TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘The Barefoot Emperor’

TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘The Barefoot Emperor’

I’ll probably change my mind about this sequel to The King of the Belgians as I write this. But right now, directing duo Jessica Woodworth and Peter Brosens’ The Barefoot Emperor is on my good books.

This new film is about Nicolas III of Belgium (Peter Van den Begin), wanting to leave Croatia. He wants to go home, but an acting mishap – I can’t believe it’s a thing here – stop him.

This acting mishap gives Nicolas an injury, sending him to a residence that Josef Tito used to own. That residence is now a facility which is under the ownership of Dr. Otto Kroll (Udo Kier).

Kroll’s original intention was to make sure that Nicolas returns to the latter’s original physical and mental well being. But the injury causes the dissolution of Belgium as a country and a creation of Nova Europa.

Kroll, then, has to keep Nicolas under his guard, since Nicolas is now the Emperor of Nova Europa. This film then, is about Nicolas’ moral quandary of becoming an emperor to a possibly fascist, totalitarian state.

This film’s existence as a sequel isn’t necessarily a hindrance to enjoying this film, but I had reasons. Put this film under the ‘for the sake of quirkiness’ file, and its politics is, well, suspicious.

It’s also ironic that a film this convoluted has a message of, due to Nicolas’ wishes, political simplicity. But his objective to go back to a home, and whatever that means in politics, is still relate-able.

For more information on The Barefoot Emperor go to https://tiff.net/events/the-barefoot-emperor.

  • Release Date: 9/5/2019
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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