Movie Review: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, a movie that almost didn’t make it to the screen because of the untimely death of Heathe Ledger. I guess that the movie did not play too well in the theater either because I don’t remember there being too much buzz around it all, though it did get some Oscar noms.
I finally sat down yesterday to watch Imaginarium and wasn’t sure what I was going to get. Of course it is a Gilliam piece, so I did know to expect some interesting visuals and even maybe some Monty Python-esque bits. In the end I wasn’t disappointed, but I was kind of left wanting a bit by the credit role.
The story is based on the ever waged battle between the Devil, or Mr. Nick, and Dr. Parnassus (God perhaps?) Of course when I say battle, I mean more along the lines of the Sheepdog and Wile-Y-Coyote than Legions of Demons and Forces of good. You se, the Devil and Dr. Parnassus are friendly and in reality kind of like one another even when they are diametrically opposed. They also have a great penchant for gambling that in the parlance of the movies story, uses the souls of human kind as the remuneration.
Basically, its an old story about free will, human nature, and love. Something that if you look into more deeply than the surface story, you will hear Joseph Campbell in your ear whispering about the “Hero With a Thousand Faces” and yes, you should listen to him. This film’s story may be a re-envisioning of an oft told tale, but, its something that we all should reflect upon now and again I think. All of this wrapped up in a very stylishly designed and shot film.
The acting in this film was also great. The choice of Tom Waits as Mr. Nick was inspired and he plays a great rakish kind of Devil who you kinda have to love even when he is being bad. Of course you have Christopher Plummer as Dr. Parnassus, and he does a great job at being a bumbling and befuddled dreamer of dreams. Verne Troyer, has the most lines I have ever heard him utter in a film and does an admirable job at being the conscience of the king in Percy as well.
The set design, CG, and costumes are all fantastic lending a real vintage carnival feel to the piece also. I especially loved the odd travelling stage that Dr. Parnassus has which seems at times like the TARDIS, being larger inside than it is physically outside! Gotta love that English mind set.
So, I would suggest a bit of Absinthe, and a nice sit down with this film. Grok to the strange kids and listen to your inner Joseph Campbell. Oh, and pay attention to the nuanced images/plot devices that parallel Propaganda Due….
“All the world is a stage” after all…
Check this one out.