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 The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus 

What grade would you give this film?
A 11%  11%  [ 1 ]
B 67%  67%  [ 6 ]
C 11%  11%  [ 1 ]
D 11%  11%  [ 1 ]
F 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Total votes : 9

 The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus 
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Post The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a 2009 fantasy film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Gilliam and Charles McKeown. The film follows the leader of a traveling theater troupe who, having made a deal with the Devil, takes audience members through a magical mirror to explore their imaginations.

Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, and Tom Waits star in the film, though Ledger's death one-third of the way through filming caused production to be temporarily suspended. Ledger's role was recast with Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell portraying transformations of Ledger's character Tony as he travels through a dream world.

The film's world premiere was during the 62nd Cannes Film Festival, out of competition. The UK release of the film was scheduled for 6 June 2009 but pushed back to 16 October 2009 due to its successful premiere at Cannes. The film was given a limited release in the US on Christmas Day 2009 and a nationwide expansion on 8 January 2010.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was nominated for two Academy Awards in the categories Best Art Direction (art directed by Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro, and set decorated by Caroline Smith; lost to Avatar) and Best Costume Design (costumes designed by Monique Prudhomme; lost to The Young Victoria).

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Mon May 25, 2009 11:57 pm
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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
is this out??

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Tue May 26, 2009 12:03 am
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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Not out. thompsoncory has seen it (maybe Cannes??) and has requested a thread.

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Tue May 26, 2009 12:11 am
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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Yep, I saw it twice at Cannes actually - once at the premiere and another time at a day-after screening because a friend of mine wanted to go.

-----

With the many production problems this film faced, including the death of star Heath Ledger midway through filming, one might think that Parnassus would be an utter disaster. But thankfully Terry Gilliam has managed to craft a fun and ultimately successful, though at times disjointed, film that shows no signs of the behind-the-scenes issues. The film follows a traveling group of actors and magicians led by the elusive Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), a mysterious old man with a secret to hide. A thousand years ago, Parnassus made a bargain with the Devil (Tom Waits) for immortality. The downside, however, is that at the age of 16 his young daughter Valentina (Lily Cole) will belong to the Devil. With only three days before Valentina's birthday, Parnassus makes yet another pact with the Devil to try and save his daughter's fate - the first one to collect five souls wins, with Parnassus leading individuals on the road towards life and imagination while the Devil tries to persuade them into temptation and sin. Coming to the aid of Parnassus is Tony (Heath Ledger), a mysterious drifter with a few secrets of his own to hide. The film is a visual feast for the eyes, with excellent art direction and costume design and fun, exuberant effects that create a unique and magical world for the characters to exist in. The cinematography and direction are both strong and the story is interesting and original. The performances are strong pretty much across the board. Ledger is charming and likable in his final role, and while the role isn't particularly demanding it plays to his strengths as an actor and serves as a nice tribute to his work as a whole. He's actually in the film for much more than one might expect, which was a pleasant surprise. The transition from Ledger to Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell (all of whom took over the role of Tony after Ledger passed) is perfectly handled and makes sense when it comes to the overall story. Depp has the shortest appearance of the three but is hilarious and charismatic, bringing his usual amount of energy to a brief segment. Law seems to be having a lot of fun but also handles the dramatic portions of his sequence strongly as well - continuing the development of Tony as someone who might not be as trustworthy as he seems. Farrell easily has the most screentime of the three and is in essentially the entire climax, and he's excellent here in showcasing the character's transition as he finally shows his true colors. These sequences work because all take place inside the 'imaginarium,' which depicts the inner workings of one's imagination. Christopher Plummer is great as always, and Lily Cole is a charming female lead. Verne Troyer is the only weak link in the cast, and delivers a flat and often annoying performance that feels completely out of place here. There are a few questions that are left unanswered in the final act regarding a few characters, but ultimately the conclusion is very satisfying and crowd-pleasing. This should be a must-see for any fantasy fan or a fan of any of the actors in question. It also serves as a lasting tribute to Ledger (the film itself features a title card at the end that says "A Film for Heath Ledger and Friends") that reminds us once again why he is so missed. B+


Tue May 26, 2009 1:54 pm
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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
I'm glad it wasn't a mess. I was afraid it might be so. Granted, I still could find it to be one, but your review gives me hope.

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Tue May 26, 2009 3:34 pm
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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Nice to see Ledger will have a sizeable final role. The movie actually sounds really good from your description. Hope the end result delivers.

So I assume Ledger doesn't give any sort of Oscar-y performance? I didn't think this would end up being an Academy Award type of film, even if it is his last performance.

