium close shot of Yuzo, staring down at the purse. He bends down.

Cut the ECU of the teddy bear, as his hand enters the frame and his fingers grab the bear.

Back to the previous shot -- he puts the bear in his other hand, holding it delicately.

Another ECU on the bear, sitting on his palm. His fingers close in on the bear and cover it.

Back to the medium shot. He bends down and picks up her handkerchief and purse [ECU]. He puts the purse down on a table in front of his window and kneels in front of the table. He has placed the little bear on the left side of the table and is folding her handkerchief. He puts it in the purse. He picks up the bear, looks at it for a moment, and then puts it in the purse, as well. He folds the purse in half and moves it forward on the table.

In an excruciatingly long, silent scene -- he removes his right hand from the purse and brings it back towards his body. [The music stops here.] He is still for a moment or two and then puts his elbows on the table. At length, we hear the sound of those door locks again. He turns his head. Masako enters slowly.

Cut to Yuzo. He stands up, nervously holding his hands together.

Cut to a new angle -- a long shot, or as long as Yuzo's cramped apartment permits --
Masako on the left, Yuzo on the right and a bare wall fills the center of frame.

Masako, never looking at Yuzo, comes in and faces this wall. Her overcoat is soaking wet. Her hands reach for the belt of the coat -- and even though she is facing the wall, we can see and hear that she is unfastening the belt. Yuzo is standing, slightly bent over, looking at Masako and not moving.

We hear a snap -- the belt is unfastened. Suddenly she drops to the floor, crying. He runs over to her. "Masako!" he says, breaking the silence. He is still standing. The dialogue is back! "Don't!...I understand. You stupid! [He is now holding her right arm]. You don't have to do this. It's okay."

Now he is crying. He finally stoops down to her level. "You are stupid." He holds her right arm again. "It's alright, it's alright. I understand your feeling."

Finally, he pulls her to her feet. "You are stupid." She is crying uncontrollably. Finally, Hattori's score begins again. "Don't cry. You are stupid."

Finally, the crying stops. Hattori's music echoes the blaring music from before. Here is what DR says about what happens now:

"...The strains of the tango, all in the minor, occur and reoccur. She finally moves to the window, looks out, says: 'Oh, the sun is shining' -- and, at the same time, the tango shifts to major, It is a magical and very simple effect, precisely as though the sun had come out" [DR, p. 44].

"It stopped raining." The tango does indeed go into major at this point...

Yuzo is smiling now! "Let's go out again. Have some tea..."

A few beautiful dissolves later, they are in a cafe, their heads in their hands. They almost look content.

About that tango:

"...After this, the tango accompanies them to the real coffee shop (where it is revealed as radio music) and later to the imaginary coffee shop)" [DR, p. 44].

They drink tea and eat cakes. In a lovely scene, we see them taking a bite of their cakes. She politely puts the cake down on her plate and pushes it away -- he does the same, somewhat less politely. Without any dialogue, they convey the impression that they don't like the cake.

The bill comes.

"30 yen? Strange. 5 yen for coffee; 5 for cake; 5 yen each 4 times 5 is 20; strange..."

Finally Yuzo discovers the scheme. "It says 'coffee with milk' -- it's 20 yen plus two cakes...30 yen. It's cheating!"

Yuzo musters up as much dignity as possible at the cash register. He hands the man his 20 yen and takes off his overcoat and puts it down on the counter, as well, and they walk out -- but he returns to take his belongings out of the pockets. As they walk across the street, the image

Dissolves into another shot of the couple, nearly in the same position as the preceding cut. They are now on a set which, although obviously cheap, is compelling in its depiction of postwar Tokyo. Everything around them is smashed to bits. We hear the sound of trains again!

Once again, Yuzo feels humiliated. But Masako quickly cheers him up and they discuss their plans to open their own cafe someday. They go through a lovely, touching, and funny pantomime, where Masako is the customer and Yuzo is the cafe-owner.

Eventually, they see that they are being observed by some passers-by -- they quickly scurry off the set.

Now they are swinging on swings by the full moon. He sings. She laughs. This scene is beautifully photographed from a variety of different camera angles.

He sees a sign: "Outdoor Music Hall" -- they run down the steps between the empty rows of bench seats. He wipes of a bench in front for her to sit.

You are either going to love or hate the rest of this film.

He wants to conduct an imaginary orchestra in a performance of Schubert's "Unfinished" symphony. The metaphor of this title to their relationship is obvious enough. The trick to this very corny scene, in my opinion, is to get past that corniness and see a man sharing what fires his imagination with the one he loves -- and there can be no doubt that he does love her, and her him -- and at the same time, trying to maintain his dignity in the face of a world full of indignities. Of course, it also helps if you like the music.

After describing the invisible orchestra to her ("...now they're tuning up...hear them? Can you?" -- she nods sheepishly), he goes up to the stage of the band shell. He raises his arms to begin to conduct. But he is still filled with uncertainty. He descends the steps again, and she encourages him. This time, he enters formally from the wings, and she applauds. Again he raises his arms. He begins conducting, in 3/4 time, exactly as the Schubert would begin. However, we do not hear an orchestra. We hear the howling of the wind (a favorite Kurosawa sound). He stops after just two measures. He begins again. Again he stops after two measures; again he descends the steps, again he is depressed, defeated.

