How many children's films would have dialogue like "Father's in a concentration camp"? Emperor's real raison d'être, in any case, is its myriad fantasy sequences, sprung from the childish imagination of Toby (Jonathan Starr). In his daydreams he's a firefighter or astronaut whose heroic deeds are applauded by such bystanders as Napoleon Bonaparte. Amid the goofy, mostly innocuous proceedings are stray moments of unmistakable Arrabal — as when Rooney, in full Arabian Nights regalia, is surrounded at imperial court by dwarf attendants. (Arrabal has a thing for little people.)
The new collection also includes Car Cemetery, a 1983 New Wave "punk" pose fest with Gallic pop king Alain Bashing as a postapocalyptic rock star Christ (ouch indeed). Among other rarities are Arrabal's delightful hour-long 1992 video Farewell, Babylon!, a collage of past works, impish narrative, and sampled New Yorkers including Spike Lee and Melvin Van Peebles.