After another day without success for his traveling show, Mr Nick (Tom Waits) approaches Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) to remind him that his daughter Valentina (Lily Cole) is reaching the age of 16. Mr. Nick and Doctor Parnassus had once made a bet that earned Doctor Parnassus eternal life. But when Parnassus found the love of his life, he asked Mr. Nick, the devil, to help him get the girl. In exchange, Mr. Nick tells Parnassus that he will get his first offspring by the age of 16. In the current time, Valentina is only two (2) days away from reaching her 16th birthday. Mr. Nick and Doctor Parnassus make a new bet that the first to reach 5 souls will get Valentina. As they are moving the location of the show, the crew find Tony (Heath Ledger/Colin Farrell/Jude Law/Johnny Depp) hanging from under the bridge and Doctor Parnassus believes he is the one to help him save his daughter. Is Tony the true savior of the day? or perhaps, his shady past will only bring more trouble than what Doctor Parnassus is really looking for?
Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a strange yet interesting spectacle. The movie attempts to lure viewers on a journey to the center of their imaginations. Terry Gilliam’s work is a testament to the fantasy style of filmmaking, full of striking visuals accompanied by a great score that engulfs the viewer. The film contains much of Gillian’s handiwork, as his style never fails to appear in every scene. Via visuals, Gillian spins a plot that only he can manage to introduce and elaborate in such a difficult way. Because he challenges the viewer’s imagination with a colorful world of things only thought to exist inside your head, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many viewers may feel confused and left hanging near the end. As the film winds down the plot may suffer while losing clarity. On my first watch I wasn’t entirely sure what to make out of everything; I was left wondering what the filmmaker wanted to say or even what the overall message was. It wasn’t until my second watch, and with the director commentary, that I began to grasp the grander view of the film.
With the sudden passing of lead actor Heath Ledger, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was hanging on a thin string, just short of being canceled altogether. Terry Gilliam managed to fit in three more actors of incredible acting ability: Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell. Taking in the overall performance of Heath Ledger, it will forever remain a shame he didn’t get to see his magnificent performance. Ledger’s part brought the movie together and added a little more on every scene he appeared in. This isn’t to say that the men in charge of substituting Ledger didn’t do a great job. Each one of them were in charge of the last few appearances within the imaginary world, while most of the film takes place in the real world. Each actor managed to add their personality to the character of Tony. It fit perfectly as whenever Ledger’s character, Tony, walked into the mirror his appearance changed to that of the other actors. Tom Waits does an excellent job as he managed to keep his character slippery yet likable, all the while keeping the general idea of the devil alive and well. Christopher Plummer’s performance is also worth mentioning, giving an excellent feel of the worried father and going all out to save his daughter. The rest of the cast was either a hit or miss, not necessarily impacting the film in a negative way. In my opinion, I think this is one of those movies that everyone will have a different interpretation when the credits begin rolling. You may find yourselves having similar points and ideas, but the overall message and interpretation of the entire film might be different.
If you never been exposed to Terry Gilliam’s passed work (The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Brazil, and Time Bandits) I do feel the need to warn you about this film. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus continues with strange art and vision that might leave newcomers wondering what they saw when the credits start rolling. I am sure that the film will gain the attention of many as it was Heath Ledger’s last film and performance. Despite this, one should remain wary when considering buying as the film won’t be fit for everyone. Terry Gilliam is a master at his own art and it has been a pleasure to sit through another piece of his work.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode framed at 1.85:1. This is perhaps one of the best transfers I have seen recently. Not only does it feature impressive image reproduction on the “real world” and on the “imaginary world” it manages to do it with excellent detail. The film features two different “worlds” and each has their own attributes, while the “imaginary” world has colorful features, the “real” world has more lifelike feel and look. Detailing is exceptional throughout the film, the real world features more intricate details as there isn’t much CGI effects used, but textures are incredibly visible and close up shots are fine proof of the excellent imagery. Colors are vibrant and colorful giving life to every adventure in the imaginarium. Black levels are inky and deep, but there are few scenes where they appear soft. Skin tones look very lifelike and they don’t suffer any saturation or look over done, even during the colorful scene in the imaginarium. This is fine looking Blu-ray!
