The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus


This wacky fantasy (from the wild imagination of filmmaking giant and former Monty Python Terry Gilliam) is about Dr Parnassus and his extraordinary 'Imaginarium' - a travelling show where members of the audience get an opportunity to choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom. It's also about the Doctor's quest to get his daughter paired off to a nice man before the Devil (Tom Waits!) claims her.... More

Terry Gilliam's film is already infamous for the tragic death of Heath Ledger, who passed away during filming. Gilliam hatched a plan: he got Ledger's friends Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law to came on board and play the same character in different versions. They donated their fee for appearing in the film to Ledger's daughter, Matilda.Hide

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Flicks Review

An immortal monk strikes a deal with the devil and the scene is set for a carnivalesque cornucopia of madcap mayhem.

Despite some seamless use of computer-generated imagery, there’s a charming sense that Terry Gilliam’s latest film could have been made thirty-odd years ago. A timeless, raggedy, throwback appeal makes this fantasy feel like something the ex-Python could have created much earlier in a career notoriously plagued with disaster.

Most notably disastrous here, of course, was the passing of Heath Ledger during production. Three other big name actors – Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell – take over the character respectively whenever Ledger goes through the magical curtain and, miraculously, it seems to work. That is until the odd ending arrives, the meaning of which is so vague that a hastily reworked screenplay seems evident.

But I reckon this is Gilliam’s best film in ages. It’s a fun curiousity; nonsensical and proud of it. The imaginarium brings with it mind-boggling scenes of fantasy and dreamlike delusions. Much like the titular travelling sideshow, Parnassus is a rickety ride, but it's worth stepping right up and taking a trip beyond the curtain...

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 8 ratings, 7 reviews
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Tom Waits is in this - he plays The Devil. He's amazing. I quote him, "There's no devil, there's only God when he's drunk"...

Good movie if you are looking for a laugh. However it is a little boring and it can send you off to sleep so eat heaps of popcorn and sugarly drinks to stay awake.

I thought it was excellent once it got going. Heath Ledger was excellent, I did though think Colin Farrell, Jude Law, and Johnny Depp were average, but some how the film seemed to work with them in it. Overall 4/5 stars from me.

The computer graphics and incredible imagination scenes aside, this movie just doesn't deliver. Too many ideas, not enough coherent implementation.

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The Press Reviews

64% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • There are thrilling flashes of Gilliam getting back to top form here. A scrappy movie with more ideas than it can control, but one born out of a passion and determination that are wholly infectious. Full Review

  • A hard to fathom storyline and obvious CGI effects detract from an otherwise big-hearted final film for Heath Ledger. Full Review

  • The first big question about Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" involves how the filmmaker managed to complete the film when his star Heath Ledger died in the middle of shooting. The answer is with great imagination and skill. The second big question is whether Gilliam has produced something to rank with his great fantasies "Time Bandits" and "Brazil," and the answer is sadly no. Full Review

  • Gilliam’s plotting is typically ramshackle, but the fantasy visions are wondrous. Top job of rescuing Heath Ledger’s cruelly curtailed contribution, too. Full Review

  • Many Ledger fans certainly will turn out just to see his final performance. But it's genuinely interesting to see how, under duress, Gilliam contrived to work the other actors into the role. Full Review