Saturday, 12 March 2011


Co-Writer/Director: Terry Gilliam
Running time: 117 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure/Drama
UK Release date: 16th October 2009

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 12th March 2011.


This is my 50th film this year, and by coincidence I decided to watch a film that has intrigued me for some time. There was a lot of talk about this one due to the unfortunate death of Heath Ledger. I know it didn’t get a rapturous reception, but I have been keen to see it ever since. I’ll give you my thoughts later, but here’s a brief summary first (summary haters and those that don’t wish to know anything about the plot please attract some punters for the show while I write the next paragraph).

Doctor Parnassus is a very old man, over a thousand years old, and he runs a travelling show, The Imaginarium. Putting himself in a trance-like state, he can make the dreams of anyone that walks through the magic mirror come to life. He is helped by his daughter, Valentina, a young man, Anton, and a man of small stature, Percy. One day they come across a man who is not in the best of situations, who they rescue. It turns out his name is Tony and he offers to help them with the show. Meanwhile, Doctor Parnassus is keeping a secret from his daughter, a secret involving the mysterious character known as Mr. Nick. Valentina will soon be sixteen and the Doctor is getting more desperate to get more people to try his show. I will leave my short summary there so as not to upset the spoiler police out there.

I always enjoy the visual spectacle of a Terry Gilliam film, he has such wonderful vision and always comes up with something both spectacular and utterly crazy at the same time. The scenes inside the Imaginarium and certain other key scenes are truly spectacular, a great feast for the eyes. Unfortunately in the real world it doesn’t work quite so well. Decent performances all round, Heath Ledger did a good job as Tony, as did Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell who all took turns with the part of Tony when he as inside the Imaginarium. Christopher Plummer was good as Doctor Parnassus and Andrew Garfield was great as Anton. Lily Cole did a fine job as Valentina and Verne Troyer was also good as Percy. Finally, a mention for Tom Waits who I thought was excellent as Mr. Nick.

I know there were problems with the production of this film, not least the loss of one of the leading men, but it did, unfortunately, fall a little short of the mark. As I’ve already said, certain parts of it are visually stunning, but this doesn’t make up for a script that was not all that great. I could follow the plot ok, but I found some of the dialogue sounded a little “off the cuff” and some of the characters were not fully developed enough. Over all though, I did quite enjoy it, and I will probably watch it again someday… Recommended for at least one viewing.

My score: 7.1/10

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