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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus‎, 2009 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on October 19, 2009


Director: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield, Heath Ledger, Verne Troyer, Tom Waits, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell

Score: 7 / 10

This review by me.

First things first. With this film there is an elephant in the room and let us get that out the way shall we.

Heath Ledger passed away during the making of this film so sadly this was his last film. He was great as The Joker in The Dark Knight. He was not so good in this as a character called Tony. I am not saying he was bad, he just seemed to be coasting in it. I would go so far as to say that Heath was the weakest link in the cast (well after Verne Troyer) and the fact his accent comes and goes doesn’t help the proceedings, but he does a perfectly acceptable job. Plus, despite what you may have read, this is not Heath Ledger’s film. This is Terry Gilliam’s through and through.

Like all of his films the main characters seem to exist in their own bubble of bizarreness slightly askew from the real world. In this case the real world is London and its environs. Into that world we see a strange horse drawn cart (a fantastic vehicle full of nooks and crannies) that carries the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), his daughter Valentina (Lily Cole), Percy (Verne Troyer) and Anton (a brilliant Andrew Garfield) who is in love with Valentina.

In these first few scenes with the family / troupe all of the actors are fantastic including the model Lily Cole. They all do what they are supposed to do and inhabit their characters so well you are soon drawn into their life, squabbles and dramas as they play to people in back alleys, Homebase car parks and ruined warehouses.

We soon learn that Parnassus made a deal with the Devil or Mr Nick (Tom Waits) for immortality and youth but there was a price. It is this price that is the plot for the film as they make another deal to get out of it.

Plummer and Waits are great together. You get a sense that over the centuries they have become almost wary friends as they are the one constant they have. You see how they first met and I would have loved to have seen more of their interactions throughout the years. Mr Nick is an excellent version of the Devil. Whenever he is around you hear the buzzing of flies and Tom Waits’ gravel toned voice suits him down to the ground (I’ve just remembered he played Renfield in Coppola’s Dracula so the fly thing is mildly ironic). I also loved his reaction when….oh I’ll leave that part out.

On their journey Dr Parnassus and co find Tony (Ledger) hanging by the neck under a bridge on the Thames. They save him, but his memory is lost and we find out bits and bobs as the film progresses.

He also falls for Valentina so conflict ensues between Tony and Anton. I really must say how good Andrew Garfield (Anton) is as Anton. You really feel for the guy as he tries to keep things they same as everything changes. Lily Cole is also a revelation. I always thought she was the ginger haired model with the really young looking face, but she sure can act and looks so much better moving around then in a photograph. Like any child coming of age she wants to spread her wings and get away, but she is stuck in a position and doesn’t realise just how perilous it can be.

Then of course we have the Imaginarium itself. This is what people enter and their imagination shapes it until they are either purified by the good Doctor or taken by Mr Nick depending upon what choices they make.

It is here that Terry Gilliam’s imagination truly takes flight. Like his animated creations from the Monty Python days he basically just goes to town and the CGI fits rather well. From forests full of beer cans, cities made of sweets, endless deserts and infinitely high mountains we get some stunning imagery. We also get a very pythonesque musical number involving policemen and a Zardoz style Parnassus head.

During the film Tony enters the Imaginarium on three occasions and on each occasion we see a different aspect of his personality and learn a bit more of his past. As you no doubt know these scenes where filmed after Heath Ledger had passed away so Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped in.

To be honest it works wonderfully and I feel it is a lot better this way than if Ledger had filmed those scenes. All three of the alternate Tony’s are brilliant with Depp being my favourite, but also having the shortest screen time of the three. In fact I would probably have preferred to see Depp play Tony throughout the film as it almost felt that Ledger was channelling Depp in a few scenes, a slight Jack Sparrow feel to his delivery. That could just be me though.

I do feel that Christopher Plummer is the true star of the film. He is a fantastic actor and the panic, terror, joy and knowledge he brings throughout the film are great. He is a legend.

The main trouble with the film, expecially in the first third, is that I felt my concentration going now and again. Little things kept pulling me out such as seeing the singer Paloma Faith or that bloke from the bank adverts, but that will be because there are lots of English actors in it from the TV so it was bound to happen. However, the main story is told in bits and pieces at the start. That’s usually a good thing as I hate it when you are told everything without having to think, but it could have done with being a little tighter and I think 10 or 15 minutes could have been shaved off the running time.

All in all I enjoyed it and it is always great to see a Gilliam movie with all that Gilliam flights of fancy. Just don’t go and see it to see Heath Ledgers last film. That’s no reason to see it. Go to watch it for the strangeness, the weirdness and quality acting from all of the cast.

Of course everything I have just seen could all be the senile ramblings of an old man wandering the streets of London who thinks he is Doctor Parnassus and Percy is his Jiminy Cricket.

I went to see it with Jinja, Andy M and Del who scored it as follows:

Jinja – 5 / 10
Andy M – 5.5 / 10
Del – 7 /10

Have you seen it? What did you think of it?

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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – New French Poster

Posted by LiveFor on October 18, 2009


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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Featurette – Behind the Mirror

Posted by LiveFor on October 16, 2009

A behind the scenes look at The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus where the cast of the film talk about the characters they play.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

From the excellent Trailer Addict

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The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus – New Poster

Posted by LiveFor on October 15, 2009

Source: /Film

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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Excellent Spanish Poster for Terry Gilliam’s new film

Posted by LiveFor on September 16, 2009


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Verne Troyer – How cool?

Posted by LiveFor on May 24, 2009

Verne Troyer (a.k.a. “Mini-me” in the Austin Powers films) at Thursday’s AMFAR benefit bash in Cannes. He’s starring in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Source: Hollywood Elsewhere

Discuss in the forum or leave a comment below.


