The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus | Chicago Reader

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Rated PG-13 122 minutes 2010

What a troublesome filmmaker Terry Gilliam is: his vision is unique, yet the same feverish imagination that makes his movies so engrossing threatens constantly to mushroom out of control. With his reputation (deserved or not) as a runaway director, Gilliam has reached a point where the struggle to get each film made becomes a subtext more interesting than the film itself. That's certainly the case with this 2009 fantasy, about a traveling theater troupe whose proprietor (Christopher Plummer) is a thousand-year-old mystic locked in a deal with the devil. Heath Ledger, playing a mysterious stranger who joins the company, died in the middle of filming; rather than scuttle the project or recast the role, Gilliam turned the latter half of the movie into a journey through the looking glass in which Ledger's character is taken over by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell. The behind-the-scenes tragedy gives Gilliam an easy excuse for the dull chaos that engulfs the story, but he might have generated it all on his own.

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Terry Gilliam

Producer: Amy Gilliam, Samuel Hadida, William Vince, Terry Gilliam, David Valleau and Victor Hadida

Cast: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Verne Troyer, Andrew Garfield, Lily Cole, Tom Waits, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, Peter Stormare, Maggie Steed, Mark Benton, Simon Day, Paloma Faith, Richard Riddell, Montserrat Lombard and Moya Brady

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