The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Beautiful. Amazing. Wow.

I hate that this wasn’t in more theaters because that would have been an incredible way to see this movie. There are some movies that you’re meant to see that way, this is one of them.

The story revolves around a traveling theater comprised of Dr. Parnassus, his daughter Valentina, along with fellow performers Percy and Anton (who’s in love with Valentina). As they travel along the story unfolds with the narrative playing through in addition to some flashbacks as told by Parnassus himself to his daughter. The crux of the story is about a bet, a bet made with the devil that involves Parnassus’ daughter and the fate of her soul.

The clock is ticking as the devil comes collecting on Valentina’s 16th birthday and the good doctor is panicking, trying to find a way out. More bets are made, and…and that’s all I can say, you’ll need to watch it, and it will be totally worth it.

Terry Gilliam (Monty Python – just about everything they did, 12 Monkeys, many more movies worth checking out) is at the helm and builds a lavish tapestry in each scene. And yes, there are some definite nods to the mighty Python. The detail and imagination behind this is obviously a journey through Gilliam’s mind played out through different personalities in the film. Each person that enters the Imaginarium steps into what is essentially their dream world, but it comes at a price and the visual elements that comprise these choices lend a tangibility to each person’s imagination which includes their demons depending on the choices they’ve made in their lives.

The writing is compelling and the way everything plays out is very entertaining to watch, there are some great left turns that resolve themselves in sometimes unexpected ways. Well done.

The acting is also great, a number of surprises in here and everyone brings their A-game. The list of talent is impressive and includes: Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield, Verne Troyer, Heath Ledger (sadly his last film), Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law and Tom Waits as the devil.

This one’s a no-brainer, see it.

reviewed by Sean McKnight