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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Masterprint
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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus


The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus PosterRelease Date: December 25, 2009 (NY, LA; expansion: January 8)
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Terry Gilliam
Screenwriter: Terry Gilliam, Charles McKeown
Starring: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield, Verne Troyer, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking)
Official Website: SonyClassics.com/TheImaginariumofDoctorParnassus

"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" is a fantastical morality tale, set in the present day. It tells the story of Dr Parnassus and his extraordinary 'Imaginarium', a traveling show where members of the audience get an irresistible opportunity to choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom. Blessed with the extraordinary gift of guiding the imaginations of others, Dr Parnassus is cursed with a dark secret. Long ago he made a bet with the devil, Mr Nick, in which he won immortality. Many centuries later, on meeting his one true love, Dr Parnassus made another deal with the devil, trading his immortality for youth, on condition that when his first-born reached its 16th birthday he or she would become the property of Mr Nick.

Valentina is now rapidly approaching this 'coming of age' milestone and Dr Parnassus is desperate to protect her from her impending fate. Mr Nick arrives to collect but, always keen to make a bet, renegotiates the wager. Now the winner of Valentina will be determined by whoever seduces the first five souls. Enlisting a series of wild, comical and compelling characters in his journey, Dr Parnassus promises his daughter's hand in marriage to the man that helps him win. In this captivating, explosive and wonderfully imaginative race against time, Dr Parnassus must fight to save his daughter in a never-ending landscape of surreal obstacles - and undo the mistakes of his past once and for all.

 

Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers Copyright 2009

How does "The Imaganarium of Dr Paranassus" get over the problem of having four stars play the same character? Director/Producer Terry Gilliam integrates them into his film's fabric to a fault; the character the late Heath Ledger was fitted to play appears a little disjointed for ware.

The gracious appearances of Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law after Ledger leaves only one way of making the same character appear seamless, no matter how awful it looks.

What happens to the immortal Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) when he's been around the earth for centuries after he made an exchange for his soul with Mr. Nick (Tom Waits), a Devil may-care, and lost his mortality cursed to become a wanderer forever around the earth?

He's now in London, where most of the action takes place - although the time is blurred between modern and Victorian-esque - and leading a poverty-stricken traveling circus cum theater that boasts a route to an imaginary world.

Along with his daughter (Lilly Cole), Paranassus is replete with a stagecoach and a unique illusionary device that takes those who so desire. It promises enchantment and it delivers.

The sinisterly presence of Mr Nick (Tom Waits) is mostly amusing with his regular sly taunts at the bedeviled Parnassus, such as in an elevated Buddhist monastery, while the plot gets thicker with the entrance of a mysterious young man, Tony, who's picked up by the circus, but he's not to be trusted.

Played by Ledger, he's going through the motions and his charisma is strained. Depp, Farrell and Law replace the mishap of Ledger's absence mid-way through although they flow-on from Ledger's lack of spark.

The second half's outlandish visual jokes, sense of color and set-piece injects the expected life into the first half's establishing the likability of the entertainers with scene after scene of their personable relations.

There's no getting over the timing of Ledger's death. Ironically, it works with four actors when it accentuates the unfolding social (read: consumerist) and religious satire, undoubtedly the wittiest, wisest part, which includes the most moving scene in the movie, where Paranassus under extreme pressure intercedes for his, and the world's, predicament. People are duped into consuming whatever they desire because it promises a return but at the expense of their soul.

The general idea is cleverly and affably interwoven.

Trailer:

DVD Spotlight

  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
  • DVD Release Date: April 27, 2010
  • Run Time: 123 minutes


    Special Features

    Commentary with Director Terry Gilliam
    Introduction by Terry Gilliam
    Deleted Scene with Optional Commentary by Terry Gilliam
    Behind the Mirror
    Building the Monastery
    Heath Ledger Wardrobe Test with Optional Commentary by Terry Gilliam
    Interview with Heath Ledger
    Doctor Parnassus Around the World
    Cast & Crew Presentation on Stage
    The Artwork of Doctor Parnassus

    Are you ever in the mood for something fresh and original? Are you tired of all the safe movies designed for the masses? Well, take a trip through the mirror of Doctor Parnassus. Terry Gilliam is a love him or hate him type of director, but for some reason I'm more of in the middle. I like half or so of his films and just don't get the appeal of the others. In this case, I loved just about every second of it....more
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