The Emperor's New Clothes (2001)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  7 December 2001 (Italy)
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During Napoleon's exile on St. Helena, some loyalists hire a look-alike to swap places with the deposed emperor: while the impostor lives in luxury on the island, the real Napoleon returns to Paris in order to retake the throne.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Napoleon Bonaparte / Sergeant Eugene Lenormand
Nicole 'Pumpkin' Truchaut
Dr. Lambert
Tom Watson ...
Louis Marchand
Sergeant Justin Bommel
Bob Mason ...
Captain Nicholls
Trevor Cooper ...
Russell Dixon ...
Dr. Quinton
Papa Nicholas
Niall O'Brien ...


Napoleon, exiled, devises a plan to retake the throne. He'll swap places with commoner Eugene Lenormand, sneak into Paris, then Lenormand will reveal himself and Napoleon will regain his throne. Things don't go at all well; first, the journey proves more difficult than expected, but more disastrously, Lenormand enjoys himself too much to reveal the deception. Napoleon adjusts somewhat uneasily to the life of a commoner while waiting, while Lenormand gorges on rich food. Written by Jon Reeves <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The world's most powerful man is about to fight his greatest battle... between love and glory.


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for brief language | See all certifications »



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Release Date:

7 December 2001 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Las nuevas ropas del emperador  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$7,474 (USA) (14 June 2002)


$569,435 (USA) (4 October 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ian Holm also played Napoleon in Time Bandits (1981). See more »


[first lines]
Napoleon Bonaparte: No, that's not it. That's not right. Let me tell you what really happened...
See more »


Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

This is good old-fashioned romance, history, and fiction all in one small but unforgettable film, a bit like the subject himself.
12 July 2002 | by (Columbus, Ohio) – See all my reviews

In 1821, on St. Helena, Napoleon loyalists switch the emperor with a look-alike ship hand and send the little tyrant secretly off to Paris to revive the Old Order. I love improbable movies like `The Emperor's New Clothes,' especially the docudramas that feed our lust to know the insides of great figures.

You may not know Ian Holm's Napoleon that well because Holm concentrates more on the mannerisms than the script. Yet the best lines are good, such as when the emperor, disguised as a seaman, boards a ship and says, "A position above decks would have been more appropriate.' Or when his love interest, Pumpkin, responds after he tells her his true identity: "You're not Napoleon! I hate Napoleon! He has filled France with widows and orphans! He took my husband. I won't let him take you." There are truths there to make a revolution.

Our hero tries his hand at selling melons, marshalling his crew with his great leadership rhetoric, and wins the love of Pumpkin, her son, and himself after 6 years of humiliating, loveless exile.

When the film opens with the young son showing colored slides of the emperor's life on a primitive projector, you can feel the romance and the warmth for the rest of the film. When you wake with Napoleon on ship to see a stunning sunrise, you know Alessio Gelsini Torresi is a cinematographer worth watching.

This sweet film, softly extolling the grandeur of simple love, takes it final cue from Candide, where that weary traveler laid his weary heart in his garden. This Napoleon had said, "I place my trust in only two things: my will and the love of the people of France." He finds now a redemptive will to survive and, without egotism or violence, a love of one person to satisfy an empire.

This is good old-fashioned romance, history, and fiction all in one small but unforgettable film, a bit like the subject himself.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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