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The Emperor's New Clothes
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Emperor's New Clothes More at IMDbPro »

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21 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

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

Author: John DeSando (jdesando@columbus.rr.com) from Columbus, Ohio
12 July 2002

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.



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17 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A forgotten gem

7/10
Author: rebeljenn from Bath, England
16 November 2005

I watched the first screening of 'The Emperor's New Clothes' at the London Film Festival. The film seemed to disappear from the public eye after that, even though I personally thought that it was a good film.

In summary, this film is about Napoleon who wants to get his lost power back, and he pretends he is a peasant in order to eventually rise up and seize it. During this time, he meets a woman he falls in love with. The film explores how his life evolves over the longing of love and power, and there is the realization that he cannot achieve both.

This film is moving and witty. One of the most memorable scenes was when Napoleon tries to convince others that he is Napoleon, but he is not believed, and they take him to an asylum where there are many others there that believe that they are Napoleon.

I was surprised that this film did not get respected; it is a forgotten gem.

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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding!

10/10
Author: skleid6 from United States
26 July 2005

This is a carefully crafted, beautifully acted "what if" story about Napoleon Bonaparte. It is literate, inventive, and has a beautiful music score to boot. The female lead, Iben Hjejle, is a revelation! I wish she would make more films outside of Denmark.

The story centers around Napoleon's exile after Waterloo, and a plot to have him escape (using a double), return to France to raise an army and regain his throne. But something unforeseen happens along the way, when his double, back on St. Helena, decides he is enjoying being Emperor Napoleon too much to give it up. That leaves the real Emperor Napoleon, secretly back in Paris, with a problem: nobody believes he is who he says he is...

Let's not reveal any more of the plot in this outstanding film (provided you can enjoy a movie with no nudity and cursing, and virtually no violence).

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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

The true story of Napoleon Bonaparte's final days

7/10
Author: George Parker from Orange County, CA USA
14 December 2002

"The Emporer's New Clothes" is a revisionist historical romantic comedy which tells of Napoleon Bonaparte's escape from exile on St. Helena and return to France to reclaim his throne. Traveling incognito, Bonaparte (Holm) hooks up with a comely widow Pumpkin (Hjejle) who takes some of the starch out of the "Little Corporal's" skivvies while setting his crusty old heart aglow. A charming period piece with exotic locations, this film pairs a tour de force by Holm with an all too rare performance by versatile beauty (Hjejle) in a happy mix of drama, subtle comedy, and light hearted romance. (B)

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Vastly entertaining and thoughtful whimsy...Ian Holm once again demonstrates his range...being both hilarious and hauntingly human.

7/10
Author: martin lane (martylee13045burlsink342@yahoo.com) from Cortland Ny
29 July 2002

Magical arthouse gem (released here on Paramount's "Classic" label) which deserves a wider release...and rescue from the curse of small theater presentation...(I saw it improperley masked on a tiny screen which appeared to have a very vociferous nest of fledglings behind it...and the film still glowed...my first raves have to be for the superb photography and inspired digital wizardy which made the audience's journey back to 1821 so enchantingly real). Very clever and charming script manages to manipulate the myths, legends, and cliches surrounding Historys favorite mini meglomaniac and find a spark of humanity missing from most movie representations (except for Abel Gance's masterpiece...which is beautifully saluted in this movie's final snowy scene). Ian Holm sinks into the role of the exciled emperor and the burlesque turn of the galley swabber recruited to impersonate him with equal aplomp...(to be honest I would have relished a bit more of the impersonators delicious descent into debauchery). Excellent supporting performances, beautiful score, and unique unsentimental portrait of the period (with unvarnished representations of 1820's undertaking, hygine, and nontreatment of mental illness). A film to treasure if just for the gentle subtlety of it's central romance...including a tryst on a rooftop overlooking Paris during a thunderstorm which ranks as one of the loveliest shots in years. A sweet smart little gem which belongs in the collection of every cinema connosuire

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Great, touching fun

Author: landgazer from USA
17 July 2002

A big measure of how I rate a movie comes from how I feel at the end of it. I was feeling really good after this one.

