CATEGORIES Reviews
Heath Ledger and Lily Cole in 'The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus'Terry Gilliam's dark fantasy 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,' has had an aura of tragedy ever since Heath Ledger died in mid-production. The director, no stranger to adversity, persevered, enlisting Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to play Ledger's character in the movie's remaining scenes.

Though it's receiving mixed reviews, most critics agree that Gilliam made the best out of a terrible situation, and though this sometimes incoherent film is not his greatest, it's full of his trademark wit, whimsy and visual panache.

The story centers on the titular character (Christopher Plummer), the proprietor of a ramshackle traveling stage show that includes his teenage daughter Valentina (Lily Cole). Over the years, Parnassus has made a series of wagers with Mr. Nick, (a.k.a. the devil, played by Tom Waits) in exchange for eternal life. The most recent bet obliges the doctor to turn Valentina over to Nick on her 16th birthday unless he can deliver five souls in her place. Phantasmagorical doings ensue. Here's what the critics are saying: Heath Ledger and Lily Cole in 'The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus'Terry Gilliam's dark fantasy 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,' has had an aura of tragedy ever since Heath Ledger died in mid-production. The director, no stranger to adversity, persevered, enlisting Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to play Ledger's character in the movie's remaining scenes.

Though it's receiving mixed reviews, most critics agree that Gilliam made the best out of a terrible situation, and though this sometimes incoherent film is not his greatest, it's full of his trademark wit, whimsy and visual panache.

The story centers on the titular character (Christopher Plummer), the proprietor of a ramshackle traveling stage show that includes his teenage daughter Valentina (Lily Cole). Over the years, Parnassus has made a series of wagers with Mr. Nick, (a.k.a. the devil, played by Tom Waits) in exchange for eternal life. The most recent bet obliges the doctor to turn Valentina over to Nick on her 16th birthday unless he can deliver five souls in her place. Phantasmagorical doings ensue. Here's what the critics are saying:

Variety: "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. The way it plays out in the finished picture is that Ledger's incarnation of Tony, a man rescued from death who provides a possible way for Doctor Parnassus to win a wager with the devil, occupies the London-set framing story, while his three successors play versions of the character in the CGI sequences set in fantastical other dimensions. It all comes off well, without terribly disruptive emotional-mental dislocations."

New York Post: "The eye-popping 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' is not up to the very best work of either Gilliam ('Brazil') or Ledger ('The Dark Knight'), but it's a surprisingly satisfying coda to the latter's all-too-brief career."

'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' trailer


Entertainment Weekly: "The passing of time has not lessened the shock of seeing Heath Ledger hanging from a noose -- the late actor's very first scene as a slippery businessman named Tony in 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.' But it's just as well that death's reality is acknowledged up front; after that, the surreality of Terry Gilliam's existential fantasia soon absorbs Ledger -- as well as the bonus trio of stars pitching in, of sad necessity, as versions of Tony. Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell all don Tony's ice-cream-white suit during Gilliam's rambling meditation on destiny, free will, the magic of the sideshow life, and the lure of the devil. And they dust the director's characteristically squirrelly, dense, and visually overloaded project with the sparkle of celebrity." The New Yorker: "Are these embodiments of each person's fancy, or did Parnassus himself cook them up? I have no idea, any more than I can decide whether C.G.I. was the best or the worst thing that could have happened to Terry Gilliam. His gifts of invention were already so fecund, and so prolix, that this newfound ability to construct anything that drifts into his mind's eye-as opposed to the ramshackle, hand-drawn delight of his earlier animation-spells both enchantment and chaos. He can follow any train of thought, so he does, and it's no surprise when the trains run out of steam."

The Hollywood Reporter: "A carnival show with a mirror to the imagination allows Gilliam to employ his remarkable gift for imagery, but the worlds he creates will not take the breath away of children or grown-ups. The combined star power involved will generate a plentiful box office return, but the film is neither intelligent enough nor silly or grotesque enough to become a lasting favorite."

Village Voice: "This is potentially wonderful, if not exactly new stuff, but Gilliam and McKeown's willful refusal of coherent narrative and determination to pack every idea about art they ever had into one scenario, make this fiendishly gorgeous movie more exhausting than exhilarating to watch."

Salon: "The problem isn't necessarily that the movie is disorganized and plotless; there can be meaning, or at least deep feeling, even in apparent chaos. But Gilliam doesn't take the time to flesh anything out. His ideas seem visionary, until you try to figure out what his actual vision is. The movie is intended as a puzzle -- we're not supposed to easily figure out what it means -- but too often the effect is one of disorganization masquerading as genius, perhaps more disingenuous than it is enchanting."

Based on these reviews, do you want to see 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'?
Yes62 (86.1%)
No10 (13.9%)