Come one, come all and bare witness to the wonders of Doctor Parnassus’ amazing Imaginarium. A doorway into the very mind of Doctor Parnassus, the Imaginarium allows people to step into their imaginations and experience them in ways they never thought possible. To step into the Imaginarium is to be transformed forever but whether it be change for the better or for the worst remains to be seen. You see, it’s not only Doctor Parnassus who holds sway over the Imaginarium, there is also the evil Mr. Nick to contend with.
Over a thousand years ago Doctor Parnassus (played by Christopher Plummer) had been a monk charged with the responsibility of keeping the world existing by continually telling the story of the world. It was believed by his order that if they were to ever stop telling the story the world would cease to exist. When Mr. Nick (played by Tom Waits) pays the monks a visit he challenges their beliefs and forces them to stop telling the story of the world by magically sealing their mouths shut. When the world does not end after all Parnassus assumes that it is because there are people all around the world telling stories and as long as those stories are being told the world will continue to exist.
Believing this to be a ‘weak hypothesis’ Mr. Nick asks Parnassus if he is a betting man and so begins a thousand year gamble between the two. Throughout the centuries Parnassus and Mr. Nick make wagers on who can collect the most souls with Parnassus winning the first wager in which he is granted immortality. Sadly immortality comes with a high price and after hundreds of years Parnassus finds himself a broken shell of a man in a world no longer interested in imagination.
Here in the present, Doctor Parnassus is the leader of a destitute traveling theater troupe consisting of Percy, a fellow monk and loyal friend (played by Vern Troyer), Anton, a young apprentice (played by Andrew Garfield) and Parnassus’ daughter Valentina (played by Lily Cole). Parnassus now spends his days drinking and telling his daughter tales of his past and how he met and had fallen in love with her now dead mother. The worst part is that in order to have Valentina’s mother fall in love with him he had asked Mr. Nick to grant him youth and mortality with the price being the soul of any of Parnassus’ children upon their sixteenth birthday.
As Valentina’s sixteenth birthday approaches Parnassus is granted one last chance to save his daughter. A final wager between Parnassus and Mr. Nick, a race to be the first to collect five souls, shall determine the fate of Valentina. Things look hopeless, that is until the troupe rescues Tony (played by Heath Ledger), a man hanging from a bridge who claims to have amnesia. There is more to Tony than meets the eye but has he been sent by providence to help Parnassus and his daughter or is he merely a pawn of the evil Mr. Nick?
I had been waiting to see this movie ever since I first heard it was being filmed. Of course the fact that The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus had been Heath Ledger’s last film before he died had a lot to do with that. Thankfully, as sad as Heath’s passing was this film stands as a wonderful tribute to a gifted actor.
The movie is full of charm and whimsy and is unmistakably a Terry Gilliam production. The tale of a man who foolishly continues to gamble with the devil, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is fun yet bittersweet as it is Heath Ledger’s final film. The use of Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to represent the many faces of Tony while inside the Imaginarium not only saved the film, it could have easily been originally written that way.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is slated for DVD and Blue-Ray release on April 27th 2010.
An absolutely wonderful film I give The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus five very happy smilin’ dudes out of five.
😀 😀 😀 😀 😀