Author Topic: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus  (Read 63095 times)

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
« Reply #180 on: December 03, 2009, 01:49:58 pm »
I completely agree that seeing this film will be extra, super hard.  And, that going to a viewing with Brokies would be much, much better than going alone.  Getting through it will take a good deal of support (for a lot of Brokies) I assume.

Going to see it alone just seems unimaginably depressing to me. :(

the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie

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Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
« Reply #181 on: December 05, 2009, 12:50:28 pm »
In the words of a young friend of mine who died, "Don't mourn that it's over, rejoice that it happened at all!" We also have cause to rejoice that Heath's last work made it to film, thanks to the efforts of his friends and the crew.

Go to the movie! And know that everyone in the theater with you is a Heath fan. Maybe you'll make some new friends there? But if the idea is too upsetting, then wait for your next trip to get together with Brokies like you did with us when The Dark Knight came out.  :-*
May 2019 be better for us all.

Offline Monika

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Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
« Reply #182 on: December 05, 2009, 04:00:41 pm »
 Turns out the movie didn't open in Sweden on December 4 after all, but will open on Christmas Day. At this point I'm trying to find out where it will open. Hopefully i won't have to go all the way to Stockholm to see it.

I'm really looking forward to seeing it, although of course it will feel....immensely sad....to know it will be the last time I'll see his name up there on the big screen.
But I wanna go and see it, applaud loudly when his name appears, and pay my tribute to his last movie. There is really not much else I can do for him at this point but that. But I´m looking forward to be able to say "thank you Heath" one last time in my own small way.

Offline Penthesilea

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Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
« Reply #183 on: December 05, 2009, 04:07:07 pm »
I'm really looking forward to seeing it, although of course it will feel....immensely sad....to know it will be the last time I'll see his name up there on the big screen.
But I wanna go and see it, applaud loudly when his name appears, and pay my tribute to his last movie. There is really not much else I can do for him at this point but that. I´m looking forward to be able to say "thank you Heath" one last time in my own little way.

 :'(
 :-*

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Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
« Reply #184 on: December 06, 2009, 07:20:52 pm »
...to know it will be the last time I'll see his name up there on the big screen.


Surely you'll see Heath's films when they are shown in retrospectives and revivals over the years, and you'll probably own a selection of his firms on Blu-ray or whatever comes after it! My friends use a large piece of dry wall to make a screen for our periodic high definition showings of BBM and other films we like.
May 2019 be better for us all.

Offline Meryl

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Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
« Reply #185 on: December 10, 2009, 12:14:18 am »
A nice article with lots of pictures from the Tribeca Film Festival site:

http://www.tribecafilm.com/news-features/features/The_Imaginarium_of_Terry_Gilliam.html

The Imaginarium of Terry Gilliam

By Kristin McCracken

The visionary director discusses the challenges of making his wildly inventive The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus—in particular, the sad, sudden death of his star, Heath Ledger.

Terry Gilliam has been making movies for 40 years, with standouts like Brazil, The Fisher King, and Twelve Monkeys holding their own with Monty Python classics The Meaning of Life and Monty Python & the Quest for the Holy Grail. In his new film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Gilliam has made one of the most talked about movies of the year, chiefly owing to the fact that Parnassus is the film on which Heath Ledger was working when he suddenly passed away in early 2008.
 
That’s not to say Parnassus, which Gilliam also co-wrote (with Charles McKeown), should not be viewed, regardless, as the next logical step in Gilliam’s fantastical career. Doctor Parnassus (the inimitable Christopher Plummer) is an old-as-the-hills (and immortal) mystic who has made a deal with the devil, aka Mr. Nick (a wry and sinister Tom Waits, perfectly cast), regarding his coming-of-age daughter (the lovely model-turned-actress Lily Cole). Parnassus is the proprietor of a traveling show, transported in a ramshackle old truck throughout modern-day London; customers step through a magical mirror into spectacular worlds of their own imaginings. The alternate realities are swirling masterpieces, which take advantages of cutting-edge advances in CG imagery.
 