Again he raises his arms to conduct. Again the wind. Again he stops. Again, he comes down the steps and sits down. Again, she tries to cheer him up. He remains dejected.
After fidgeting with Yuzo and walking around the stage, the wind still howling, leaves blowing, Masako turns around and walks towards the camera. She looks straight into the camera and says:

"Everyone! [she's talking to us!] Please applaud." [The camera moves in close.]

"Encourage him with your warm, kind hearts. Help him. There are many poor young lovers like us. Please give them a big hand and cheer them up. In the cold wind of the world, they're frozen. Poor young lovers! They're waiting for your warm hearts. Help them have beautiful dreams. Encourage them. Applaud them. Please! Applaud their dreams! Please! Please, all of you!"

She turns towards Yuzo and begins to applaud vigorously. She continues to applaud throughout the next shots. Cut to a medium shot. Yuzo also sees the camera (and us) at this point. He peers out towards the camera. Masako stops clapping. They both face the camera.

Masako: "Thank you! Thank you!" Yuzo bows and fidgets...

Here is what Kurosawa has to say about this:

"...My intention here was to elicit audience participation in the film by addressing them directly ... [t]he experiment proved to be a failure in Japan. The Japanese audience sat stock still, and because they couldn't bring themselves to applaud, the whole thing was a failure. But in Paris it succeeded. Because the French audience responded with wild applause, the sound of the orchestra tuning up at the tail end of the clapping gave rise to the powerful and unusual emotion I had hoped for" [This makes sense.] [AK, p. 153].

Suddenly we hear an orchestra tuning up. They look at each other in wonder! The leaves are blowing across the empty stage. Yuzo is smiling broadly. He takes off his coat. She gets a knitting needle and gives him his "baton" -- He turns to face the imaginary orchestra. The tuning up comes to a stop. This time, with Yuzo's downbeat begins

The first movement of Schubert's "Unfinished" symphony. [Although Numasaki's conducting is off at times, all in all he does a pretty good job!] After the first few measures, he looks back at Masako for reassurance and she smiles encouragingly...He turns around quickly, just in time for the downbeat of Measure 8, when the strings begin a mysterious section of softly repeated 16th notes...

The leaves blow across the stage. We hear almost the entire first movement! The shots alternate between Yuzo and Masako. Kurosawa does a masterful job of simply letting the music share the "stage" with the characters' emotions -- Masako is in tears at one point -- he is completely wrapped up in the moment.

Then -- suddenly -- during the coda, she rushes up to him and grabs him from behind. This ends Yuzo's conducting. He looks at her for a moment and then embraces her tightly, The camera dollies back and up for a moment, then moves to the bench [it is during this shot that the first movement cuts off (almost at the end, but not quite) and the second movement begins] and pans leftward to her purse and close on the cute little bear.

Dissolve to a medium-long shot of the couple on a bench at a train station. They sit still, Yuzo with his hands interlocked, his arms resting on his legs; Masako resting her arms on her purse, chin in her hands; both are pensive. Next to Masako is a box-shaped container which says "TRASH" on it in English letters. A railroad man with a lantern walks by.

Dissolve to a much closer shot with just the couple and the trash can in the frame.

Dissolve to a closer shot with just the couple, from the knees up.

Dissolve to an even closer shot, just heads.

The music stops! A total and complete silence of 12 seconds.

An oboe sounds, ready to tune the orchestra [Kurosawa (and Hattori?)] could have made this much more interesting if they had used an actual "A" -- the note an oboe sounds to tune an orchestra. Instead, we hear an Eb!] -- but is it an oboe? No, it is the whistle of the train coming into the station!

He holds her arm and stands; she follows. They look at each other. He straightens up her overcoat.

"Well, good night," he says.

She says nothing. Close-up on her. A great big smile creeps over her face. She lifts her head:

"See you next Sunday."

She boards the train. He waves goodbye.

After the train is gone, he begins to walk away. He sees a cigarette butt on the ground. He looks at it lovingly. Then he looks in the direction of the departing train. He looks down at the butt. His face and mouth give away his newly found determination. He crushes the butt with his shoe.

The music begins again (the second movement). He seems to be whistling. He stretches and looks out over the [very fake-looking] city set. He turns.

Quasi-dissolve to black. Credits in white letters: "One Wonderful Sunday" "The End" c. 1947 Toho Co., Ltd.

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SOURCES:

Stephen Prince: "The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa," (Princeton University Press (1991/1999) [SP]

Donald Richie: "The Films of Akira Kurosawa," University of California Press (1998) [DR]

James Goodwin: "Akira Kurosawa and Intertextual Cinema," The John Hopkins University Press (1994) [JG]

Stuart Galbraith IV: "The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune," Faber and Faber (2001) [SG]

Akira Kurosawa: "Something Like an Autobiography," Vintage Books (1983) [AK]

There are no wipes in this film.

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