Archive for the ‘Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus; The’ Category

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – DVD review

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus 


“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” ranks somewhere in between “Tideland” which is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen and “The Brothers Grimm” which is barely watchable, in the cannon of Terry Gilliam.

The film follows a troupe of strange circus folk who have a magical mirror that transports people to another land. Dr. Parnassus heads up the group of misfits as the alcoholic patriarch making the wheels of the caravan go round and round. His young daughter and two traveling companions (one played by Vern Troyer) round out the troupe.

We soon learn that long ago Dr. Parnassus made a deal with the devil for eternal life. Now the devil (called Mr. Nick and played by Tom Waits) has come for his collection of souls which the deal was made for.

The troupe travels around to London pubs attempting to entertain drunks as the bars close and have them travel through the mirror which explores their inner imagination. They soon come across a man (Heath Ledger) who has lost his memory. He unwittingly, and for some reason, joins the troupe of misfits.

It’s widely known that Ledger’s death halted the production of the film and that Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law stepped in to complete his parts and finish the film. This is not the reason why “Dr. Parnassus” falls flat.

Terry Gilliam’s stunning visual prowess remains inhibited for the majority of the film. We only glance at his magical world that lay beyond the mirror most of the time. Instead what we are given for the majority of the film is a throwback glance to a different time when road performers were the foundation of entertainment. It’s quite strange this troupe is even allowed to set up shop in many of the places they do. The dialogue doesn’t seem to fit, the performances seem to make no sense at all, and the strange lands that people inhabit past the mirror come off as mediocre CGI at times. That being said, there still are some stunning Dali-esque scenes that weave their way into the film. For a director who is best known for his magical worlds, this one seems not so magical at all, bordering on something out of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Gilliam does embrace some of his earlier Monty Python roots though which at times is entertaining.

Now some people will say, well you don’t get it, you don’t get the mind of Terry Gilliam. No I get it alright. “Brazil” and “Twelve Monkeys” are two of my favorite films, and I consider them to be stunning masterpieces that also have a great story to tell. They show Gilliam running on all cylinders with great focus and imagination. “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” hints at these great films at times, but rarely hits any of the right notes.

Grade: C-