Inside The Mind of Doctor Gilliam
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a beautifully confusing story from the minds of Academy Award winning writing partnership of Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown. If not however for the tragic death of Heath ledger during filming, this is a film which may have passed unnoticed by most movie goers in 2009. Never quite sure of what kind of story it want’s to be The Imaginarium moves between being a romance, a coming of age story and a moral tale, all set on the streets of London and within the fantastical mind of Doctor Parnassus himself.
The film tells the story of Doctor Parnassus (Plummer), who we are told is part of a monastic order who believe that their tales are keeping the world in existence. Upon meeting his soon to be nemesis, Mr. Nick (Waits), Parnassus is taken from the monastery, given immortality and takes up the calling of saving soles through the use of the Imaginarium. Now centuries later we find his young daughter, Valentina (Cole), who is turning 16, trying to get free of the street performers life offered by her father. She tries to convince fellow performer Anton (Garfield) to run away with her. Despite being in love with Valentina he is unable to leave the show, and the magic of Doctor Parnassus. Valentina seems to be trapped with her father until she and Anton rescue Tony (Ledger) who they find hanging from a bridge across the river Thames. In Tony Valentina sees hope for her escape from the performing life. It soon becomes apparent however that there are many things about Tony which he is not sharing.