Wow, it’s been said before and it will be said again, Terry Gilliam has a wild imagination. Or great insight on acid flashbacks…or possibly a little of both.
I saw ‘The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus’ today arriving in my seat not quite sure what to expect, always the case with a TG film. It did not disappoint as it’s a many layered story both on screen and off. I say this as the movie is also notable in that it stands as the end piece to Heath Ledger’s career and from that perspective it is a wonderful exclamation mark. The movie serves him well in many ways not least that several notable players stepped in to help finish the film after his untimely death. Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell pitch in and have been blended in to the film in such a way that it adds to the story rather than detracts.
All that said, the movie serves all its players and creators well in terms of story and visual depth. The film hosts dark and light in both the cinematography and the tale itself as characters strike deals with the devil to enhance their lives and then try to escape the consequences as the bills become due. The unwinding of the movie reel cajoles us to see what happens to the main protagonists and the innocents that are pulled in to their orbit.
The visual majesty is provided on several levels. It starts with the contrast between the world of a vagabond’s circus show in down at heel London to the imagined worlds beyond the show’s mirror. At this point TG steps through his own personal looking glass and ramps up the optical fireworks with his presentation of an array of worlds and questions that the various players imaginations create for themselves. And therein lies the essence of the film, great visuals encompassing a variety of moral dilemmas all played out around a deal with the devil.
It would bear a second watching for the astonishing visual scenes both sides of the mirror and some of the subtler aspects of both the action and the dialogue. If you wish to see it, it is definitely a movie you should try see at the cinema to do justice to the world’s from the directors imagination.
As a footnote it is also possible to see some of the Monty Python stylings here and there but they are no distraction and for the audience that knows TG they will enjoy that and for those that don’t they won’t see it.
Slyest line of the movie for me…”Don’t believe everything you read. Especially The Mirror.”