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Gloomy Sunday (1999)

Gloomy Sunday - Ein Lied von Liebe und Tod (original title)
Follows three men who are in love with a most beautiful waitress: An intellectual restaurant owner, a mysterious musician and an erratic businessman; taking place during the WWII.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

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7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Hans Wieck
András Bálint ...
Ilonas Sohn
Géza Boros ...
Herr Wieck
Ilse Zielstorff ...
Frau Wieck
Ferenc Bács ...
Júlia Zsolnai ...
Frau des Botschafters
Áron Sipos ...
Arzt (as Aron Sipos)
Ernst Kahl ...
Zeichner Torresz
Jörg Gillner ...
Chefkoch István
Denis Moschitto ...
Lehrling Inas
István Mikó ...


Budapest in the thirties. The restaurant owner Laszlo hires the pianist András to play in his restaurant. Both men fall in love with the beautiful waitress Ilona who inspires András to his only composition. His song of Gloomy Sunday is, at first, loved and then feared, for its melancholic melody triggers off a chain of suicides. The fragile balance of the erotic ménage à trois is sent off kilter when the German Hans goes and falls in love with Ilona as well. Written by anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Romance | Drama


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Parents Guide:






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Release Date:

21 October 1999 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Gloomy Sunday  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$7,102 (USA) (22 June 2003)


$223,827 (USA) (23 November 2003)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film has been running daily at the Academy Arts Centre Theatre in Christchurch, New Zealand since 2001 - and you still have book in advance because it is sold out (it's shown in a small 11-seat theatre). See more »


Beginning at 1:22:06, we can clearly see the set lights over top of the transom that separates the restaurant's vestibule from its main dining room. See more »


László: Everyone would like it all: something for the body, something for the soul. Something that fills you up, something that makes you hungry.
See more »


Schöner Gigolo, Armer Gigolo
Music by Leonello Casucci
Lyrics by Julius Brammer
BMG UFA Musikverlag, München
See more »

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User Reviews

Haunting is the only way to describe the melancholic film Gloomy Sunday.
21 October 2002 | by (Otorohanga, New Zealand) – See all my reviews

The adult-orientated film explores such heavy issues as love, jealousy, hatred and betrayal in a graphic way that leaves the viewer reeling for hours afterwards. The German film, with English subtitles, begins in modern times at a Budapest restaurant where an elderly couple are enjoying a meal to celebrate the man's 80th birthday. He asks for the musicians to play `that famous song' as he focuses on a photograph of a beautiful young woman at the piano. As the violin plays the notes of Gloomy Sunday he keels over and dies. What follows is not so much a `whodunit' but who died and why. The audience is taken to pre-war Budapest restaurant owned by László Szabó (Joachim Król), a Jew, and his waitress and sometimes girlfriend Ilona Varniá (Erika Marozán). As the story unfolds the audience is introduced to the pianist András Aradi (Stefana Dionisi), who falls for Ilona, and composes the haunting Gloomy Sunday in her honour. A German industrialist, Hans Eberhard Wieker (Ben Becker), becomes a regular at the restaurant and he, too, falls for Ilona's charms. As the film progresses, and the men are vying for Ilona's affections, the song is recorded and sweeps the world. So heart-breaking is the song that more than one hundred people commit suicide while listening to it on their gramaphone. Some of these suicides are shown on screen. As World War II breaks out Wieker becomes a colonel in the German army and has a power over the other two men that, ultimately, leads to disaster for all involved. From a production point of view Gloomy Sunday cannot be faulted with authentic locales, clothes and music. Gloomy Sunday is a complex story that deals with the depravity of man, and its disastrous effects, as the three male leads share one women. Set against the backdrop of the holocaust there are elements of Schindler's List and a tone that matches Jane Campion's The Piano. Definitely an adult movie.

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