The Emperor's New Clothes (2002)



Critic Consensus: The premise of The Emperor's New Clothes is intriguing, and Holm gives a delightful performance.

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Movie Info

A fanciful retelling of the story of Napoleon Bonaparte (played by heralded actor Ian Holm, this British costume comedy suggests that it was Napoleon's double, not the man himself, who died on St. Helena Island. The film begins by presenting Napoleon after his defeat at Waterloo, at the home of a young boy (Tom Watson), where he watches a slide show of his actions and begins to tell his story. The film flashes back to Napoleon's six years of house arrest, when he dictated his memoirs to an aide (Murray Melvin). He has concocted a scheme with his sidekicks Montholon (Nigel Terry) and Bertrand (Hugh Bonneville) and a valet named Marchand (Eddie Marsan) to plant a double in his place so he can escape to Paris, where he can then reclaim his throne as emperor of France. Posing as a galley hand, Napoleon steals a ship, but mistakenly arrives in Belgium, where he must then make his way back to France by barge. When he finally arrives in Paris, he discovers his contact, Truchaut, has died, and he enlists the help of his widow Pumpkin (played by Mifune's Iben Hjelje). Unable to reveal his true identity, Napoleon kills time by using Pumpkin and other supporters to start a profitable business, and Pumpkin begins to find herself drawn to Napoleon, though knowing his real identity. The film was directed by American filmmaker Alan Taylor, who helmed the quirky 1995 comedy Palookaville.
PG (adult situations/language)
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
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Ian Holm
as Napoleon Bonaparte/Eugene Lenormand
Iben Hjejle
as Pumpkin
Tim McInnerny
as Dr. Lambert
Tom Watson
as Gerard
Nigel Terry
as Montholon
Hugh Bonneville
as Bertrand
Murray Melvin
as Antommarchi
Eddie Marsan
as Marchand
Clive Russell
as Bommel
Bob Mason
as Captain Nicholls
Chris Langham
as Maurice
Russell Dixon
as Dr. Quinton
George Harris
as Papa Nicholas
Hayley Carmichael
as Adele Raffin
Philip McGoaugh
as English Tourist
Tim Barlow
as Bargee
Tony Vogel
as British Sergeant
Russell Tovey
as Recruit
Ashley Artus
as Junior Orderly
Roger Frost
as Bookseller
Tom Hunsinger
as Customer
Matthew Sim
as Ticket Seller
Moya Brady
as Woman
Herve Ducroux
as Brest Contact
Sergio Ballo
as Truchaut
John McGlynn
as Policeman
Clive Mendus
as Senior Orderly
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Critic Reviews for The Emperor's New Clothes

All Critics (85) | Top Critics (29)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 12, 2009
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

August 9, 2002
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic

A delightful, if minor, pastry of a movie.

July 25, 2002
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Viewers are asked so often to suspend belief that were it not for Holm's performance, the film would be a total washout.

Full Review… | July 19, 2002
Miami Herald
Top Critic

It's a great big snore.

July 19, 2002
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Emperor's New Clothes

One of the best films about Napoleon, since it shows him at his best and worst. Ian Holm, who played him twice before, really shines here.

Sean Chick
Sean Chick

Good concept, poor execution, terrible score. Full of cliches, unnecessary set up, and all-too-obvious visual cues, this flick only thrives on Ian Holm's stateliness, and feels very tired and mediocre everywhere else (including the clearly cheap production design).

Trent Johnson
Trent Johnson

The movie is a bit slow but entertaining. It puts a little imagination into little (if any) historical background.

Jason Yangte Chen
Jason Yangte Chen

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