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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple contentment is sometimes its own reward, 10 Aug 2006
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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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.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the wildwind, 18 Feb 2011
This review is from: The Emperor's New Clothes [DVD] (DVD)
Best of British film making. Ian Holm at his best. Loved it! Recommend to anyone with a romantic historical streak! Great Sunday afternoon film!!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another take on history, 7 April 2011
By 
Rosemary Wilson (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Emperor's New Clothes [DVD] (DVD)
I had seen the end of this film on TV and went looking for the DVD to see what had led to the ending I saw. The film is well worth watching, with great settings and excellent acting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great storyline and some true gems in this film, 31 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Emperor's New Clothes [DVD] (DVD)
A great storyline and some true gems in this film. Irreverent in parts, humorous and semi tragic, Sir Ian Holm is just superb and generates great empathy
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great what if story, 1 Aug 2013
By 
N. KEMPTON "ladykempton" (uk london) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Emperor's New Clothes [DVD] (DVD)
This is a wonderful story of what if's and second chances.
What if Napoleon did not die on st helena what if he had a double who replaced him to allow him to escape to France.
I first watched this film while I was in hospital last year and I LOVED IT I then spent the next few months looking for it off and on until I found it here and enjoyed it all over again.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great acting superb settings and music, 7 Mar 2011
By 
Peter Wade (Colchester England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Emperor's New Clothes [DVD] (DVD)
I don't normally bother with films like this as I find them too clever.

It is a what if story. Napoleon is exiled to St Helena and a plan is hatched to have him replaced by a nobody. It is handy that Ian Holm was available as Napoleon and even more handy that he was also available to play his double. This got over the problem of his British captors not knowing that he has been substituted.

He makes his way back to France and is unrecongised but finds love. The scenes in Paris are well filmed as obviously Paris doesn't look like that anymore.

There is an interesting scene when he uses to organisational ability to galvanise all the melon sellers like a military campaign to make a lot of money. We see the old Napoleon with his maps and stragetic thinking.

He tells his new partner Pumpkin who he is but she doesn't believe.

When he tells a doctor who he is he takes him to lunatic asylum and he sees what happens to people who claim to be Napoloen. I tHought that was a very clever scene.

I won't give away the ending. It was the ending that concerned me as it could have a fiasco of the whole story but it wAs well done.

All in all an underrated gem that I had not heard of before. Desrves a lot more publicity as Ian Holm is a geat actor and he did it well.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and poignant film, 17 April 2012
By 
G. T. Coulton "Gus" (Mirambeau, France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Emperor's New Clothes [DVD] (DVD)
Ian Holm reprises his role as Napoleon - previously the only good scene in Time Bandits - in a charming film, around the 'what if' scenario of Napoleon managing to escape from St Helena.

I saw it on TV some time ago when the film had a far better edit, it surprises me that the DVD should cut short a couple of important moments, (which is why I only gave it four stars).

The Paris townscape and mainly drab coloured costumes are spot on. The film is a good companion to Ridley Scott's The Duelists.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More whimsical than biting, but extremely likeable, 12 Mar 2012
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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The Emperor's New Clothes got lost in the shuffle when FilmFour went to the wall, sitting on the shelf for a couple of years before a negligible release. Like the film itself, the premise had been around for years - Winston Churchill once pitched a variation to Charlie Chaplin - although it took decades to reach the screen: Napoleon never actually died on St Helena but escaped, leaving a double behind. Unfortunately the Emperor's plans to return to power were rather cut short by the double being unwilling to give up his cushy life on the island and own up to his true identity, and then compounding his sin by keeling over and dying, leaving the real Napoleon adrift in a Paris where nobody believes him and the asylums are full of people who think they're Napoleon.

Alan Taylor's film never quite makes enough of its premise and the last act is a little scruffy around the edges as Ian Holm's little Emperor finds himself settling down with Iben Hjejle's widowed fruit seller, planning her street sales campaign with military precision, but it's a pleasing little number that gets by on wistful charm rather than biting satire. It never quite comes to grips with France's divided attitude to Napoleon's legacy - part dictator, part liberator - although it takes some nice digs at the post-Napoleonic tourist trade as Waterloo becomes a tourist trap filled with souvenir sellers and inns where Napoleon slept ("I've never set foot in this place in my life," notes Napoleon before dozing off on a bed under a `Napoleon slept here' sign). Extremely likeable, with a rather splendid score by Rachel Portman the icing on the cake.

Paramount's US Region 1 NTSC DVD offers no extras, so you're better off seeking out FilmFour's UK PAL DVD which includes a brief featurette, trailer, cast interviews and raw behind the scenes footage.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Emperor's New Clothes, 3 Mar 2012
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This review is from: The Emperor's New Clothes [DVD] (DVD)
This is a beautiful film. Post-Napoleonic Paris is recreated with lovely buildings, clothing, children, furniture, wood burners and candles.

Oh for a fortnight's holiday there.

The contrast between the real ex-emperor living incognito in France, while his absurd double lords it over staff in exile far away on St Helena, engenders both comedy and a strange sense of yearning.

When he first arrives in Paris, Napoleon is angrily determined to regain his throne, but then a developing and reciprocated attraction towards an impoverished but alluring young widow begins to nudge out his ambition for more military glory.

One of the joys of the film is the gentle portrayal of the former grand strategist beginning to see that this newfound tranquility and his ever closer union with 'Pumpkin' and the boy she cares for, possess a value far higher than any successful return to power with its likely cost in renewed warfare.

The acting in this fictional tale is just perfect and the underlying morality of the storyline makes it an experience genuinely to treasure.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gem of a film!, 4 Sep 2011
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This review is from: The Emperor's New Clothes [DVD] (DVD)
This little film is an absolute deliight! I saw it half way through on more four TV and wanted to see it all the way through so was delighted to find it here. It's a "What if?" story of Napoleon. He doesn't die in exile but is smuggled back to France to try and regain his Emporer's throne. It doesn't quite work that way! Ian Holm is just wonderful as Napoleon and his "double" Eugene Lenormande. This is just a really good fun adventure with some good humour (Waterloo as a tourist attraction - this DID actually happen. I recommend the following a) buy this film, b)buy a big bar of chocolate or bottle of wine and c)watch it on rainy Sunday afternoon. If you like historical based costume romps you'll enjoy this film very much!
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The Emperor's New Clothes [DVD]
The Emperor's New Clothes [DVD] by Alan Taylor (DVD - 2009)
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