In a recent roundtable interview, Gilliam opened up about Ledger’s death and the subsequent accommodations he made to his film, which most notably included the casting of Jude Law, Johnny Depp, and Colin Farrell as the three alter-egos (of sorts) of Ledger’s character. He also contemplated his career’s evolution, Monty Python’s dry-and-silly legacy, and the neverending rumors around his never-dead Don Quixote project.

With a film like this, you could tinker forever. How do you know when you’re done?
 
Terry Gilliam: Because I get bored! And when the money runs out. [Laughs.] There are things I would still fiddle, but they are so minor, that they’re not worth fiddling with. You just know. It kind of comes down to: That’s as good as we can make it. People seem to still believe there might be a perfect film out there. I’ve never seen a perfect film in my life.
 
How did the new advances in technology effect you? We remember when you were doing lots of stuff with just cut paper.
 
TG: Well, that’s all it is! Some of the stuff we are doing here is the same aesthetic, except it’s 3-D. Not 3-D as in Avatar, but 3-D because we have a world that has layers. I love all that. I still use models when necessary, but it’s just mixing these various techniques. The advantage we had here was because we were not dealing in realistic worlds, the CG works really well.
 
I’ve had my own effects company since right after Holy Grail, so I know how to do all of it. The advantage of having my own company was that I could be there everyday, sitting over this guy’s shoulder, saying, “No, do it this way, do it this way.” Sometimes I just want to do it myself, and cut out the piece of paper and wiggle it around.

How much of your vision of the film changed after Heath’s passing? With the addition of Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell [as the other-side-of-the-mirror alter egos], it still seems cohesive.
 
TG: Basically, what happened was that we had shot everything on this side of the mirror [the present-day reality]. At one point, I was going to say it was co-directed by Heath, because he was [the one] creating these situations. As far as Johnny, Colin and Jude taking over, that was inherent in what we had, because it had already been [established] that when two people go to the other side of the mirror, one imagination may be stronger than the other. So the middle-aged shopping lady could be dreaming of Johnny Depp and not Heath Ledger!
 
Other than [one minor change to establish the principle that faces can change across the mirror], the dialogue, everything, is exactly as it was before. It was important to me. The scene with Princess Di, James Dean—a lot of people think it was written as a eulogy to Heath, but it was exactly what was written before he died. And that’s the advantage of it not being a studio film, because how many studios would have let me introduce Heath’s character as we do in the film? [Redacted to avoid spoilers.]

And after Heath died, Christopher Plummer didn’t want to say the line, “It could be a comedy, a romance, a tale of unforeseen death.” I said, “You have to say it. That’s the film that Heath and I were making. You don’t change these things.”

Was there anything of Heath’s that was cut? That will end up on a DVD?
 
TG: It’s all in. We didn’t throw anything away. Every bit is in there. For him to die when he did was—how could you do it so tidily—I don’t know what other word to use. He didn’t destroy the film. He somehow got all the important work of his done, and then died. It’s still a very strange experience, which I haven’t completely sorted out in my head.
 
Is that another instance of letting the film go? You were staring at him up on a screen in an editing room for more a year after he died.
 
TG: Well, that’s it. He was still alive. It was a very good way of grieving. Your friend is still up there, and [you’re saying], “Why is he doing that? Oh, Heath!” [Laughs.] You’re having dialogue with a man who’s no longer around.
 
Is that delaying the grieving, or is that part of it?
 
TG: Well, I think it’s part of it. By the end of dealing with it, it’s done. You know, the loss is still a shock, and it’s partly because it shouldn’t happen. A guy with that potential, with that kind of extraordinary talent, and just, as a human being, to suddenly not be there. It’s like, “What? This is not right.” But then, the world has never been right, so why should it change now?

Was there any discussion with the three other actors as to how they would portray this character? Because they all seemed to get the essence of the character Heath was playing.
 
