The imagination is a wonderful and precious gift with which each one of us is bestowed. Terry Gilliam gets it. He understands how important is is for us to protect and nurture the delicate nature of our imaginations; for without it all creativity would be lost.
I wish I did more to encourage the ongoing development of all that is magical, surreal, beyond belief and ‘almost’ impossible. In the structure and rigidity of much of my world, I sometimes think that these more fanciful and fantastical ideals become lost between the cracks. Perhaps then, it is the way that the ethereal world of the imagination is able to overcome practical realities that makes it all the more special.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is many things – thoughtful, mad, fun, intricate, wonderful, odd and awe-inspiring. It is therefore quite sublime.
The film follows the story of Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) and his travelling ‘Imaginarium’ show where audience members are able to travel through a magical mirror to explore their imaginations. Of course nothing is as simple as it seems; there are some dark devilish deals in the good Doctor’s past which are threatening the future fate of his daughter, Valentina (Lily Cole). Thus begins a desperate (and often hilariously cheeky) race against time to save Valentina from a fate worse than death, but just who will be her saviour?
Will it be her father, the thousand-year-old Doctor Parnassus? Or will it be one of her theatre troupe compatriots Anton or Percy? Or will it be the mysterious newcomer Tony (played perfectly in turn by Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell)? … But what of the devil himself (Tom Waits) in all this? Surely he also has a part to play and a hand to play? … and so the adventure between parallel worlds, life and death, good and evil, begins…
This is a story that sparkles. If you already enjoy the surreal experience that can be a Terry Gilliam film, you’ll like this movie. If you are a fan of beautifully delivered performances and precisely depicted characters, you’ll like this movie. If you appreciate whimsical, decadent and dream-like settings, you’ll like this movie. But perhaps it is for those who want to indulge in a visual treat that will unshackle your imagination and take the both of you on an amazing journey, who will like this movie most of all.