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus arrives on Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. Like the video presentation the audio is top notch as well as it does justice to the type of film this is. The dialogue is reproduced without a problem throughout the film is always clean, clear and crisp. The bass is used on and off and is not as strong as most viewers would hope, but it does an excellent job providing some nice booming sounds during explosions it’s very balanced and clean. The rears are in constant use for atmospheric and ambient effects which I got to say it gives this film an excellent feel. The score sounds fantastic as well being reproduced with such fidelity it’s a pleasure to have sit through the entire film. Another awesome job by Sony!
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus features some really good supplements and obviously a few last looks into Heath Ledger before passing away. Everything included in the disc is worth a look so I strongly suggest to do so. Check below for a breakdown of the supplements.
Commentary with Terry Gilliam – This a very interesting commentary by the director Terry Gilliam in which he talks about the film’s inspirations, look, effects, and everything else surrounding production. It’s a must see for everyone!
Terry Gilliam Film Introduction – This is a quick introduction to the film.
Deleted Scene – Features a 4 minute deleted scene.
Behind the Mirror – Features cast and crew talk about their roles in the film while director Terry Gilliam talks about the film.
The Drunk Multi-Angle Progression Sequence – This is a very cool featurette that allows the viewer to see the different stages during the production of the film. The user is also able to setup a four way split screen to see four different stages at once.
The Imaginarium of Terry Gilliam – Terry Gilliam is a master at his own art and in this featurette the viewers get a closer look at how the film came to life, visuals effects, and much more.
Heath Ledger and Friends – This featurette is more aimed at how Heath Ledger’s death affected the crew.
Building the Monastery – This allows the viewers to see behind the scenes of how the construction of the Monastery came about.
Cast & Crew Presentation On Stage – This features Terry Gilliam presenting his friends on stage.
Interview With Heath Ledger – This features a 2007 radio interview from the late Heath Ledger.
Heath Ledger Wardrobe Test – This featurette gives us a glimpse of Ledger’s wardrobe tests. This includes optional commentary by Terry Gilliam.
Doctor Parnassus Around the World – This features snippets from different premiers of the film around the globe.
Artwork of Doctor Parnassus – This features Terry Gilliam sharing the artwork behind the film.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Paranassus Theatrical Trailer
BD-Live – Access more movie trailers and more information on Blu-ray online through your network connected Blu-ray player.
MovieIQ – This let’s you connect to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie!
Movie Trailers – featuring ‘Dear John’, ‘ Not the Messiah’, ‘The Young Victoria’, ‘Nine’, ‘Extraordinary Measures’, ‘Hachi: A Dog’s Tale’, ‘An Education’, ‘It Might Get Loud’, ‘Whatever Works’, ‘Coco Before Chanel’, ‘Soul Power’, ‘The Adventures of Baron Munchausen’, ‘Labyrinth’, ‘The Dark Crystal’, ‘A Single Man’, ‘The Road’, and ‘Chloe’.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus features incredible, perhaps stunning, visuals that you don’t normally see in every film. Terry Gilliam is a master of this awkward form of art, but he pulled it off thanks to a magnificent cast originally led by Heath Ledger who gave one his best performances. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is perhaps a rather difficult film to understand when you first watch, but believe it or not it’s a rather interesting different view than what you are used to. The Blu-ray features an impressive audio and an even better video presentation, packed with a good amount of supplements one would think is a no brainer. If you are a fan of Gillian’s past work then it should be an easy purchase, but if you haven’t been exposed to his work before I recommend a rent first.
The screen captures are only a small representation of what the Blu-ray looks like and are not representative of Blu-ray’s true quality.