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Wed May 27, 2009 11:16 pm
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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a very odd but yet beautifully acted and visual fest from Terry Gilliam. It's a film that will completely divide audiences depending on if you can stay with the pace of the film and all the stories that go with. Heath Ledger's las performance is another wonderful one tht adds his to his wonderful resume. The additions later on of Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farell work out very well and add more richness into the story. The plot involving a deal with the devil is strong though it goes off-track every now and then. The supporting cast is very strong from Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Tom Waits, Andrew Garfield, and Verne Troyer. It's a great film overall and hopefully can find its audience. ***


Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:46 pm
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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
It's a return to form for Gilliam, in a way; it's definitely most similar to Time Bandits amongst his oeuvre, with shades of his terrific surrealist animated work on Monty Python present throughout. It's a bit of a mess at times, and you're never really sure what it's about, but I'll be damned if there's a more visually interesting film this year. It does the 'revolutionary' Avatar to shame, to be sure.

Also, it's quite refreshing to see a film not purport to be more than it is. This is simply a whimsical, imaginative tale, with almost no heavy-handedness or posturing. Of course, it's got all of Gilliam's trademark ideas of imagination being beaten down by bureaucracy - finally coming to head in the title itself - but, like Time Bandits before it, it's little more than a fantastical story told by a master.

Ledger and his replacements are fine, but they're not really what the film's about. Neither is Dr. Parnassus, for that matter.

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Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:08 am
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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
trixster wrote:
It does the 'revolutionary' Avatar to shame, to be sure.


Hmm, more Avatar-related spamming in compltely non-Avatar-related threads and I'll be deleting the posts.

Thank you very much.

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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
A charming film. The plot is not fascinating, but the colorful characters are, and so are the extravagant, jaw-dropping visuals. I am surprised (and delighted) Heath Ledger is in the most of the film. It is a very entertaining, free-spirited performance and another testament to his talent. The three actors who share the role are also very capable. Colin Farrell is the best and most memorable.

B+

2014 EDIT: This film has risen further in my estimation upon repeat viewings at home. It truly is a blast and has edged closer to the top of the list of my favorite films by Terry Gilliam, a director I worship in general.

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Sun Jan 10, 2010 2:37 am
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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
I actually liked this one quite a bit. More than I was expecting to since I wasn't a fan of BROTHERS GRIMM or especially TIDELAND.

7/10 ( B )

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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
I think it's like his La Mancha film only that this time he's released what he had filmed.


Thu May 06, 2010 6:06 pm
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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Finally saw it; I enjoyed it quite a bit. Very Time Bandits like; definitely a Gilliam film, and I liked the way they worked in the other actors to finish what Heath could not.

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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
There's something I don't think is explained very clearly, is Tony actually an evil or good guy?

I enjoyed the movie but that sudden character turn was a bit out there, over at the imdb boards Gilliam fans are proclaiming that because we can't tell and it's not straightforward it's better than the average Hollywood movie.

That, to me, is a ridiculous assumption. I enjoyed the movie and for other reasons it's a better film than most that are produced, but not for the reason we cannot tell if his character is good or bad. The scene comes off as more of a surprise and unrealistic than anything else.

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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
7/10 -> B-

Very enjoyable fantasy flick. It's not without its faults though.


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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
BK wrote:
There's something I don't think is explained very clearly, is Tony actually an evil or good guy?

Because those are the only two classifications of characters.

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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Picked this up after hearing from others that it was bad, only to find it really, really good. Heath Ledger's role was much bigger in the final product than I expected (and surely even bigger if he hadn't died), and I kind of figured he would be the best part of the film, but he really isn't. By the time he shows up 20 minutes in, I was already invested in Dr. Parnassus and Co. It was a much more fun movie than I was expecting. Too bad things weren't different, even with Ledger's death. This is a much better movie and deserved a better run at the box office.

Grade: A-

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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
B+


The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is another shamefully overlooked film. Plot-wise it is very messy and like most of Gilliam's recent films it clearly puts more emphasis on style than substance. But the style is more than convincing. On a technical level the film is simply a marvel. The art direction, the makeup, the visual effects and the costumes are simply wonderful. It is one of the most beautiful films of 2009 and that alone should have garnered it more attention. Now I loved Avatar and will always defend that film, but thinking about all the talks of how unique Avatar was visually and how imaginative it was (and it really was, in my opinion), it is still a shame that barely anyone mentions Parnassus as it was, on many levels, just as creative and imaginative. Sure, Gilliam let his imagination run wild here, but unlike in Tideland (what a dark, gloomy and uncomfortable film that was!) it actually fits this film very well. It's a fairy tale through and through.

The cast is solid. 2009 was definitely a good year for Plummer. He finally got his well-deserved Oscar nomination for The Last Station, but he was also quite great in Parnassus as well. A lot of the attention was focused on Heath Ledger and his last performance. He's good, in a role somewhat reminding of his turn in Casanova, but it certainly was not one of his best performances. It was fun to see Farrell, Law and Depp doing their Ledger impressions, but as a matter of fact, none of them left a particularly lasting impression. Andrew Garfield, on the other hand, has shown first signs that he would be a great actor in the future.

Parnassus is an ambitious, gorgeous movie that can't score many points with its screenplay, but does so with its visual style. Just watch and enjoy the beauty and don't think too much about the film itself.

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Post Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
I agree with Akaky.

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