Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +1

Content: -3

Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Andrew Garfield, Lily Cole, and guess appearances by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Ferrell. Written by Terry Gilliam, Charles McKeown. Directed by Terry Gilliam. Sci-Fi action adventure.

FILM SYNOPSIS: This fantastical morality tale is set in the present-day, concerning Dr. Parnassus and his extraordinary 'Imaginarium', a traveling show where members of the audience get an irresistible opportunity to choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom.

Parnassus is a 1000 years old, having made a deal with the Devil to live eternally in exchange for the old manís daughter when she turns sixteen. I guess the old dude married late, because wouldnít you know, as our story opens, itís sweet sixteen time for his now beloved daughter. Kind of a strange bet, but then, perhaps itís a moral warning. Havenít we all made choices that now seem absurd and tragic? Well, along comes a young man found hanging from the neck off a bridge. The traveling troupe cut him down and he seems grateful. But heís not all he seems. Is he a scallywag? Could be.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Though director Gilliamís name is synonymous with the phrase ďvisual imaginationĒ (Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), too many people, yours included, walk out of his films either bored or confused. Occasionally, Mr. Gilliam has shown emotional sensitivity (The Fisher King), but too frequently, he relies on the odd and the bizarre as points of contact (The Brothers Grimm, and this one). He does challenge the viewer with his nonlinear, visceral technique, but overall, Gilliam seems more taken with indulgent style than meaningful substance.

I do appreciate a filmmaker trying to stimulate the imagination, and hats off to the creative way Gilliam attempted to save his film after the untimely death of his leading actor. Depp, Law and Ferrell step in to play Ledgerís role in an alternate universe that lies within a mirror that graces center stage of the traveling carney wagon. When Ledger steps inside the magic mirror, he becomes one of these other actors and is suddenly transported to a dream-like/nightmarish kingdom reserved for the likes of Baron Munchausen. Regrettably, my feeling is this fantastical effort is more miss than hit. Thereís an inescapable feeling of desperation, from the filmmaker as well as his cast of characters as the dark allegory lethargically moves on. Though Iím sure he sees his effort as a moral about redemption, but its theme is vague and we are left with an image that seems to imply how fun it is to play games with Satan, as if man alone could defeat the devil.

DVD Alternative: Beauty and the Beast (1946 French version with Jean Cocteau). In order to save her father, a beautiful girl agrees to live with a feared wolf-like beast. But after time passes, they learn to love one another. This moody, atmospheric B&W rendition of the classic tale is a masterpiece. In French, with subtitles, it is both beguiling and fanciful. Or try the Disney animated musical version. This Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to be nominated Best Film by the Motion Picture Academy.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Sony Pictures Classics

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: Several minor expletives, as well as seven or so obscenities, mostly the s-word.

Profanity: The devil profanes Godís name once, other characters misuse Christís name a couple of times.

Violence: A few fight scenes; we see a man hanging to death a couple of times; other violent imagery is seen.

Sex: A couple of sexual discussions

Nudity: The teen girl is seen on stage sans clothing, a long wig covering certain areas of her body.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: The teen girl is seen smoking, as do other characters; thereís a great deal of drinking, mainly by characters trying to escape their frustration and depression.

Other: God is never mentioned, except as a curse.

Running Time: 122 minutes
Intended Audience: Older Teens and Adults

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