Terry Gilliam has always had a knack for distorting the normalcy of the world, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is no different. The movie follows a traveling group of performers, led by Parnassus. Thousands of years ago, Parnassus formed a pact with the devil to remain immortal. However, as his daughter is about to turn 16, the harder part of the bargain comes forward as Parnassus has to give her to the devil. The doctor has to enlist his ragtag group of performers to help overcome the devil by traveling into an altered reality where imagination brings out the true nature of a person.
Why you should see this movie.
This performance marked Heath Ledger’s last. Passing away before production was over, Gilliam and his writers had to adapt to make the movie work without being finished. Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Collin Farrell all took on a small part of the role to finish Ledger’s performance. This movie pulled it off thanks to the unique fantasy side of the film. When Ledger’s character goes into the imaginarium, he becomes someone else, Depp, Law, or Farrell, by indulging in his imagination. The rarity of the situation makes the film one of a kind by not stopping production after losing their lead.
Gilliam has a devoted group of followers that are extremely loyal to him. If you are uninitiated into the world of Gilliam, this movie gives you a very clear sense of what the rest of his movies are like. With distorted reality always at the forefront of his style, do not expect a movie drenched in conformity or lacking eccentricity.
Why you may want to see something else.
This movie has a unique look, feel, and pace. If you have seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or Brazil, you will know Gilliam’s style. As a result, the movie will not be too surprising. However, the unfamiliar will be thrown off by the truly bizarre world of Gilliam’s mind. He puts his bizarre nature on screen without a request for forgiveness.