The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (no spoilers in OP)

Nice dedication from Terry Gilliam: “A film from Heath Ledger and friends". I think TG fans will enjoy this movie; others, not so much.

First off, it’s filled with his trademark wild visuals–for me the imagery is as impressive as some of the stuff in Avatar. One comment I read remarked, “imagine what Terry could do with a James Cameron budget!”–indeed, seeing this movie in 3D would be an amazing experience. Even in 2D, Gilliam creates a fantastic world full of bizarre creatures, landscapes, details, space and color…it almost demands a second viewing to take it all in.

The cast, overall, did a great job. I thought Christopher Plummer was particularly good, and Tom Waits was a hoot as his nemesis (has he ever spoken so clearly? :p) Ledger’s last role isn’t his best work, but he still has that magnetic quality. I read that a he improvised a lot, and his scenes do have a spontaneous feeling about them. Colin Farrell’s part seemed the only off-note to me, and I’m not really sure why.

Of course, with any Gilliam film, you expect a roller coaster of a story, and this is no exception. It all boils down to Parnassus making one too many bets with the Devil…and who ends up having the best trick up their sleeve. I’d recommend this to fans of Brazil and Twelve Monkeys; others might find The Imaginarium more than a little bizarre.

Loved Brazil, hated Twelve Monkeys. I don’t know what to do! Well, I’m sure I’ll see it, it’s just a matter of when, where, and for how much.

I was planning on seeing it - didn’t know he was the one who did Twelve Monkeys. Now I’m not so sure…

Brazil has been my favorite Gilliam movie by a country mile. We just saw Imaginarium this afternoon–and I have a new contender for favorite. It was wonderful. Totally confusing, have no doubt, but wonderful.

Saw it this afternoon and liked it a lot. Way more imaginative and infinitely less predictable than Avatar, which I saw a few days ago.

One question – at the very end,

when Parnassus sees Valentina and her family in the restaurant – is her husband Anton? My friend thought so, I didn’t recognize him.

I’ve never seen a Gilliam film before, and I went into this expecting an Alice in Wonderland-style bizarre movie where things are strange! and weird! for the sake of showing everyone how strange! and weird! the creators can be. I was pretty impressed with how the story unfolds and how the creators were able to blend the wonderful with the mundane and make for a pretty interesting ride, without being so bizarre that it becomes tedious. There wasn’t a whole lot from the characters, but they were interesting enough. I had a pretty good time, and I think you can get enjoyment out of this movie no matter your expectations.

To say the visuals were on par with Avatar is a little bit silly, though. And I too found Farrell distracting. It seemed to me like he was doing a Johnny Depp impression. I felt like we were given a string of extremely competent and accomplished actors (Ledger, Depp, Law) and then a fool, but I admit that’s probably just my prejudice against his career.

Oh, and, **twickster, **I’m positive that it was. It follows the events just before for it to end that way, too.

I’ve seen it twice so far and oh my, I do love it so. I saw the midnight show on Thursday, and I saw it again last night. I hope to see it several more times. I thought I might, because Brazil is my all time favorite film, my Desert Island movie, and of course I’m a Heath Ledger fan and a Depp/Law/Farrell fan, but you never know, so I was relieved that not only did I like it, I absolutely fell in love with it.

Heath Ledger was in the movie far more than what I had assumed. I had tried to stay away from any talk about the movie during the entire time it was filming and prior to release because I didn’t want to be spoiled, and for some reason I was under the mistaken impression that he’d only filmed a small bit of his part before he died. I’m glad I was wrong.

I think the switch to the other actors was seamless and worked very well. The movie had already established that people’s identity/faces could change once they entered the Imaginarium, and the change from Ledger to Depp/Law/Farrell is always acknowledged, which might have been a bad idea. It’s reassuring the first time, ok the 2nd time, but with more viewings, it’ll get annoying that the change is acknowledged every time. But, most people will only see the movie once or maybe twice, so it’ll only affect fanatics (or, like me, Fanatics-To-Be).

It was Anton in the restaurant.

For those who keep track of Things That Happen At The End of the Credits, yes, there is something. It’s not major like scenes, but I believe it means something.

Earlier in the film, when George/Tony wakes up, his cell phone starts ringing. At the end of the credits, that same ringtone starts ringing, and rings and rings. My take was that it was a comment on Heath Ledger’s death. There’s no one to answer the phone. I could be wrong.

I liked Colin Farrell. I like him anyway (I can’t imagine what about him irritates people) but he was perfect for his part here. Since each persona is a different personality (Depp suave and romantic, Law greedy and mercenary, Farrell, well, I don’t want to spoil anything) it’s a testament to Gilliam’s faith in Ledger when hiring him that he could be all those personalities. He would have been brilliant at it all, but we do what we can with what we have.