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New photos from The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Posted by LiveFor on May 21, 2009

Check out these new photos from Terry Gilliam’s new film. It just looks better and better. They show Heath Ledger as Tony, Christopher Plummer as Dr. Parnassus, Lily Cole as his daughter Valentina, Verne Troyer as his sidekick Percy, and Tom Waits as the Devil himself, Mr. Nick.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a modern-day fantasy adventure in which Dr. Parnassus has the extraordinary gift of inspiring the imaginations of others. Helped by his traveling theatre troupe, including his sarcastic and cynical sidekick Percy and versatile young Anton, Parnassus offers audience members the chance to transcend mundane reality by passing through a magical mirror into a fantastic universe of limitless imagination. However, Parnassus’ magic comes at a price. For centuries he’s been gambling with the devil, who is coming to collect his prize – Parnassus’ precious daughter, Valentina on her birthday.

Looks like it’s going to be brilliant.

Source: First Showing

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The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus – Photos from Terry Gilliam’s new film

Posted by LiveFor on May 7, 2009

Terry Gilliam is one of those true visionary people who only come along once in a blue moon. Even if you don’t like the story he is telling your eyes still love the journey he takes you on. I do love a bit of Gilliam and I am really looking forward to his latest film.

DVD Forum debuted these four images and they are excellent.

It was Heath Ledger’s final film, and after his death Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell joined the production to complete the picture by filling in for Ledger, playing his character in a series of fantasy sequences.

Above is Christopher Plummer as the titular Dr Parnassus. Below is Lily Cole as his daughter Valentina.

Terry Gilliam chats with Plummer above and below is Heath Ledger as Tony.

Yet what is the film all about? Harry Knowles over on AICN has seen it and here is his description of the first 15 minutes.

The film opens in modern day London as a horse drawn turn of the last century amusement called THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS is being pulled through the streets. There are homeless littering the sidewalks. The Imaginarium pulls up outside of a tavern called MEDUSA. Drunken British assholes pouring out. When the Imaginarium begins to unfold… its flashing lights and painted banners unfurling… a figure takes the stage, looking like a turn of the century Mercury, this is Andrew Garfield playing Anton, a lovesick grown up Puck, serving as the Imagnarium’s Barker. Enticing the drunken street rats to watch this Victorian attraction.

But these are drunkards, intoxicated into a stupor of self-amusement. Hurling bottles, screaming unintelligible BS. Meanwhile, the Imaginarium is showing us more.

There seems to be a comatose bearded man with some marks on his face sitting in a lotus position on a clear Plexiglas thing with a pillow atop – to give a not so convincing version of a levitated stoop. Then the strangest 2 legged smoke shooting creature that reminded me briefly of Jeremy Hilary Boob, Ph.D. When it stands erect and turns around – we realize it is Verne Troyer, who later we’re introduced to as Percy, Dr Parnassus’ anchor to reality… kinda. The last member of the Imaginarium we’re introduced to is the utterly stunningly beautiful Valentina (UK’s stunning fiery redheaded Lily Cole) – she is Parnassus’ daughter.

The Imaginarium performance was lacking. It wasn’t connecting to the drunken rats. Things begin to get out of hand when a real bold ass of a drunk, who looks like a grown version of Francie Brady from THE BUTCHER BOY, but isn’t. He marches on the stage, throwing Anton and Percy off the stage. Parnassus is still in a trance, and the drunk starts chasing Valentina around – threatening to rape her. Back stage of the Imaginarium is dark and scary. Cut out trees. Then they go through this split mylar mirror thing – and suddenly there seems to be an unnatural amount of space. An endless distance of cut out painted trees, but in a real earthen landscape. He’s chasing after Valentina, who is teasing and drawing him in further. He trips and lands face first into a mud puddle, and as he wipes the mud from his face, his face is no longer his face. He’s an idealized version of himself.

Next the Drunk ends up in an impossibly large pile of beer bottles… and he looks about – and suddenly the cut-out trees are no longer cut out, but fantastically intricate veiny trees – impossibly large. That’s when the hand-monkeys swinging on bioluminescent vines begin buzz bombing the fella. Once the hand-monkeys grab him he’s lifted up above the trees, above the Earth itself, the bioluminescent vines are actually the enormous beautiful tendrils of space-borne jellyfish shooting their way through the cosmos. Turns out the hand-monkeys are the drunk’s friend – and he is dumped at the base of an impossibly large amount of steps up the mountain of some impenetrable greatness – which to ascend would give you the culmination of your very existence itself. Fulfilling the very meaning of it all. The drunk stumbles in the vague direction of this thing, when suddenly this Bowler Hat pub forms behind him – promising one last drink before his ascent… No sooner does he enter the establishment than it explodes. And Parnassus snaps from his trance, yells at his daughter – and the cops begin searching for the missing man, who, of course, is nowhere to be found.

15 minutes in, my mind was blown!

The two-hour film apparently features amazing visuals, but the storyline is rather complex, centering on Plummer as Dr. Parnassus, a man who runs a traveling sideshow with his daughter, a young barker, and a sidekick, played by Verne Troyer. Tom Waits plays the Devil, with whom Parnassus makes a Faustian bargain, and Ledger’s character joins the troupe after they find him hanging from his neck under a London bridge.

How does that grab you? Sounds like his Monty Python animations come to life.

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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Teaser trailer

Posted by LiveFor on January 25, 2009

Thanks to Pamela for sending this teaser of a teaser trailer for Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

“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 travelling 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.

Starring: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield, Verne Troyer, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law

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