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The Emperor's New Clothes [VHS]

28 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ian Holm, Iben Hjejle, Tim McInnerny, Tom Watson, Nigel Terry
  • Directors: Alan Taylor
  • Writers: Alan Taylor, Kevin Molony, Herbie Wave, Simon Leys
  • Producers: Hanno Huth, James Wilson, Kevin Molony
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Paramount
  • VHS Release Date: April 8, 2003
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006RCSD
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,248 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By R.L. Holly on December 30, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I found this a delightful movie and am sorry it had such a limited theatrical release (it only played one week in Austin and I was not able to see it at that time). Thanks be for the DVD, which is crystal clear and in widescreen, although there are no extras. I think your reaction to it might depend on your familiarity with (or sympathy to) Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French. Those more knowledgeable about his life and career will find more nuances to Ian Holm's characterization and more depth in the story. Others may find this film too slow or mystifying. For my part, and as an admitted sympathetic Bonapartist -- Napoleon was a great man in every sense of the word, with great failings as well as great skills and sometimes even virtues -- this film grows on me with every viewing and I keep finding more little gems of detail to treasure.

It's not the ha-ha comedy I initially expected, and perhaps the script could have used a few more humorous scenes, given the potential in the subject matter, but it would not be fair to criticize the movie for not being something it did not set out to be. Napoleon's chance visit to the battlefield of Waterloo, now catering to tourists, is comical in a typically low-key way. The pacing may be too leisurely to some, but this says more about our Hollywood-shaped sensibilities than what director Alan Taylor had in mind. This is not a cookie-cutter, by-the-numbers movie. It's a gentle slice of whimsy and romance made for an audience that can appreciate a movie with no car crashes, machine guns, or bimbos.

The central theme is transformation: can a man remake himself utterly, and in so doing, gain a second chance at happiness?
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 17, 2002
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 30, 2006
Format: DVD
I put off watching "The Emperor's New Clothes" for a while because the cover art for the DVD made me think that this was going to be something of a silly comedy. We see Ian Holm as Napoleon Bonaparte, decked out in his standard military outfit, with the lipstick imprint of a kiss on his cheek. Consequently I was expecting something a bit zany, with Holm mugging for the camera and the usual sort of hilarity that goes on when people trade identities in movies. Boy, was I wrong.

The screenplay by director Alan Taylor (who directs a lot of series on HBO) and his co-writers Kevin Molony ("Sylvester") and Herbie Wave ("The Closer You Get") is based on the novel "The Death of Napoleon" by Simon Leys. The premise is deceptively simple: while exiled on the island of St. Helena, Napoleon switched places with Eugene Lenormand, a simple sailor who looked like the deposed Emperor of France. While Lenormand pretended to be Napoleon, the man himself would sail in Lenormand's place on the ship, return to France, contact loyal men who would get him to Paris, and take control of the nation once again from the Borbons. However, a couple of problems develop. The first is that Napoleon is deposited not in France, but Belgium, while the other is that Lenormand likes being Napoleon in exile and refuses to admit he is an imposter.

Napoleon makes his way by coach to Paris, and because he starts in Brussels he ends up at a stop in Waterloo, where the curious come to see the famous battlefield and buy mementoes of the Emperor's defeat. "They've changed my battlefield," Napoleon says, but that is not all that has changed since then.
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