For Heath Ledger fans, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a bittersweet success. The storyline is one of director Terry Gilliam’s many erratic tales. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen director is known for his seemingly all-over-the- -place storylines, but Imaginarium is beautifully coordinated with computer-generated imagery that allows you to the see the story as Gilliam meant it to be.
Though Ledger unfortunately passed away during the making of the film, it created an interesting and touching twist. Friends of Ledger – Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Collin Farrell – stood in to finish his scenes. The many faces of Ledger’s character Tony are represented by the trio in Doctor Parnassus’ Imaginarium, and hold a symbolic meaning that speaks to Tony’s character.
Doctor Parnassus is played by Christopher Plummer, also seen in The Lake House , who portrays an immortal man touring around modern-day London in a rickety horse-drawn caravan. He travels with soon to be 16-year-old daughter Valentina, played by UK born Supermodel Lily Cole.
Parnassus has gotten himself into a sticky situation by gambling with the Devil dubbed Mr. Nick, played by Tom Waits. The wager? Collect an agreed amount of souls by a set date or Valentina will belong to Mr. Nick on her 16th birthday.
Parnassus’s caravan folds down into a stage where he, “Val”, his trust-worthy but ill-tempered friend Percy, and his barker, Anton, perform in the lower parts of London for drunks and the like. Percy is played by Verne Troyer of Austin Powers, while Anton is played by Andrew Garfield from The Other Boleyn Girl.
Once attentive to the performance, an unsuspecting audience member is taken through a rather phony looking glass mirror, only to find themselves inside a world of imagination. Whether that world be solely the imagination of Doctor Parnassus or their own is unclear. It is in the Imaginarium that they must make an unwitting choice of good or evil and it is thus the souls collected by both Mr. Nick and Parnassus are counted.
The film is quite topsy-turvy in its meanings and expressions, but it has a lovely resemblance to a Tim Burton film-without giving you the creeps. Like Alice Through the Looking Glass, the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is sure to be a favorite for many.
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