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The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus (4 stars)

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The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus

Terry Gilliam has pulled a rabbit from his mad hat with his latest, a lively if flawed fantasy that looks set to reward him with one of his biggest hits. Notorious for having been interrupted by the death of Heath Ledger, the film only saw the light of day once the late actor’s friends Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law stepped in. What could have been a mess now stands as a fascinating tribute to both its late star and the director’s determination to honour his memory.

The story is utterly Gilliam-esque, focusing on immortal carnival owner Dr Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) as he enters a wager with the devil to save the life of his daughter before the latter collects her soul in return for granting him eternal life. Ledger plays Tony, a charity owner of dubious character who has been saved from the hangman’s noose, and who may offer Parnassus the unlikeliest of aids.

Given the trauma surrounding its creation, Gilliam’s film offers an enthralling morality tale that’s full of the director’s trademark visual panache as well as strong performances. It unravels towards the end but is generally a return to the type of form the director showed with Brazil and The Fisher King.

(12A) 122min. General release from Fri 16 Oct.

The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus trailer

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

  • 4 stars
  • 2009
  • US
  • 122 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Terry Gilliam
  • Written by: Terry Gilliam, Charles McKeown
  • Cast: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Verne Troyer, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield, Tom Waits, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law

After Ledger's death, the film only saw the light of day once Depp, Law and Colin Farrell stepped in. The typically Gilliam-esque story focuses on immortal carnival owner Dr Parnassus (Plummer) as he enters a wager with the Devil and, given the trauma surrounding it, is a return to form for the director: an enthralling…

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