THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS


2009

DIRECTOR: Terry Gilliam

May Contain Spoilers!

Probably better known as Heath Ledger’s final film, The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus is much more than that. It is a satisfying if not typically off beat Gilliam effort, as we follow a troop of travelling players, as they set their Victorian pitch up in modern-day London, when they come across Heath Ledger hanging from a bridge.

There’s a lot to the story and I won’t go into it for fear of spoilers and just because it quite complex. As many of you will know, Heath Ledger died during the production of this film, but after he had completed shooting one section of the story. The un-filmed scenes revolved around dream sequences and this problem was overcome by casting Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to play his role in these unreal scenes.

On the face of it, it sounds like a risky and futile proposition, a patchwork solution at best. Does it work? Well, it could easily have been written that way in the first place. It’s seamless, blending perfectly into the narrative and the tone of the script so far.

Gilliam has made a career of thinking outside the box and this is no exception. By successfully contriving this solution, he has managed to salvage what could have been a lost Heath Ledger performance and his own film at the same time. But as the film goes, it’s enjoyable, intriguing and complicated, but most of all, very stylish. The performances are solid, with Christopher Plummer as the titular Doctor Parnassus leading the way, let alone the late Heath Ledger himself, putting in quite a distasteful performance.

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