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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

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A traveling theater company gives its audience much more than they were expecting.


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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Riddell ...
Martin's Girlfriend
Lorraine Cheshire ...
Lewis Gott ...
Sian Scott ...
Simon Day ...
Uncle Bob (as Simon Daye)
Moya Brady ...


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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The man who tried to cheat the devil.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

8 January 2010 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El imaginario mundo del Doctor Parnassus  »

Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£905,786 (UK) (16 October 2009)


$7,689,458 (USA) (21 May 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Tony's cell phone rings, the ring tone is "We Are the Children of the World," a song which is repeated at the end of the film, sung by a children's choir. See more »


When Dr. Parnassus is following Valentina through the concourse two young school girls in uniform pass him. Moments later when he's outside looking in the window, the same two girls can be seen entering the library. See more »


Dr. Parnassus: There are three cardinal rules, Mr. Nick. One, there is no black magic, only cheap tricks and... I forget the others.
See more »

Crazy Credits

A gold star for behaviour far beyond the call of duty: Ray Cooper See more »


References Mary Poppins (1964) See more »


I'm A Little Teapot
Written by Clarence Kelley & George Sanders
Copyright © 1939, renewed 1967, Marilyn Sanders Music LLC
All rights reserved
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
10 November 2009 | by See all my reviews

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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