Terry Gilliam’s latest magnum opus, featuring Heath Ledger in his fateful last ever role, is opening tomorrow in cinemas across Britain. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a beautiful gothic fantasy set in modern day London. The story revolves around the mysterious Doctor Parnassus who has the skill to guide your thoughts to reveal your inner imaginary world. Parnassus was once a monk who made a deal with the devil for long life, and many other deals and bets since then, one of which involves the soul of his first child due at the age of 16. Parnassus tried to prevent this by never having a child, but (un)fortunately he did – a daughter played by the sparkling Lily Cole. And so the scene is set for the story.
As Parnassus and travelling show troupe try to save his daughter’s soul they come across Tony, played by Heath Ledger, hanging from Southwark bridge. They save him and he, in turn, acts to save them – or does he? All is not clear as Tony’s character evolves. Along the way Tony finds out about Parnassus’ magic mirror that reflects your innermost mind and enters it himself – and it is here that Terry Gilliam’s genius saved the movie when Heath unfortunately passed away – every time Tony enters the mirror he becomes another actor; Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell all take up the reigns to play the mirror Tony and to great effect.
Go and see this movie. You won’t see much press about it as Terry Gilliam is one of the most talented Directors in the world today but his movies never sit comfortably in the ‘blockbuster’ genre and so marketing departments seem to give up in despair – instead he makes us pay attention to the wonders he creates on screen and use our brains and imaginations to full effect. Parnassus sits with Gilliam’s classic fantastical movies; Time Bandits, Brazil, Baron Munchausen and the Brothers Grimm – all wonderful flights of fancy and visual feasts. More info on the film and a larger copy of this wonderful poster can be found here.