Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gilliam's "Imaginarium" Suffered Tradegy, and is Better For It

Terry Gilliam is known for being a co-founder of one of the most influential comedy teams in history. His Monty Python troop was, at the time of its inception, and is now the epitome of satiric wit and dry British humor. Of late, he's been known for his visually spectacular, if not odd, style of filmmaking. His latest film, "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" is a story of morality, love and imagination.

Christopher Plummer stars in the title role. He is the leader of a traveling troop who offers people the option of stepping into the "Imaginarium", a world that is powered by his mind, and offers it's inhabitants two choices, absolute happiness, or certain doom. Dr. Parnassus is cursed with a dark secret. He claims to be over a thousand years old. Years ago, he made a deal with the devil, known as Mr. Nick, and he is now immortal. But there's a catch. He begs Mr. Nick to give him his youth, so he may father a child. Once the good doctor becomes a father, his child, upon his or her sixteenth birthday, becomes the property of Mr. Nick. The doctor's young daughter, Valentina (played excellently by the stunning Lily Cole) is nearing her sixteenth birthday, and the doctor, who has been dreading this decision for years, realizes that Mr. Nick cannot pass up a bet. He decides to bet the devil that whoever collects five souls will take Valentina and claim her as their own. Along their journey, with a midget named Percy (played by Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer) and Dr. Parnassus' assistant Anton, they discover Tony (played by the late Heath Ledger), who has had an attempt on his life by the Russian mob. Tony joins the traveling group, and falls in love with the beautiful Valentina. But in his jealousy, Anton vows to uncover Tony's past and win back Valentina.

Typically, Gilliam's films are not that appealing to me. As I began watching this film, I had the same feeling. But what makes this film different is the casting. As everybody may know, Heath Ledger met his untimely death while filming this movie, prompting Gilliam to fill his role. Ledger was absolutely a gifted actor who was well deserving of his posthumous Oscar win as the diabolical Joker in the latest Batman film. This film is set in the present day. During the parts of the film in the present day, the role of Tony is played by Ledger. As he enters the imaginarium, scenes which were filmed after Ledger's death, his role is filled by three equally gifted actors (in order of appearance), Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell. This added a whole other layer to an already multi layered and complex film. While it may have not been the filmmakers' original vision, it made it all the more interesting to see the transition between imagination and reality. Each actor played his respective role differently, yet effectively, despite being the same character. Depp plays Tony very lightly, with his signature brand of off-beat comedy. Law is slightly more diabolical, perhaps tapping into more of Tony's past. And Farrell represents Tony as he's falling in love with young Valentina. His performance is a combination of the two former, yet his own is heartfelt.

I highly enjoyed this film. Despite being marred by a tragic death of a incredibly gifted actor, the filmmakers and actors perservered and each turned in excellent performances. Gilliam is a great director with a unique vision. This film is not for the young kids. There are some disturbing images, but for the older kids, I highly recommend it.


  1. Hey Jared, Can you make your blog public so it shows up in search engines?

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  3. If you go to google blogs, and type in "Jared's classic movie blog" my blog is the second link down.