The Emperor’s New Clothes

Poster for The Emperor’s New Clothes

Autumn 2002 Main series

Sunday, November 17, 2002 at 4:00pm
Sunday, November 17, 2002 at 7:00pm
Monday, November 18, 2002 at 7:00pm

Empire Theatres, New Minas, NS

Directed by


Rated PG · 1h 46m
United Kingdom

The Emperor’s New Clothes, Alan Taylor’s follow-up to his delightful debut, Palookaville, plays like a 19th-century take on Trading Places. Taking a fantastic, fable-like approach to the history of Napoleon Bonaparte, the film begins in 1821, when Napoleon supposedly lay in exile on the island of St. Helena. A secret network of Napoleonic loyalists hatch an ingenious plot to have the Emperor (Ian Holm, Lord of the Rings, The Sweet Hereafter) return to Paris while a double takes his place on the island. Switching identities with able-bodied seafarer Eugene Lenormand (Holm, in a double role), Napoleon sets out to reclaim his throne. But when the consequences of a crucial oversight foil the plan, the former Emperor finds himself in Paris, alone and with no assistance – until he meets and falls for a beautiful widow (Iben Hjejle, High Fidelity, Mifune) who offers new hope and a new path. Filmed with flair and invention, The Emperor’s New Clothes is distinguished by the same sweet-natured innocence and eccentric, offbeat tone of Taylor’s feature debut, while also boasting a great deal of the slick, narrative polish he exhibited directing episodes for “The Sopranos,” “Homicide,” “Sex and the City” and “The West Wing.” Filmed on location in Malta and Italy, the film is beautifully photographed by Italian cinematographer Alession Gelsini Torresi and benefits from Andrea Crisanti’s strong production design and Rachel Portman’s (Cider House Rules) majestic score. A light-hearted tale of fate and friendship, The Emperor’s New Clothes impresses with its strong central performances from a masterly Holm and a sweet, sensitive Hjelje.

“A surprisingly sweet and gentle comedy.” – Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

“A sumptuous showcase for Ian Holm, who delivers not one but two great performances.” – Loren King, The Chicago Tribune

“Evokes the 19th century with a subtlety that is an object lesson in period filmmaking.” – Maria Garcia, Film Journal International