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Click for full sized poster

The Emperor's New Clothes

Starring Ian Holm, Iben Hjejle and Tim McInnerny
Screenplay by Kevin Molony, Alan Taylor and Herbie Wave
Based on the novel "The Death of Napoleon" by Simon Leys
Directed by Alan Taylor
website: Paramount Classics

IN SHORT: Holm as Napoleon. Worth the ticket price right there. [Rated PG due to Brief Language. 107 minutes]

And it came to pass at the End of his Days that the Emperor Napoleon of France didst escape imprisonment on the Isle of St. Helena and return to Paris, there to await the announcement of his escape and reclaim Stewardship of the Nation.

Ah, the best laid plans of mice-sized men -- and there's one very funny joke about Napoleon's diminutive stature in this film -- must go astray. If they don't there's no story worth watching. The Emperor's New Clothes is an entertaining "what if" story featuring our favorite Emperor impersonator, Ian Holm, in his third go round as the guy with the funny hat (Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits was first. The teevee miniseries Napoleon and Love followed). The story this time out involves a French Navy deckhand named Eugene (also Holm) who bears a remarkable resemblance to our hero and is swapped for le Fearless Leader on St. Helena. The plan is that, once Napoleon is safely back in France, Eugene will come out (so to speak) and forces loyal to Nappy would put strip the ex from in front of "Emperor".

Two things go wrong. Napoleon's ride home decides not to make its scheduled stop in France, which means Napoleon will have to make the trip home by land, including a very funny scene returning him to Waterloo, where history records his greatest defeat. Meanwhile on St. Helena, Eugene decides he likes being Emperor in exile. The clothing is top notch and the food is better than anything he got in the Navy. The real Napoleon is thus left stranded in Paris, rooming with a widow called Pumpkin (Iben Hjejle) and watched carefully by a doctor (Tim McInnerny) who may have discerned his true identity.

Unless, of course, the doctor has decided that this would be Napoleon is flat out bonkers. There's a place in France for the stark raving mad and that plays a part in this story, too. Overall, it's a pleasing bit of storytelling. Well acted and well told. We didn't walk out of our screening happily raving but we definitely enjoyed our time in the dark.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Emperor's New Clothes, he would have paid . . .


If your preference is for the arthouse, The Emperor's New Clothes is highly recommended. If not, somewhere down the line grab the video and curl up for a good sit.

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