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Movie Review: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Alternate Title: The Devil Made Me Do It

Story: There is no way to write a review about this film without mentioning the fact that Heath Ledger died during the production of this latest imaginative tale by the singular writer and director, Terry Gilliam. What's a director to do? Kudos to Mr. Gilliam that he did not give up his dream. With the use of some rewriting and the generosity of Heath Ledger's friends (Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell) Gilliam was able to finish his picture.

Dr. Parnassus likes to make deals with the devil. As we all know, this is never a good idea. As they say - 'the house always wins,' right? Via a series of deals with the devil, Mr Nick, Dr Parnassus has achieved immortality, youth, the woman of his dreams and now a young daughter, who, when she reaches the age of 16 will belong to the devil. The devil is always willing to gamble with a new deal. Should Parnassus deliver him five souls in a short period of time, he will save the lovely, young daughter.

Dr. Parnassus operates a traveling Imaginarium, where, for a fee, a customer can enter a world where either his light or dark soul will prevail. This Imaginarium allows us to see Gilliam at his most creative. It is also the part of the film that was made after Heath Ledger's death. I guess you could call it, story interruptus. I was not bothered that Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell popped up periodically in the guise of Heath Ledger. The make-up and the story line was credible and that the Heath Ledger's character might appear differently through the mirror of the Imaginarium. It was just very sad and that fact was inescapable.

Should you see it? Absolutely. It is most definitely flawed and uneven but for fans of Gilliam and his amazing talent, it is a must see. Perhaps 20 years from now, this will be a cult classic and most people will not even realize that the star of the film died halfway through production.

Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFxqw0jbC2Y

Acting: Heath Ledger looked a lot older than his 28 years. He was a fine actor and will be missed. Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law all did fine jobs as the character, Tony. Christopher Plummer as Doctor Parnassus was terrific as were Andrew Garfield as Anton, Verne Troyer as Percy and the lovely young Lily Cole as Valentina. Tom Waits as the devil, Mr. Nick was perfectly cast.

Trivia: Director Terry Gilliam was born in Minnesota, he is the only non-British member of the Monty Python comedy troupe. He and John Cleese are the only members of 'Monty Python' to be nominated for Oscars. Coincidentally, they were both for Best Original Screenplay, Gilliam for Brazil (1985) and Cleese for A Fish Called Wanda (1988). Both screenplays did not win their Oscars, and both films featured Michael Palin. Gilliam gave up his US citizenship in January 2006 and is now a British citizen.

Predilection: I like Terry Gilliam.

Food: Bread, cheese and a chicken.

Sex Spectrum: None

Opening Titles: All credits at the end except for the title.

Visual Art: A visual treat for the eye.

Theater Audience: About 25 other people, none of them imaginary.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 2

Squirm Scale: It was squirmy to see Ledger's opening scene where is is hanging by the neck from a bridge.

Drift Factor: I drifted a bit in the middle.

Predictability Level: Moderate

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Probably not.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure.

Length: A bit over the two hour Lobo rule.