Quick plot outline: Napoleon (an awesome Ian Holm) is exiled on the isle of St. Helena, but someone has been found who looks exactly like him. So he has concocted a simple plan: have him and the look-alike switch places, and then after Napoleon arrives in Paris, have the fake announce to the world that he is a fraud, in essence telling the world Napoleon has escaped and therefore paving the way for Napoleon to return to the throne. But the plan doesn't go as predicted: the ship Napoleon travels on sails by France for one, and the fraud is not quick to give up his oh-so dreary exile. When Napoleon does arrive in Paris, as per the plan, he stays with Madame Truchaut, the wife (Iben Hjejle) of a now deceased soldier who had started a fruit-selling business after his military career had ended. Napoleon and Madame Truchaut get to know each other and her kindness begins to chip away at his hardened heart. Needless to say while this is happening, the fake is not quick to tell to the world he is an impostor as he's been cleaning the poop decks of Napoleon's ships for years. And the real Napoleon begins to see the real cost that his reign cost France.

The basic story is not new but it is done really well. Ian Holm is a VERY believable Napoleon, always walking like a soldier, talking in a straight and curt manner, and in general giving the impression he was born in a war room. He's also quite funny as Eugene Lenormand, the fake who's playing Napoleon. The film could have easily been a flop - mixing a love story with Napoleon is obviously a sticky wicket. But it doesn't get too serious for it's own good, or too funny. It's a great mix. The film doesn't spend too much time on the fake, which it easily could have for laughs. The story is about the real Napoleon, and it stays focused. There is also a great scene where a rival for Madame Truchaut's affections, a doctor (an unctuous Tim McInnerny), tricks Napoleon into coming to a mental institution, where Napoleon sees a whole bunch of crazies pretending to be him. He looks at himself: is this the legacy he left France? Is he looking at himself and not liking what he sees? It's a cool scene. It makes it all the more powerful as the doctor knows his identity, and seems to get a twisted yet humbling satisfaction from humiliating and defeating the great Napoleon, not to mention freeing up Madame Truchaut for himself.

But I was still smiling a lot through the movie, and that's something I don't find a lot these days. Maybe you will too. Highly recommended.

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful flick!

Author: TimeTrvlr03 from Boulder, Colorado
20 December 2002

This movie was outstanding! A neat little conspiracy theory about the true last years of Napoleon Bonaparte. Ian Holm is fantastic as both Napoleon and Lenormand. The military strategy of watermelons is hilarious. If you missed this in the the theaters, you've got to rent it! 10/10!

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A story of whimsy and the betrayal of fate.

8/10
Author: tnhelliott from United States
21 March 2006

First off I need to say that Ian Hom is amazing. To be able to play two different characters of two different persuasions and bearings is mind-blowing. This film is whimsical and fun and a very good "what if" of history. Parts of it are sad and parts are humorous and all of it is good. A human element is given to characters whom are known to history solely for their deeds and every character in the film has depth of field and a real personality. Many of the scenes are played out in textbook fashion with a beginning a middle and an end with rising and falling action and yet each scene propels the story line further and is a driving force to the film as a whole. My personal favorite moment in the film is the melon scene where Naploean as an exile in his own country still becomes a general of a an army of melon merchants. Sheer brilliance and very beautiful in its humanity. This film shows that although a person can't change whop they are, everyone can change direction and find love.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding!!

10/10
Author: Cyndie from USA
10 January 2003

I probably would not have seen this movie if not for the rave reviews I read here. There were so many positive comments, it seemed I couldn't go wrong. You were all correct.

Thanks to everyone who reviewed this film. It was absolutely superb! The characters and story line were very good. It could have happened the way it was shown.

A wonderful, warm, charming, funny film. Don't miss this one. I gave it a 10/10.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Run to see this film

10/10
Author: asdalin from Edison, NJ
6 March 2002

I had the pleasure of seeing The Emperor's New Clothes. What a treat. The story was delightful, the cast sublime, the cinematography glorious, and the soundtrack one I would like to purchase...so, you can tell I loved everything about the film. The story is a lovely fairy tale and the best I've seen since the "Princess Bride."

Ian Holm plays Napoleon and is perfect, as are all his co-stars. There is so much I'd like to say about the film, but I don't want to give anything away since the film won't be out until later this Spring.

Run out to see this film if you crave a feel good movie that's intelligent, not sappy, and simply fun to watch. I have not been this satisfied with the ending of a film in ages. We talked about the film all the way home. By the way, the entire audience gave it a solid round of applause as the lights came up. That should say it all.

I sense some Oscar nods for this film in 2003. It's a hit.

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