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The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus

USA 2009
Directed by
Terry Gilliam
122 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus

Synopsis: Dr Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) is an immortal storyteller, taking his ramshackle travelling theatre around modern-day London and encouraging punters to step though his mirror and face their brightest and darkest desires as he and. His opposite number Mr Nick (Tom Waits) battle for the souls of mortals.

Terry Gilliam came to fame as part of the Monty Python troupe, his surreal animations serving to bridge the gaps between sketches and making a significant contribution to the Python’s absurdist brand of humour and leveraging his subsequent career in feature film. There is no doubt that his latest offering is a visual delight, a talented illustrator's triumph but when it comes to narrative development The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is less satisfying.  

Written by Gilliam with Charles McKeown who also co-wrote Gilliam's The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen (1989) and Gilliam’s masterpiece, Brazil (1985), evidently the root problem is not in the concept or the writing but with Gilliam’s almost ADHD-stoked  propensity for out-doing himself with flights of fancy. The result is a film that, appropriately enough, impresses for its imaginativeness but is ultimately derailed by Gilliam’s self-indulgence.

FYI: Although I doubt it made any difference to the final outcome Ledger's death one-third of the way through filming caused his role to be recast with Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell portraying transformations of his character as he travels through the film’s dream world.




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