TG: That was why they had to be friends of Heath—luckily, these three were able to do it. Colin, at one point, said he felt like he was channeling Heath, like he was there.
 
There was no time to rehearse—I had given them all a DVD of a few bits we had cut together of Heath, so they saw what he was doing, and off we went. We had Johnny for one day and 3 ½ hours—that’s all. That tells you a lot of things: 1, how brilliant he is, and 2, how well he understood Heath. So he just turned up, no rehearsal, and Go!

It was a very unnerving time, because none of us knew whether it was going to work or not. We just didn’t know until we got back to London and cut it together and showed the film to some people who didn’t really know the story, and they just assumed it had been written that way.
 
It seemed like it was the way it was supposed to be.
 
TG: That’s why you start believing in the movie gods [he said with an impish twinkle]. There was a movie god up there that was making this movie—he didn’t give a shit who was alive or dead at the end of it. It’s very strange how smooth it works. For me, the disturbing thing is when people say it may be a better movie for this—I can’t quite deal with that, because we don’t know what the movie would have been like. It might have been a far more dramatic, powerful movie, to see Heath carry the character all the way through. This way it might be a more entertaining film—it’s certainly a more surprising film, because you don’t know who you are going to see next.

Can you talk about the initial casting?
 
TG: I think Christopher was the first on, because who else is that age and could be a mountain of talent? We’d worked together on 12 Monkeys, and I just thought he was wonderful. And Tom [Waits] came because [we talked and] he said, “Do you have anything for me?” He didn’t know what I was doing, but I said, “Well, we just wrote this part of the devil,” and he said, “I’m in.” He didn’t read the script—he was just in.
 
Speaking of actors Christopher Plummer’s age, it recently came out that Robert Duvall might be in the Don Quixote film—

TG: —I’ve read that as well. [Laughs.]
 
Can you talk about what’s happening with that?
 
TG: Mr. Blabbermouth Duvall, you mean? [Laughs again.] Well, it’s up, and we’re getting it going again. We don’t have the money yet, but I just think he’s phenomenal. I sent him the script, and he was so excited about it. And I thought, if I can get Robert Duvall with that excitement and energy, and just childish enthusiasm… I think it will be great, because he does the tango, and I think he’s extraordinary.
 
What about Johnny Depp? Is he involved?
 
TG: He’s out. He’s too busy doing swashing and buckling and Tonto-ing.

Where does your fascination with time travel and alternate realities come from?
 
TG: It comes from reality! Isn’t that what we live in? I mean, I was in London one minute, and suddenly I’m in New York. When Concorde used to fly, I’d arrive in New York before the time it was when I left London. It’s not so much time travel as it is being able to throw yourself into time mentalities. I just don’t want to be limited by the world that’s just out here.
 
We’re beaten to death daily by whatever Fox News says the world is, and we buy some of that, and then NBC says it’s like this, and somebody else says it’s like that—we’re surrounded by various versions of the world, and I think it’s about choosing your own. So for me it’s making it as flexible—it’s a mindset, and I just want to encourage people to invent their own worlds. My films are really just studies on the borderline between reality and fantasy, and how each influences the other and dictates what the other is. I don’t know what the answers are—I just like playing in the mess.
 
So many comedians have been influenced by Monty Python. What does that mean to you?
 
TG: You’re part of a continuum, a long continuum. Think of all the comedians that influenced us, and that’s why we did what we did, and then it passes on. That’s all. I’m glad we were able to pass on certain kinds of humor that others have picked up. I never thought we were that original, I just thought we were taking what Spike Milliken and the Goons had done, the Marx Brothers stuff—it’s all there, you can trace it. We were just in the middle—like South Park, I want to take all the credit for South Park. [Laughs.]

There’s always a darkness and a twisted sense of humor to your work. Were you always this way?
 
TG: Twisted and dark? [Laughs.]
 
