Synopsis by Jason Clark
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.
business, emperor, escape, identity, lookalike, prison, widow/widower