The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Reviews

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June 22, 2016
Wtf did I just watch? There's obviously great visuals and some kind of story but I did not get it at all. Oh well.
½ December 25, 2009
Interesting theme, but ultimately a bit too bizarre for my taste.
June 5, 2016
Some people will think it was just okay, but this playful little masterwork really represents the best cinema has to offer in pretty much every respect.
½ June 3, 2016
Terry Gilliam from the outset has been a force of nature visually. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is disjointed, whimsical, dark, and spectacular. Disjointed, not in the negative, but as a purposeful part of the human imagination in a waking dream state that is just that. When the travelers walk through the mirror, they are alive in a dream state, encircled by their greatest dreams and nightmares. Dr. Parnassus embodying both, for as a munk with great understanding and purpose, then a scorned lover, he knows both worlds. The extensive cast is wonderful evoking that sense of wonderment and imagination, of all that one strives for in one's dreams attempting to make them real. But as is often the case in striving for one's dreams, deals are made and deals are lost, or one remains within oneself and takes what's offered without making deal, if you will, with the devil. A wonderful film with great visuals and acting by the entire cast. It may become a bit disorienting at times, but that is life and the dream state isn't it?
May 17, 2016
Optical stunning, but lousy story!
½ May 15, 2016
the shit affects drove me nuts... it looked awful
½ April 26, 2016
All the imagination and spectacle you would expect from a Gilliam film, and then some. A throwback to some of his earlier work. Great performances by all, perhaps overshadowed by the fact that it is the final performance of Heath Ledger and the altruistic performances by Depp, Law, and Farrell.
½ April 16, 2016
Visually exciting but narratively confusing, I've tried to get through this a couple of times now. Sometimes, director Terry Gilliam's obviously very fertile imagination just gets away from him.
November 2, 2009
A wild imagination indeed...although the story was at times way too bizarre, it is visually very interesting. Also, with the unfortunate passing of Heath Ledger, they managed to blend the void well by using this strange world and how people saw the "Tony" character by using Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell, who essentially is a man of many faces and isn't who he seems.
March 20, 2016
Unapologetically indulgent, with a superb cast! It's very fortuitous how they were able to salvage Heath Ledger's last film appearance with imaginarium stand-ins by equally enigmatic contemporaries.
December 13, 2009
Im not a Gilliam fan and this hasnt swayed me. Its pretentious, muddled and down right dull.
½ November 26, 2009
THE IMAGINARIUM CAPTURES IMAGINATION


Enthralling loyal fans and baffling novices, Director Terry Gilliam's distinctive flair for good vs. evil existential fantasies is once again brought to the viewer. A visual feast of colour daring to beg the questions of the universe, Gilliam's unique and increasingly unhinged cinematic flights of fancy range from on-screen genius to the practically unwatchable.

Marred with issues, this wondrous, dark and opulent film was to be the troubled director's triumphant comeback. However, his imaginative brilliance is tempered by moments of incoherence and strange disillusionment.

Essentially hindering the project, Gilliam is faced with more than his fair share of directorial issues, but nothing compared to his greatest trial, the loss of leading man Heath Ledger. Lovingly accredited to "Heath Ledger and Friends", The Imaginarium suffered-not from his absence, blossoming under the tender care of his all--star friend stand-ins Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell.

Subsequently rewritten to seamlessly accommodate the characters physical transformations, the miraculously elaborate and surreal dream-logic works better than it has any right too. Adding whimsy to the story's mixed concepts of fantasy and reality, the shared character remains completely coherent although underdeveloped.

In the present day, 1000 year old monk-turned-showman Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) leads a travelling theatre troupe about the streets of London in a horse-drawn demountable stage contraption.

The rickety medieval pantomime style show consists of sleight -of-hand expert Anton (Andrew Garfield), dwarf Percy (Verne Troyer), Parnassus' almost of age daughter Valentina (Lily Cole) and of course Parnassus himself.

Parnassus, when in a meditative state, controls the central focus of the show, a magical mirror through which audience members enter a surreal world projected by their own innermost desires and personal mental landscapes.

In a centuries-spanning duel, it seems the good Doctor made a pact with the devil. In exchange for his immortality, he agreed his daughter (who had not even been thought of when the pact originated) should become the property of the devil on her 16th birthday. The day now approaching the devil; in the spiffy pencil-moustached form of Mr Nick (Tom Waits) has come to claim his prise.

A betting man in nature, the desperate doctor strikes a new wager; the first to win five new souls of those whom enter the enchanting portal's realm will keep Valentina. Already believed beaten, the Doctor resides to the fact that his daughter will soon be gone.

Enter Tony (Heath Ledger). Found hanging-by-his-neck from a bridge in the dead of night after a botched assassination attempt, the mysterious and amnesiac outsider has a gift.

Hopping aboard the ramshackle imaginarium, Tony offers ideas for improvement and instantly begins enticing and charming punters as a snake-tongued spruiker, leading them into the mirror and swaying their dreams.

However, as the supernatural mirror picks up the fantasies of all of its visitors and it quickly becomes apparent this shape-shifting trickster is not the innocent Mr. Nice Guy he seems and the Doctors battle might be lost before it's truly begun.