Well, the time you spent in England, with Monty Python, the other things you’ve gone through, the darkness you’ve experienced pursuing your art, do you think that has influenced the kinds of films you make?
 
TG: I’ve always had a dark side, because that’s what the world is, both light and dark, beautiful and horrible, and I hate missing out on any part of it. And the way I think you get through it is by having a sense of humor. I don’t know how else you deal with death and destruction and the horror that’s out there, unless you can laugh at it and find humor in it.
 
Humor to me is even more important to me now, because everyone is so frightened. Everyone is so timid about saying the wrong thing. We might offend somebody—what’s wrong with offending people? Aren’t people thick-skinned enough to take a little bit? I mean, somebody hitting me in the face, that will hurt me, and bad reviews hurt—but those are the things you learn to live with. People have become so timid, and that worries me—when you are closing the world in, and the world gets more and more crushing, and I just want to break through it.

That’s the great thing, I think, that came out of Python, that you could both be very British [adopts a formal air] and very silly—you could be very intelligent and very stupid, all at the same time. I always divided the world into those who giggled and those who didn’t.
 
I think that’s the way I can get through some of the shit I’ve been through—that I can find it funny. For example, Heath and what happened on Parnassus is, I say, a warning to all actors: You don’t turn up for work, and there are three A-list actors ready to take over your part. It’s a joke. People go, “Oooohh, how can you say that?” Well, he was my friend, that’s why I can say it. And he would have laughed as well.
 
Ich bin ein Brokie...

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Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
« Reply #186 on: December 11, 2009, 10:59:44 pm »
It was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal today! How can they tease us like this?
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Offline JennyC

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Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
« Reply #187 on: December 18, 2009, 03:32:34 pm »
Another year went by so quickly.  Hope all is well with my old friends.

--Jenny


CNN has a video/article with the director talking about making of the film.  It's a good read.  You can go here to watch the video http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Movies/12/17/terry.gilliam.interview/index.html.

The making of 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'
By Andrea Mineo, CNN
December 18, 2009 2:09 p.m. EST

New York (CNN) -- When you meet Terry Gilliam you get the feeling that you have known him all your life. Perhaps it's his easy way of communicating or his ever present laughter. When he arrived at CNN for our interview he confessed quite freely that he had consumed a few margaritas beforehand. That pleased me, since I figured Mr. Gilliam would be open to discuss anything in a more relaxed state.

Our interview wouldn't be covering the silliness of Gilliam's time with his Monty Python cohorts. The topic was Gilliam's lastest film, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus." The film is a tour de force of sorts, through the director's imagination.

The 1,000-year-old Doctor Parnassus (played by veteran actor Christopher Plummer), finds himself on a journey to undo a deal he has made with the devil.

Parnassus is a mystic, or maybe he's a charlatan traveling through modern-day London, England, with his antiquated sideshow, replete with a band of misfits and a magical mirror. He might hold the key to people's imaginations or it may all be an illusion.

The film is layered and complex. But nothing in this script could have prepared Gilliam for the the real-life plot turn that presented itself while making "Parnassus."

Nearly midway through production, one of the film's stars, Heath Ledger, died, leaving Gilliam shattered over the loss of his friend and ready to give up on the film. What took place is a Hollywood story that even Gilliam himself finds magical.

Seen "Parnassus?" Share your review

CNN was given exclusive footage from the set during the filming of "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus." Clips include all three actors who stepped in to complete Heath Ledger's role; Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell.

CNN: Who is Dr. Parnassus?

Terry Gilliam: Who is Dr. Parnassus? He's actually quite complicated. I just love the idea of somebody, some guy claiming to be ancient, that he's there to enlighten the world nobody's paying attention to. When we're working on the film and Plummer plays it and he's very dignified, his secret suspicion was that I was a con man, a fraud, and maybe the movie was a big lie. But he represents almost any artist, somebody who tries to enlighten people, have them look at the world with fresh eyes. And nobody's paying attention. That's the fate of most artists.

