The Emperor's New Clothes (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Emperor's New Clothes (2002)



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

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.

Watch it now


Ian Holm
as Napoleon Bonaparte/Eugene Lenormand
Iben Hjejle
as Pumpkin
Tim McInnerny
as Dr. Lambert
Tom Watson
as Gerard
Nigel Terry
as Montholon
Murray Melvin
as Antommarchi
Eddie Marsan
as Marchand
Bob Mason
as Captain Nicholls
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
Ashley Artus
as Junior Orderly
Roger Frost
as Bookseller
Tom Hunsinger
as Customer
Matthew Sim
as Ticket Seller
Herve Ducroux
as Brest Contact
Sergio Ballo
as Truchaut
John McGlynn
as Policeman
Clive Mendus
as Senior Orderly
View All

Critic Reviews for The Emperor's New Clothes

All Critics (85) | Top Critics (33)

Fails to ignite in the way a film -- even a comedy -- revolving around Napoleon should.

August 25, 2002 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

A delightful, if minor, pastry of a movie.

July 25, 2002 | Rating: 4/5

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

July 19, 2002 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

It's a great big snore.

July 19, 2002

Recent and long-standing fans of Holm must relish the chance to watch Sir Ian in a dual role, one that he explores with customary insight, subtlety and good humor.

July 19, 2002 | Rating: 3/4

[Holm] saves this film time and again with an eagle's gaze that puts you on alert, prompting you to sit up a little straighter in that theater seat.

July 19, 2002

Audience Reviews for The Emperor's New Clothes

[font=Century Gothic]"The Emperor's New Clothes" takes place in 1821 as Napoleon Bonaparte(Ian Holm) escapes from St. Helena after a six year exile, exchanging places with a look-a-like. The plan is for him to reach France by boat and the imposter to be revealed, allowing him to retake the throne. But the plan starts to go awry when the boat overshoots France, and he ends up in Belgium instead.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]"The Emperor's New Clothes" is not the broad comedy I was expecting(though there is a little of that here). It is actually a gentle and poignant bit of speculation about history, dreams of glory and the people trying to recapture them. Through this, the movie conveys a subtle antiwar message. And Ian Holm sets the right mood with a magnificent performance. Only the pedestrian direction hurts the movie. [/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

The Emperor's New Clothes Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features