Gilliam remains a fascinating filmmaker, a storyteller with the ability to amaze. A spectacle, worth the price of admission alone, he melds together the streamlined modern London urban-scapes with the old-time production design of the Parnassus carriage and the CGI wonderlands beyond the mirror.

Johnny Depp, who portrays Tony in his first visit into the imaginarium, is simply wonderful. Tapping into his well versed repertoire of character acting, this is hands down the best scene of the film. Successfully seducing excited lady-shoppers in a Louis Vuitton paradise of oversized shoes and handbags, who could resist?

Depp's hypnotising and sexually alluring sequence pauses momentarily delving into a speech obviously added later as a tribute to Ledger. Dwelling on forever-young celebrities such as James Dean and Princess Diana, Depp convinces his lady friend that the public hold eternal reverence to the memories of those who pass early, like "gods".

Law's and Farrell's respective entrance into the imaginarium lacks the same eccentric flair and poignancy, giving the impression that it was time for things to wrap, even if anticlimactic.

The Verdict: Ledgers final performance will inevitably be scrutinised, discussed, picked over and dismissed as not his finest work. Sadly this is true. Not to be taken as his legacy, The Imaginarium does feel as though it was made from his first takes and is simply not at the same level as his Oscar winning performance as The Joker in Dark Knight.

Nonetheless, this moving tribute is a compelling feat completed by men, of who held their colleague in great esteem and very clearly cared.


Published : The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication : 06.11.2009
February 1, 2016
Yet another infuriating offering from Terry Gilliam. A wonderful cast, at times glorious production design and camera work, shackled to an increasingly irritating and formless story that has no discernible destination and zero wit. But this has been true of all Gilliam's movies: he was far better when he had no budget and one minute of Monty Python screentime.
December 5, 2015
Terry Gilliam is known for being a member of the beloved Monthy Python group and for being an extremely imaginative and peculiar director that crafts insanely detailed worlds and provides a surreal experience. But "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" isn't remembered for its director, but for being the last film Heath Ledger made. Is this film a worthy conclusion to Ledgerīs career?
Doctor Parnassus is an immortal man that travels around London with his daughter Valentina, his assistant Percy, and his worker Anton. They travel to provide a gipsy show that promises a life changing experience, but unfortunately almost no one is interested. One day, the come along an stranger named Tony, who may change their fortune.
When it comes to Terry Gilliam, you either love his imaginative and unconventional style or you hate it, and I personally I admire it (I love "Brazil", "12 Monkeys", and "Time Bandits"), but having said that I will admit that "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" is filled with imperfections. "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" counts with Gilliamīs trademark irreverent directing, the visuals are striking and full of originality (sure, they look cheap but that's the point of the Imaginarium itself), a lot of interesting ideas are executed marvelously, the acting is solid, the comedy works, the main trio of characters are interesting, Law-Depp-Farrell are a perfect representation of Ledger and the message of the history is inspiring (it is obvious that this is Gilliamīs most autobiographical film to date). With that being said this film is a mess, which is not surprising from Gilliam but what truly is shocking is the lack of organization that most of his previous films have. "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" counts with two unlikeable characters that hurt the experience every time they are in frame, the concept is underutilized, while the Law and Depp sections feel connected, the Farrell section drastically changes the tone and it is the one section that feels it was added due to the death of Ledger, the use of the Imaginarium is inconsistent, at first it was all about the buildup of what's across the mirror, but the last portion of the film is just about throwing random stuff at the audience; and the story is extremely inconsistent. Sure, Terry Gilliam movies are about ideas and creativity, thus the plot is just the excuse that gets characters to one point to another, but with this film it seemed that Gilliam wanted to tell the story of Faust combined with some autobiographical elements but then Heath Ledgerīs character completely changes the story from a simple tale of a man and the Devil to the a romantic triangle.
"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" is a frustrating film as it has some greatness but its inconsistent storytelling and script are what breaks the whole experience. While it has its moments, this film lacks the magic that made other Gilliam films the beloved films they are. Fun but forgettable.
½ November 3, 2015
This is an astounding, accomplished vision that any other mind than Terry Gilliam's could not produce. As a final tribute to the loss of Heath Ledger, of course it's not enough, but what film would be?
Super Reviewer
½ May 31, 2010
The visual effects are a true delight but it is hard to follow such a confusing mess of a narrative that stretches for so long and doesn't seem to know where to go, which seems to result from the many unfortunate plot alterations that had to be made after Ledger's death.
½ April 29, 2012
A film only Terry Gilliam could make as his tremendous imagination is allowed to run wild, converting one of his storybook cartoons to life, yet with the substance, meaning and emotion missing from other films where he is so free with reality. It's a little slow to get going, but the mystery and promise of marvels to come keeps one watching and patience is surely rewarded.
December 30, 2012
A visual masterpiece with interesting, innovative plot elements.

Lacking in character depth, but it makes up for that in beautiful visuals and a captivating story.
July 2, 2015
Absurd plot threads, beautiful costumes, crazy sets, and janky special effects - for better or worse, "The imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus" is a Terry Gilliam movie, through and through.
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