Everybody thinks I'm Parnassus. Let's be honest. In moments of self-pity, I feel like that.

CNN: Do you think you achieved your original vision of the film?

Gilliam: Yeah. It's not exactly what we set out to make, because of circumstances: Heath didn't last the course. Johnny, Colin and Jude came to the rescue. But the story, ideas, essence, tale are exactly what we had set up. The tale is just a little bit more bouncy.

CNN: The movie was quite an undertaking.

Gilliam: I know how to do it. I'm really good at fooling myself into thinking I can do it. That's the key. The key is self-deception and also lack of memory. If you forget about the hard time that preceded. That's rather a hubristic attitude, so I was punished. There was Heath's death. I thought "uh oh." The film gods reminded you that it's not like that. Films are difficult. Films are complicated. Films are usually worth the sacrifice, but this film wasn't worth the sacrifice [of] somebody as special as Heath. No film is worth that. Once Heath passed away from us, then the job was, "Can we make a film worthy of Heath's last movie? Can we make sure that his last works are there to be seen and enjoyed?"

I always get quite mystical about the film, a platonic ideal of the film that's up there, making itself and we are merely the hands that write. This one, it wasn't just the film, a whole gang of film gods up there involved in this one.

CNN: How did Heath come to be part of the film?

Gilliam: We were really close. After "Brothers Grimm," we were buddies. He just had all the qualities being an actor and friend. So after "Brokeback Mountain," he went through a bad year. I think the experience, the publicity for the Academy Awards was too much for him and not who he wanted to be. And he went through a strange year.

I'd thrown some scripts at him and was getting confused answers. So I'd stayed back. He was always interested in whatever I was doing, so he read Parnassus, and I had never asked him to do it. And he was in London working on the Joker, and at the same time he was working on a music video that he had written.

They were designing animation and they needed a place to work, so I put him to work in my effects company. We had a space there and they were happily working. One day, I was showing my special effect boys and talking through the scenes, and Heath slips me this little note saying, "Can I play Tony?" And I said, "Are you serious?" He said, "Yes, I want to see this movie." And the irony is that the only person who doesn't have the chance to watch this movie is Heath Ledger.

CNN: I didn't want him to stop being in the film. Talk to me about that quality.

Gilliam: Some people have seen the film, even though they know the circumstances. They said they were transported by the film, and they forgot the story of how it was made and Heath's death. Some people say, "He's just an actor. We're just watching a movie." Other people, they think about Heath and the tale of the making of the film. The entrance of Tony is a difficult scene if you're thinking of the tragedy of Heath Ledger. On the other hand, Heath's energy and spirit infuses the thing. He was playful. He's never not in the film. Colin swore he was channeling Heath at a certain point. His presence was there. He created such a chameleon character in the scenes he had done. He can be anything. The transition from Johnny, Colin and Jude work well because you think that's another aspect of his character. He can be anything you'd want him to be.

CNN: Why did you quickly become his friend?

Gilliam: I was attracted to his talent. Talent is a special thing, and when somebody has got so much, you're just fascinated. How does he do it? He just could do it. He did it effortlessly. As a human being, he was utterly generous. He was inquisitive, he was learning. He was a guy who was improving his craft as an actor. He wanted to be a film director. He wanted to write a screenplay. He had this endless energy, taking in the world and learning. Smart as a whip. Great fun and everybody recognized an old soul there. He had an experience way beyond his years. It was impossible. My joke is "He didn't die young at all, he was a couple hundred years old when he died."

CNN: Can you tell me how you felt when you heard Heath had died?

Gilliam: I don't want to talk about it too much. It was the most devastating moment I've experienced. I was a finished guy. I surrounded myself with people who don't like me, who don't respect me and who don't listen to my every word. And they kicked me until I got up off my back. I imagined we could finish the film.

