"Breaking News - The Emperor’s New Clothes"

Video, Strasbourg, 2008, with Nathalie Georges, an ARTE TV production.

Hans Christian Andersen wrote "The Emperor’s New Clothes" over 170 years ago, a fairy tale which is now known the world over. It brings up the subjects of vanity, power, trickery, and manipulation of the truth.
The tale itself was in fact based on an even older version of the story in the "El Conde Lucanor" collection by Don Juan Manuel, from 1335.
I wondered what sort of effect the same story would have nowadays, retransmitted by the media. In complicity with ARTE, we attempted to see what that effect would be.

"We are interrupting the scheduled programmes with a news flash on important information concerning the Emperor. According to our correspondent in the capital, Hans Christian Andersen, the Emperor turned up at the annual parade stark naked. We are well aware of his passion for sumptuous clothes and flashy fashion. And yet he chose to come dressed like Adam. Only a single child in the crowd dared make a comment. Not a single other spectator at the parade reacted. The government should be publishing a press release in the next few hours to explain this incredible situation. Is this one of his Majesty’s novel extravagances or the latest fashion trend? We shall try to let you know more in the next news bulletin. Thank you for your attention."

"Nous interrompons nos programmes pour un flash spécial avec cette information importante concernant l’Empereur. Selon notre correspondant dans la capitale, Hans Christian Andersen, l’Empereur s’est présenté nu comme un ver au défilé annuel. On connaît sa passion pour les somptueux vêtements, pour la mode clinquante. Il est pourtant arrivé en tenue d’Adam. Dans la foule, seul un enfant a osé faire la remarque. Pas de réaction des autres spectateurs du défilé. Le gouvernement devrait publier un communiqué dans les heures qui viennent pour expliquer cette situation rocambolesque. Est-ce une nouvelle extravagance de sa Majesté ou la dernière tendance à la mode, nous essaierons de vous en dire plus dans le prochain journal. Merci de votre attention."

Text : Jakob Gautel and Nathalie Georges, a hommage to Hans Christian Andersen

For more information : jakob.gautel.net

© Jakob Gautel 2008

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