Film Review: The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 16 Oct 2009

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

A film that will, above all else, always be remembered as the masterful Heath Ledger’s last film before his tragic death last year, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a thoroughly intriguing, if somewhat flawed, trip by co-writer/director Terry Gilliam.

The plot, and I use the term loosely, centres around the immortatal Dr. Parnassus (Plummer) and his travelling theatre troupe, which after making a deal with the Devil (Waits), Parnassus transports its audiences into another dimension of weird and magical wonders. But after the Devil want to cash in his end of the bargain, Parnassus’ daughter falls into danger meaning the troupe must fight their way through parallel worlds, with the help the odd Tony (Ledger/Depp/Law/Farrell).

Though for a short while after Ledger’s death it was feared production might halt on The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, cast and crew felt it in their duty to finish what the majestic actor had begun and his character Tony undergoes various transformations as the troupe travel between parallel worlds allowing three other actors to complete his role. The adapted plot works perfectly with the tone of the film and the development of Tony to the point it feels like it was always written that way. Ledger is brilliant, as you would expect, and Depp, Law and Ferrell amply fill his boots where necessary.

From Terry Gilliam you would expect nothing other than a surreal affair, and on the whole he does not disappoint. There are flashes of brilliance in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus that represent some of his very best work but given the wandering plot that goes both everywhere and no where at all, it loses its way in the latter portions and will put audiences patience and concentration to the test.


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