I've worked with a lot of great people and luckily we remained friends. So one of the people I called was Johnny Depp, because I introduced him to Heath and they had become very close. I was commiserating with Johnny and said, "I think the film's over. I'm going home." And he said "Whatever you decide to do, I'll be there." And that's a heartening statement. That is the beginning of the process of re-imagining the film. It was quite easy to rewrite it. All the premises were there. The ideas were all there. The first scene when Johnny goes through the mirror and his face changes.That establishes the principle very clearly and the rest fell well into place.

CNN: Was it a delicate dance to get Johnny Depp?

Gilliam: No, it was the easiest thing on the planet. I was calling on friends of Heath. Several actors were tied up because they were shooting. But Colin Farrell and Jude Law were available, and Johnny said he'd be there.

The difficulty with Johnny was he was preparing Michael Mann's film, "Public Enemy." It was only the 11th hour when Michael's film was delayed by one week and Johnny was there. He was there for a day and 3½ hours. The guy's a genius. He just did it. No rehearsal. Jude and Colin, same thing. They just got in there and got to work. They're brilliant.

CNN: Was this the most pressure you have felt in your career as a director?

Gilliam: The pressure was a simple one: Are we able to make the film worthy of Heath's last film? That was a terrible pressure. This was a really heavy responsibility. And the great joy is we did it. It was such a great relief when we finally cut the film together and showed it to a couple of people. They assumed it had been written to be done as [it has] been done. Now the film is seamless.

CNN: Do you think this was fitting as Heath's last film, opposed to "The Dark Knight"?

Gilliam: I don't know. I can't quantify that. There's no fitting to be the last film of anybody. People go on about Joker because it was a wonderful performance. It was a spectacular performance. It's a showstopper. What you're seeing here is more Heath than in any other film. The real Heath.

CNN: When this was completed, were you completely drained?

Gilliam: No, I was just relieved. I couldn't wait to get the film out of my system. It's still stuck inside. Now I'm dealing with the afterbirth. This is the placenta and what do you do with it? There are still chords around my neck. I thought I had given birth and can now walk away. Now I have to go around and tell the world to treat my child kindly. Learn to love it. It's yours.

CNN: The fact that these three actors came to finish the role that Heath began, there's a beauty to it.

Gilliam: It's a testament to how much Heath was loved and respected. To get three great actors to come in, take over and finish a movie for Heath. It just doesn't happen in the movies. It's beyond these movie things. Both the tragedy and the magical solution. This isn't what movie is all about. To me, it's what life should be about. The dreamers should be dreaming. It's about love and all these things.

In a way, I'm delighted that this is more than a movie. On the other hand, I don't want people to go and feel they have to experience it as something more than a movie. It's what the acting community is all about. The business we're in is a wonderful world. Most of them are not wonderful. Most of them are miserable and difficult. And occasionally, something like this comes along. Everybody responds in the most wondrous ways to the tragedy of this scale. It almost gives me hope for humanity for a week or two.

CNN: Do you think there will always be heartbreak tied to this film for you?

Gilliam: I don't know. Some things you grow out of, some things you don't. It is what it is.

CNN: Sitting here with you, I think that you are an optimistic person?

Gilliam: You're given a choice: Do you give in and despair or not? Depression is one thing. I'm depressed most of the time. Despair is a whole different animal. So I'm not sure if I'm optimistic, but you keep doing things you're here to do. I'm pretty good at making films, and if I wasn't making films, what should I do? I think the film is beautiful and I think it's wonderful. I'm proud to be involved in it. If I hadn't been in a lot of difficult times before, I might have not been able to do it. It's a combination of a lot of people responding to tragedy and not letting the tragedy win. That's pretty extraordinary, so once in a lifetime you do one of these films. Maybe once in many people's lifetime.

Offline MilAn

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Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
« Reply #188 on: December 19, 2009, 09:01:46 am »
Quote
Washington: Johnny Depp has said he's privileged to play the role originally meant for Heath Ledger in new movie The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.

Ledger had passed away due to an accidental drug overdose in January 2008, halfway through the filming.

