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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)



Average Rating: 6/10
Reviews Counted: 189
Fresh: 121 | Rotten: 68

Terry Gilliam remains as indulgent as ever, but The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus represents a return to the intoxicatingly imaginative, darkly beautiful power of his earlier work, with fine performances to match all the visual spectacle.


Average Rating: 5.6/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 20 | Rotten: 14

Terry Gilliam remains as indulgent as ever, but The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus represents a return to the intoxicatingly imaginative, darkly beautiful power of his earlier work, with fine performances to match all the visual spectacle.



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Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 294,369

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Movie Info

Set in the present day, director Terry Gilliam's fantastical morality tale follows the traveling show of the mysterious Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) -- a man who once won a bet with the Devil himself, and possesses the unique ability to guide the imagination of others. Many centuries ago, Dr. Parnassus won immortality in a bet that found the malevolent Mr. Nick (Tom Waits) coming up short. While few would be foolish enough to try their luck against the powers of darkness a second time,

Apr 27, 2010


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All Critics (190) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (121) | Rotten (68) | DVD (4)

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is one of those movies that, despite spectacular elements, doesn't add up to a spectacular film.

May 6, 2011 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Terry Gilliam, the veteran film director who cut his teeth as the animation wizard of television's legendary Monty Python's Flying Circus, has flirted with genius throughout his career, and bedded her from time to time. In The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnas

January 15, 2010 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Parnassus is fun to watch a good deal of the time, and Gilliam is almost always visually surprising, but Ledger could have used a more momentous send-off.

January 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Detroit News | Comment (1)
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It teases with magnificently tantalizing moments that don't quite add up to one grand insight. Which, come to think of it, is an epiphany of its own peculiar sort.

January 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

When it's all done we're left with another recent Gilliam trademark: the highly imaginative mess.

January 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Shot through with a bold, extravagant generosity of spirit, this journey behind the literal and figurative looking glass marks a gratifying return to form for Gilliam, whose recent films haven't quite lived up to his capacities.

January 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is flawed, but you don't expect narrative drive or coherence; you go for the director's flights of fantasy. Possessed of an imagination that throws off more sparks than a fizzing, spinning Catherine Wheel, Gilliam is a fabulous fabulist.

August 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

One of the greatest motion pictures ever. From its astounding themes to its brilliant cast, stunning design to enchanting score, undeniable smarts to lasting significance, this is Cinéma! Buy this movie. View this movie. Marry this movie. I have spoken.

July 25, 2011 | Comments (2)

A return to form for director Terry Gilliam?

April 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Sci-Fi Movie Page
Sci-Fi Movie Page

I don't think it's such a big heresy to say that Terry Gilliam is both a genius and an annoyingly full-of-it director who's coasting on the goodwill he earned with Brazil.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source:

It's like snorting a line of pure Gilliam.

March 11, 2011 Full Review Source:

a confusing mess. ... a promising set-up assembled with bits and pieces of Gilliam's brilliance, but he clearly did not wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant vision

January 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

Overplotted and the film ends up as a head-scratcher -- we're supposed to sympathize with Parnassus, but the case just isn't strongly made.

May 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

Longo e com uma estrutura frouxa resultante das várias alterações, ainda peca pela resolução artificial que poderia perfeitamente ser descrita como um decepcionante diabo ex machina. Ledger merecia uma despedida melhor.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

...Ledger's death casts a blue shadow over the entire proceedings, as Gilliam hasn't the heart to turn this parade of images into something like a meditation on the cost of achieving one's wildest fantasies.

May 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | Comment (1)
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A trippy, uneven ride whose best assets are its imagination, Heath Ledger's final performance, and the three surprise stars who act as his replacements.

March 31, 2010 Full Review Source: Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

Terry Gilliam can't catch a break.

March 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Weekly
Philadelphia Weekly

Fate's cruel trick -- taking Heath Ledger from us midway through filming -- has inspired Gilliam to make one of his most inventive and strange films.

March 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Salt Lake Tribune | Comments (2)
Salt Lake Tribune

Walks a thin line between the convenient and the absurd.

February 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Projection Booth
Projection Booth

The actual story is muddled, but the imagination of the visual imagery is very good.

January 20, 2010 Full Review

although there are resplendent moments, they are mired in the kind of general narrative mishmash that makes you wish Gilliam would get outside his own head a little more and try harder to get inside of ours

January 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Heath Ledger is fine in his last performance, but the great Gilliam is still in a bit of a slump.

January 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Reno News and Review | Comment (1)
Reno News and Review

Gilliam has had a rough 10 years, but he's ended the decade with what is easily one of his seminal works. He has shown what imagination and storytelling means to him, and he's made one of his best films in the process.

January 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

More for Terry Gilliam completists and Heath Ledger's more devoted fans than a general audience.

January 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

Audience Reviews for The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Gilliam began with the idea of making a film totally from scratch, the eternal battle between good and evil, with the framing device being an imperfect father's perfect love for his daughter, an immortal valentine if you will. But then the unfortunate happened, and the story's focus changed. Adapting well with tragedy, still the valentine remains.
June 17, 2012

Super Reviewer

If you like Terry Gilliam it is exactly what you hoped it would be.
October 25, 2011
Joseph Brightly

Super Reviewer

compelling story but non-practical VFX were uneven
October 21, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Tony: Where the hell are we?
    2. Percy: Geographically speaking, in the Northern Hemisphere. Socially, on the margins. And narratively, with some way to go.
    – Submitted by Typhon Q (19 months ago)
    1. Anton: What's that doing in a teapot!
    – Submitted by M M (22 months ago)
    1. Mr. Nick: You're probably not a betting man are you?
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Tony: Don't believe everything you read. Especially The Mirror.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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December 23, 2009:
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This week at the movies, we've got a legendary detective (Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey...
October 25, 2009:
Terry Gilliam Talks Doctor Parnassus
He's known as Captain Chaos and his productions are notoriously problematic. Brazil (1985) almost...
October 8, 2009:
Trailer Bulletin: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
It won't be open for business until December 25, but you can take a peek inside "The Imaginarium of...

Foreign Titles

  • Das Kabinett des Dr. Parnassus (DE)
  • L'Imaginarium du Docteur Parnassus (FR)
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