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The Emperor's New Clothes
The Emperor's New Clothes
Actors: Ian Holm, Iben Hjejle, Tim McInnerny, Tom Watson, Nigel Terry
Director: Alan Taylor
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
PG     2002     1hr 47min

Alternative history and whimsical imagination make comfortable bedfellows in The Emperor's New Clothes. As happens in Simon Leys's novel The Death of Napoleon, the French emperor's demise is faked as part of a political...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Ian Holm, Iben Hjejle, Tim McInnerny, Tom Watson, Nigel Terry
Director: Alan Taylor
Creators: Alan Taylor, Hanno Huth, James Wilson, Kevin Molony, Herbie Wave, Simon Leys
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Romantic Comedies, Love & Romance
Studio: Paramount
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 12/10/2002
Original Release Date: 01/01/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2002
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Betsy D. from ARLINGTON, VA
Reviewed on 5/21/2010...
Ian Holm is wonderful as Napoleon.
Michelle H. (snoozemouse) from CHEYENNE, WY
Reviewed on 4/8/2010...
I really like this movie, Ian Holme is wonderful as Napoleon.I highly recommend this movie.

Movie Reviews

Simple contentment is sometimes its own reward
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 07/18/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Napoleon died in 1821 in comfortable exile on the island of St. Helena, right? Nope. That's the alternative history premise in the lighthearted THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES.Ian Holm, recently seen on the big screen as Bilbo Baggins in LORD OF THE RINGS, does double duty as Bonaparte and his look-alike, Eugene Lenormand. The latter is a swab jockey pulled off a passing merchant ship and secretly substituted for Bonaparte on St. Helena while the Emperor sets sail on the same vessel for France in the guise of the common sailor (with all his attendant duties). The plan is that, after enough time is allowed Napoleon to reach Paris, Lenormand will announce himself as a fraud to his British jailers, a revelation sure to make all the supermarket tabloids. Reading of this in Paris, the Emperor will emerge from the closet, so to speak, and retake his throne with the help of widespread popular support. The plan doesn't take into account that Eugene might enjoy his new existence in captivity. As he remarks to the French conspirators, he's been scrubbing ships' decks for all the years that Napoleon was Emperor, and now it's his turn to be pampered. So, in the meantime, the real Napoleon must cool his heels in Paris while staying in the home of the widow Truchaut (Iben Hjejle), alias "Pumpkin", who manages a cadre of street-roaming melon sellers. As luck would have it, Pumpkin's husband, who was one of the very few plotters privy to Napoleon's escape plan, died shortly before the Emperor's arrival. Oh, well.Holm is splendid in his dual role, and Hjejle is engaging as Pumpkin. However, the two together, especially Holm's Napoleon persona, never quite made this viewer believe that the pair had a future together no matter how much Pumpkin wanted it. Having said that, the film's lesson is that sometimes being content with less is a virtue that is its own reward. Bonaparte has this epiphany when, in one of the movie's best scenes, he's introduced to several other "Napoleons" by a physician friend of Pumpkin's. And Holm certainly looks the part, especially because of his relatively short stature. There's a scene, a sight gag in itself, where Bonaparte is hugged by a former member of his Imperial Guard, an old comrade-in-arms apparently over six feet tall, and the Emperor is almost smothered in the clothing at the man's waist. Also to the film's credit is the cinematography and special FX, which effectively depict early 19th century Paris.For me, the greatest flaw in this otherwise excellent film was the logic behind the storyline. Rather than leave control of events to the imposter left behind on St. Helena, Napoleon should have revealed himself to those he knew in Paris, some of whom would have certainly been of high social importance, and then, his identity established to their satisfaction, held a joint press conference with photo ops. (Even Pumpkin's doctor realized the true identity of her lodger for reasons I shall not reveal here.) That would have left the British to prove that their captive was not the real deal, a dodgy undertaking at best. However, such an approach by the scriptwriters would certainly have resulted in a film not nearly so much fun. Come to think of it, THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES is a gem best left like it is."
Charming "What If?" fantasy and love story for grown-ups.
R.L. Holly | Austin, TX USA | 12/31/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I found this a delightful movie and am sorry it had such a limited theatrical release (it only played one week in Austin and I was not able to see it at that time). Thanks be for the DVD, which is crystal clear and in widescreen, although there are no extras. I think your reaction to it might depend on your familiarity with (or sympathy to) Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French. Those more knowledgeable about his life and career will find more nuances to Ian Holm's characterization and more depth in the story. Others may find this film too slow or mystifying. For my part, and as an admitted sympathetic Bonapartist -- Napoleon was a great man in every sense of the word, with great failings as well as great skills and sometimes even virtues -- this film grows on me with every viewing and I keep finding more little gems of detail to treasure.

It's not the ha-ha comedy I initially expected, and perhaps the script could have used a few more humourous scenes, given the potential in the subject matter, but it would not be fair to criticize the movie for not being something it did not set out to be. Napoleon's chance visit to the battlefield of Waterloo, now catering to tourists, is comical in a typically low-key way. The pacing may be too leisurely to some, but this says more about our Hollywood-shaped sensibilities than what director Alan Taylor had in mind. This is not a cookie-cutter, by-the-numbers movie. It's a gentle slice of whimsy and romance made for an audience that can appreciate a movie with no car crashes, machine guns, or bimbos.

The central theme is transformation: can a man remake himself utterly, and in so doing, gain a second chance at happiness? Napoleon the Emperor (a masterful performance by Holm, who is a passable lookalike to the genuine article) begins this movie a very different man than who we see at the end, when Napoleon the Greengrocer "surrenders" at last to an opponent that has bested him -- the kind and good woman who prefers the reality of Eugene Lenormand to the phantom of Napoleon Bonaparte. It is a difficult journey for Napoleon/Eugene to make, and we follow the Emperor's struggle to tame his old ambitions and talents, occasionally harnessing them for a good cause -- his mustering and "battle orders" to the assembled fruit peddlers is a masterful sequence, the old Napoleon of Marengo and Austerlitz, history's greatest soldier, rising one last time to lead his forces to a brilliant victory. But finally, when he is tricked by an adversary into entering a madhouse, he is confronted with the monstrous reality of what he was -- a madman, a creature fit only to be locked up, even as Napoleon himself was caged on an island prison. It is the moment of realization for Napoleon/Eugene, when he recognizes that the desire to be a Napoleon is itself an act of lunacy. Confronted by the enormity of who he once was but need no longer be, he is at last able to make the break and cross over into a new life. He has no throne, but he is now content to rule a smaller kingdom, one with a joy and richness such as he could have never before attained. A thoroughly satisfying ending. L'Empereur est mort; vive l'Empereur!"
A very amusing film
Joanna Daneman | Middletown, DE USA | 01/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Hard to classify this one; romantic comedy? Farce? Maybe. Ian Holm plays a passably good Napoleon, who, tire of rusticating on St. Helena and wanting to regain his throne, concocts a scheme to dupe his British captors. Partway through the film, this plan is succeeding admirably, even when the plan is marred by a series of accidents. It's almost impossible to tell where "Emperor" is heading, and I don't want to spoil the surprises, so you will just have to take my word that this is a fine, fun, film and Ian Holm, as always, is a joy on screen. Music is by Rachel Portman ("Chocolat") and the direction is tight and intelligent by Alan Taylor. A lot of fun."