I’m reminded that Depp, Law and Farrell all gave their salaries to Ledger’s daughter Mathilda, so they were working for free. I love them for it.

Re: Anton – nice. I wasn’t disbelieving it, I just really didn’t recognize him.

I’m glad it was Anton in the end, because Val really did seem to treat him like shit through the movie. Did anyone else feel that way?

Re: Val’s feelings about Anton…I think she was just fed up with the whole waiting until she was 16 thing (to do, you know, whatever). Since Anton was going along with her Father’s taboo, her attitude towards him was understandably rather unkind.

Plus Anton was (seemingly) a known quantity. The impatience and scorn were understandable, the way many siblings act. They’d known each other since they were kids, so Val thought of him as a pesky, irritating brother, until she realized that he really cared about and loved her.
The movie reminded me of Mirrormask in one way. Some kids dream of leaving their boring, mundane lives and running away to join a circus. These girls lived in a fantastical circus-like atmosphere, and dreamed of running away to join the real, mundane world.

Does anyone know how much of the film had to be changed after Ledger’s death? Was the face changing aspect always intended or added afterwards? It’s lucky that Ledger was able to film so much of the film! I had thought he would only be in it briefly so I was surprised when he returned as the character when in the real world.

I was wondering this myself.
Of course one doesn’t go to a Terry Gilliam film expecting a simple, straightforward narrative. But the last third or so seemed especially disjointed and incongruous. My guess is thatTony’s final scenes were meant to occur in the “real world” rather than inside the Imaginarium, necessitating a fairly significant rewrite to proceed without Ledger.Maybe I’m way off on that, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the final product was ultimately pretty far from Gilliam’s original vision, and though it was indeed very imaginative and visually interesting, the film never really came together for me as a satisfying whole.

Couple of other thoughts:
Lily Cole is captivatingly beautiful, and I thought she gave a terrific performance. Here’s hoping we see much more of her in the future.

I was surprised there wasn’t much more hype surrounding this release, being Heath Ledger’s final film and all. My wife and I just kind of stumbled upon it when looking for something to do this weekend.

Casting Tom Waits as the Devil = Brilliant!

I became of fan of his as a kid with Time Bandits.
Loved Brazil, Twelve Monkeys, The Fisher King, and was even a huge fan of Baron Muchausen which many seem to dislike.
However, i thought Brothers Grimm was dreadful.
Can anyone assure me this is more like his pre- Brothers Grimm work?

I got part of an interview with Gilliam a few weeks ago (on Fresh Air maybe), and having multiple characters play Ledger’s part was indeed added after the actors death.

Terry writes about it here: Terry Gilliam remembers Heath Ledger

IMHO, this movie is very much like his earlier work.

I haven’t seen Brothers Grimm so I don’t have a direct answer to your question… But I’d say, since you seem to be a fan of Gilliam’s work in general, go ahead and check this one out. I didn’t love it, but I’m not at all sorry I saw it.

Find a bargain matinee or something. At worst, you’ll be out a few dollars and 2 hours of your life. At best you’ll have a new entry on the list of Gilliam films that you love.

Just saw this at an afternoon screening. I wish I had watched it with someone else, as it left me with a lot to discuss, so it was just running through my mind. I fear a lot of people who might really enjoy it will avoid it thinking it might be a “kid’s film”, which is very definitely is not.

Ledger died between the location shooting in the UK and all the bluescreen photography of the Imaginarium, which means the appearance of each of the proxies was indeed intended to occur through the mirror

She did a shoot for Playboy (the French edition), so you can see plenty more of her there.

hangs head in shame; after seeing her in repose in the gondola, I was stricken. :sigh:

If it weren’t for the fact that he’d already played Renfield, I would say this was the best casting Waits has ever received. As it stands, it still is marvelously inspired.

Though very rarely winners at the Oscars, Gilliam’s films have received a few nods in the technical categories before (including 3 in Art Direction and 2 in Costume Design), so I’m hoping a few mentions will come the film’s way just to increase the visibility a bit more. It’s already been short-listed for the Make-up category.

It seems then that not much re-writing would have been necessary; just a few lines to acknowledge that people’s appearances can change behind the mirror, and the early sequence with the drunk to establish it.
That said, the film had me through most of it, but lost me a bit toward the end. Sounds as if that may have been the case anyhow without the casting changes. But, that’s just me, and I was still impressed overall.

Can you guess what I’ll be looking for on my home computer this evening? :wink: