In London, the sideshow troupe of Doctor Parnassus promises the audience a journey to the "Imaginarium", an imaginary world commanded by the mind of Doctor Parnassus, where dreams come true. In the stories that Doctor Parnassus tells to his daughter Valentina, the midget Percy, and his assistant Anton, he claims to have lived for more than one thousand years; However, when he fell in love with a mortal woman, he made a deal with the devil (Mr. Nick), trading his immortality for youth. As part of the bargain, he promised his son or daughter to Mr. Nick on their sixteenth birthday. Valentina is now almost to the doomed age and Doctor Parnassus makes a new bet with Mr. Nick, whoever seduces five souls in the Imaginarium will have Valentina as a prize. Meanwhile the troupe rescues Tony, a young man that was hanged on a bridge by the Russians. Tony was chased until he finds and joins the group. Tony and Valentina fall in love with each other and the jealous Anton discovers that his ... Written by
RubyRed, Seattle, Washington USA
The film contains various references to the classic staging of Samuel Beckett's play 'Waiting For Godot' including Tom Waits' black suit and bowler hat and Jude Law dragging a rope noosed around his neck (as does Lucky in the play) See more »
At the temple bird feces lands on Mr. Nick's right shoulder. In the next shot, his jacket is clean. See more »
There are three cardinal rules, Mr. Nick. One, there is no black magic, only cheap tricks and... I forget the others.
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The main talking point surrounding The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is the fact that it is the last appearance of the late Heath Ledger, however, there is a lot more to talk about with this film. Ledger's performance is good, as one would expect, but he has done better and more iconic roles. The problem faced by his death occurring before filming completed is overcome easily and one would not necessarily know that Ledger had died just from the evidence of the film. There is a fitting tribute to him in the film, as Johnny Depp's version of Heath Ledger's character comments on how celebrities who died young will live on forever.
However, this film deserves to be discussed as a piece of work on its own. Like many of Terry Gilliam's films it is both complex and imaginative. The titular Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) operates a mostly unsuccessful travelling show where he hopes to send members of the public through a magic mirror into the Imaginarium where they will ultimately face a choice between giving their soul to Parnassus or the Devil (Tom Waits). Those two are having a contest for the soul of Valentina (Lily Cole), the Doctor's daughter. Helping the Doctor's show are the lovelorn Anton, the dwarf Percy and Tony a mysterious stranger who can draw punters.
Initially all these plot points work well. Doctor Parnassus is a desperate man who has almost given up hope, whilst the Devil is entertaining to watch, yet evidently devious. The heart of the film lies with Valentina who wants a normal life but is it unaware that it is far more complicated than just the raising of money. Unfortunately, the film runs into difficulty in the last third as the plot lines all come together and even more are added, creating a overly complex ending where nothing gets resolved properly.
The acting is good, with Lily Cole surprisingly impressive and old hands Christopher Plummer and Tom Waits leading by example. Terry Gilliam direction combines the fantastical and the ordinary in a way that only he can. It is the first time he has participated in the writing process for two decades and this film has an autobiographical feel as Doctor Parnassus tries to entice with stories and the imagination only to be met by cynical crowds. This effort to wow the public may not move them away from CGI and is short of his best, but it is still entertaining and favourable over films which lack charm, imagination and storytelling.
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