Seven Nights in Japan Film Details
Overview: The fictional British royal Prince George travels to Japan and falls in love with a local female tour guide named Sumi. He considers breaking the rules and staying with her there, but a Japanese gangster wants him dead.
Review: “Seven Nights in Japan” is an unacknowledged remake of “Roman Holiday”, with a change of geographical location and the sexes of the leading characters reversed. The main male character is Prince George, the fictitious heir to the British throne. (References to his father suggest that the story takes place in an alternate history in which Britain had a King rather than a Queen during the 1970s). While on an official visit to Japan, George gets bored with the programme of visits laid on for him and goes AWOL from the British Embassy. He meets and has a brief affair with a beautiful Japanese girl, Sumi, who is working as a bus tour guide. A complicating factor is that for some reason George has fallen foul of a group of Japanese gangsters who want him dead. “Roman Holiday” is often regarded as a classic of the cinema. Despite the similarity in theme, “Seven Nights in Japan” is largely forgotten today. There are two main reasons for this. The earlier film had the advantages of a fine script from Dalton Trumbo and two stellar performances from Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. “Seven Nights in Japan”, by contrast, has a very thin storyline. The “gangster” subplot was presumably added to try and make the story more substantial, but this part of the film is often confusing. The relevant scenes are all played out in Japanese without subtitles, so English-speakers never get to understand why the villains want George dead. Are they fanatical patriots bent on avenging Japan’s wartime defeat by Britain and her allies? Or is their murderous fury connected with George’s failure to pay his drinks bill in a nightclub? (It would appear that certain elements in Japan still regard this as a capital offence). At one point one of the villains has George in the sights of his rifle but is prevented from firing the fatal shot by the timely arrival of the police. The police, however, make no attempt to warn George of the danger he is in, something the scriptwriters never bother to explain. It is also never explained why, except possibly the gangsters, nobody in Japan recognises George for who he is. The heir to the British throne would, after all, be one of the most recognisable people in the world, with his picture plastered over every newspaper and magazine in any country he visits. Even Sumi does not cotton on to his true identity until very late in the day. The other reason why this film will never be another “Roman Holiday” is the acting. Michael York seems too casual and laid-back. The script tells us that George falls deeply in love with Sumi, but York’s demeanour seems to suggest that this is no more than a brief fling, with no emotions involved on his part other than sexual desire. Apart from her beauty, Hidemi Aoki manages to convey Sumi’s essential innocence and sweetness of character, but her command of English is not good, and she can be difficult to understand. (I was not surprised to learn that this was to be her only English-language film). Unlike the characters played by Peck and Hepburn, George and Sumi go to bed together, an illustration of the way in which cinematic attitudes to sex had changed between 1953 and 1976. The film caused some mild controversy in the seventies, but not because of its sexual content per se. There is some brief nudity, but nothing too explicit compared to what you could see in some British films of the period. The problem seems to have been that in 1976 we were not used to having the sex lives of our Royals- even fictitious Royals- held up to scrutiny. The inter-racial aspect may also have played a part in this controversy- I doubt if there would have been quite so much fuss had George met and bedded, say, a French girl on a trip to Paris. Today both the film and the controversy it caused look very dated. Ever since the early nineties, when the rifts in the marriage of Charles and Diana became a running story in every tabloid throughout the world, we have had to accept that the sex lives of our Royal Family are now public property. The marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has finally put paid to the idea that British Royals must be Caucasians, an idea which today seems absurdly reactionary but which in the seventies would have enjoyed widespread if tacit support. I saw this curious seventies period piece when it was recently shown on a specialist movie channel. If the idea was to pay tribute to its director Lewis Gilbert, who died last year, the station could have found many much better examples of his work than this one. 4/10
Country: France, UK, Japan
Duration: 104 min
Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Music, Romance
Also known as: Sette notti in Giappone,Seven Nights in Japan,Sete Dias de Amor,Hét éjszaka Japánban,Sete Noites no Japão,Siedem nocy w Japonii,7 nyhtes stin Iaponia,Zaman dursa da,Königliche Hoheit in Japan,Prins på vift,Siete noches en Japón,7 νύχτες στην Ιαπωνία