A historical conspiracy thriller set on St Helena during Napoleon's exile. As well as the battle of wills between Napoleon and the island governor, the film examines the motives of those who chose to share their Emperor's exile.
As speculative as The Emperor's New Clothes, but far more inventive and serious-minded, this is an historical conspiracy thriller to rank alongside Josephine Tey's Richard III novel, The Daughter Of Time. What makes it all the more unexpectedly impressive is the fact that it was directed with such mischievous gravitas by Eurotrash's Antoine de Caunes.
Flashing back from the translation of Napoleon's corpse to Les Invalides, the film condenses Bonaparte's stay on St. Helena into a few key confrontations and evasions.
But rather than simply focusing on the battle of wills between Philippe Torreton and island governor Richard E. Grant, the screenplay also examines the motives of those who shared the deposed Emperor's exile - thus allowing de Caunes to flit enticingly between mystery, romance and intrigue.
Handsomely designed and photographed, impeccably played, and both satisfyingly complex and ingeniously plausible.
Reviewed by David Parkinson