The Emperor's New Clothes

"Weak"

The Emperor's New Clothes Review


There is nothing wrong with fictionalizing history in the pursuit of creativity. Even documentaries, which supposedly capture "the truth," are put together by someone with a specific purpose in mind, to steer the audience towards a new perspective. So it's okay that The Emperor's New Clothes isn't attempting to unearth some new evidence on a historically enigmatic figure, as it even admits to hypothesizing what could have been for the sake of a touchy-feely portrait.

Sir Ian Holm stars as both the outrageous Napoleon and Eugene the impostor, who is put in his place of exile on St. Helena. While the real Napoleon is rediscovering how to be with normal people in Paris, opposite the lovely, recently-widowed Pumpkin (Iben Hjejle, High Fidelity), Eugene is enjoying the newfound wealth of food and beverage. Though the acting of these two fine veterans is spotless, what they are given to do comes off wooden, as if they were over-directed to punctuate a particular word or facial expression.

Maybe director Alan Taylor (Palookaville) has been directing too much television lately. He unfortunately chooses to pace Emperor (based on the book The Death of Napoleon) like an episodic soap opera, with a conflict and verbal resolution in every scene, not allowing for any chance of emotional buildup for the characters. This makes the Pumpkin-Napoleon romance impossible to fathom, because though he assists the villagers in a scheme to get out of poverty, Napoleon is not particularly imbued with enough charm that Pumpkin could conceivably initiate a relationship, especially over the sweetly responsive older friend Dr. Lambert (Tim McInnerny). For a respectfully independent woman, Pumpkin's choice and insistence on affection for the monarch is difficult to swallow.

The most powerful interaction in this romantic farce comes between Dr. Lambert and anyone who is in the room with him at the time. For whatever reason, these sections are intelligently underwritten to evoke more stimulation through stares and silences than the predictably cheesy dialogue found throughout the rest of the film.

Still, Emperor could be more tuned for a younger audience, one that can appreciate more blatantly dramatic characterizations and scenes that leave nothing to imagination. The adults are set up as role models of integrity and openness, willing to be a productive part of a larger community in the hopes that their lot will end up better. Children may also not care as much when scenery consists of a poorly painted background.

For all of its drawbacks, The Emperor's New Clothes is certainly an interesting experiment. It's human nature to think about the what-ifs of any given situation, to wonder what might have been, and at least Taylor was trying to give a scandalized figure a more positive ending. By concentrating more on the people involved, mannequins though they may be, instead of finite production details, you can appreciate the circumstances even if you don't really care about them.

Clothes (with Emperor), on stroll.



The Emperor's New Clothes

Facts and Figures

Run time: 107 mins

In Theaters: Friday 7th December 2001

Box Office USA: $0.5M

Distributed by: Paramount Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Fresh: 62 Rotten: 23

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Napoleon Bonaparte / Sergeant Eugene Lenormand, as Nicole 'Pumpkin' Truchaut, as Dr. Lambert, as Montholon

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.