"Though the circumstances of my involvement are extremely heartrending and unbelievably sad, I feel privileged to have been asked aboard to stand in on behalf of dear Heath...," Contactmusic quoted him as telling Moviefone.com.

He added: "He was the only player out there breathing heavy down the back of every established actor's neck with a thundering and ungovernable talent that came up on you quick, hissing rather mischievously with that cheeky grin, 'Hey... get on out of my way boys, I'm coming through!' And does he ever!"

An ensemble cast of Jude Law, Colin Farrell and Depp has filled in Ledger's shoes for the film

http://www.dnaindia.com/entertainment/report_johnny-depp-privileged-to-replace-heath-ledger-in-new-film_1325036

Offline Meryl

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Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
« Reply #189 on: December 22, 2009, 12:34:53 am »
I saw the movie today!  There was a screening for the actors' union, and a friend invited me.

I think it's quite good.  It's hard to be objective, of course, because all I could do was watch Heath and try to absorb every molecule of him.  The rest of the actors are very well cast, and they all do a good job, especially Christopher Plummer who really gives the impression that he's a thousand years old.  Tom Waits as the Devil is fun, and Lily Cole is a better actress than I expected.  I loved Vern Troyer, too.  There's another young actor in the troupe I hadn't read about, Andrew Garfield, and he's good, too.

The star of the movie is Gilliam, though.  The sets are great, especially the funky, ancient, accordion-like horse-drawn wagon the company travels around in.  The concept is cool.  When people go through a certain portal, they enter into the mind of Dr. Parnassus as he's meditating, and their imaginations determine what they see.  Wild, vast, beautiful, fantastic and horrifying images abound.  The effects are great.  It's not a movie that's going to be a big hit, but it's not overly obscure or flawed either, something I think we were all afraid of.  Audiences will enjoy it.

The story unfolds at a leisurely pace (Heath doesn't appear for at least 15 minutes) and involves a wager between Parnassus and the Devil.  Heath's appearance kind of shakes things up, and he helps Parnassus in the end.  However, certain questions about his character are never answered clearly, which may be a result of Gilliam's having to rewrite.  But for the most part, it works well having Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Ferrell each take over a sequence in the Imaginarium.  I longed for (in vain) one last scene with Heath at the end, though, to tie up all the strings. 

Some Heath spoilers (select the text to make it show up):

It's creepy that he's found "dead," hanging from a bridge.  In what seems an interminable sequence, his limp body is pulled up and stuffed into the wagon.  (It turns out he was hung there by mobsters who had been using a charity he ran to launder their dirty money.  He survives by swallowing a whistle that keeps his windpipe from being crushed.  This theme is repeated several times with his alter ego characters).  When he's revived, and the whistle flies out of his throat and he starts breathing again, all you can think is, oh if only we could bring Heath back like that!

It's so ironic his last film has so many references to death and eternity.  There's one chilling sequence where Johnny Depp as Tony shows a woman three funeral barges floating down a river with portraits of James Dean, Princess Diana and someone else (Marilyn Monroe, maybe) and tells her how they'll never get old and will always be beautiful.

The things that bring tears to your eyes are the expressions that are pure Ennis.  He grunts and groans just like Ennis, and there's one place where he's lying on the ground that's really similar to when the trucker is beating him and another that reminded me of his snow dance outside the pup tent.  His eyes are very alive and expressive, and he speaks in a Cockney-type accent.  His energy is so focussed and sharp, it's hard to believe he was suffering from sleep deprivation and walking pneumonia during the shooting.

At the beginning of the film it says "A Film from Heath Ledger and Friends."  It's dedicated to Heath and some other man who passed away that was involved in the film.  In the thank-you's, the "Family of Heath Ledger" is listed.

Peace, Heath.  You blessed us with the time you were able to give us.  In the end, this film will only be remembered because it was your last.  I'm glad it was different and beautiful and cool, just like you.



Ich bin ein Brokie...