The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

FANTASY; 2hr 2min

STARRING: Heath Ledger, Lily Cole, Christopher Plummer, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell

Chin wagon: Ledger and Cole

Fusing the fantastical with grass-roots reality, director and co-writer Terry Gilliam goes to work on the uncanny worlds of cursed impresario Dr Parnassus (Plummer). The Doctor heads a four-person theatre troupe: Cole is his 16-year-old daughter, Verne Troyer his offsider and Andrew Garfield an eager all-rounder, while a sparky Ledger — and later, Depp, Law and Farrell — plays an amnesiac who joins the gang. They rattle around today’s London in a towering wagon that is part stage and part tumbledown home.


The Doctor’s mantra is imagination. Audience participants in his mind-bending show enter a magic realm through a mirror; once within, what they discover reflects who they are. The public is indifferent. But one individual who does care is the devil (Tom Waits as Mr. Nick), with whom the Doctor made a dire bet centuries ago.


Gilliam commands a witchy, loopy Imaginarium landscape with the dazzling thrall of a blissed-out trance. And while the film itself outstays its welcome, meandering into the crazed and confused, at least it has the grace to look great in the process.