The Emperors New Clothes
“The Emperor’s New Clothes” is described as “a re-imagining of the last days of Napoleon Bonaparte.” It starts with the premise that the historical account of Napoleon’s death is not accurate, and proceeds to tell a re-imagined version of his last days.
Starting with his exile on the Mediterranean island of St. Helena, the story follows his escape and long trek to Paris. However, to avoid being pursued, Napoleon (Ian Holm) leaves behind a commoner named Eugene Lenormand (also Ian Holm) who looks like him and will pretend to be the Emperor. The plan calls for Eugene to reveal his true identity after Napoleon arrives in Paris and the French people restore him as the leader of France. But even best laid plans go awry and Napoleon must decide what to do next. However, Pumpkin (Iben Hjejle), an attractive widow, befriends the monarch and invites him not only to share her home but also her bed. How all these events come to conclusion make for an intriguing, suspenseful and sometimes comical story.
Refreshingly, the film has only a few minor questionable elements and maintains an elegance and charm throughout. Although an affair is implied between Pumpkin and Napoleon, no sexual encounters are shown. However, in one scene, a man reads some suggestive passages out loud to his friends from Napoleon’s memoirs. Only two instances of mildly questionable language are present and Napoleon is portrayed as a gentleman, although sometimes eccentric. Discriminating movie-goers will most likely be pleased with this refined, historical comedy-drama.