Imaginarium Hilarium   3 comments


There were plenty of pictures from the Imaginarium available on the internet, but I like women with swords, so this is the one you got.

On Sunday January 17   I went with some friends to see the movie The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. I was looking forward to it because with a title like that it had to be full of great visual treats and special effects. I knew nothing about the plot or the characters, and very little about the actors except that Heath Ledger, Johnny Dep, and Jude Law were all in it as the same character.  So, I went with an open mind, prepared for a treat.

And I got a treat–no doubt about that.  If you like gorgeous movies, you should definitely see this film. Twice.

And yet . . .  and yet . . . and yet . . . I am troubled by this movie. I’m a simple kind of troll. I like my characters simple and clear cut. But the only simple character in the movie was the Devil, superbly played by Tom Waits. And even he seemed at cross purposes with himself.

There were so many Issues in the movie I hardly know where to start. Maybe I could just list the issues that I noticed, in no particular order:

Salvation, Story, Existence, True Love, Self Indulgence, Imagination, Truth vs. Illusion, Immortality, Atonement, Magic.

I could do a whole essay on any one of these themes in the movie, but I’d have to see it again to get my facts straight. I won’t be able to manage that soon. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have a lot of free time, and there are lots of things competing for what time I do have. Maybe I’ll get to see it again when it comes to DVD.

So, let me just mention the one thing that bothered me the most. And that is that all of main characters were not only flawed, but rotten inside. Dr. Parnassus was a self-indulgent drunk. Valentina was a younger female version of him–beautiful but rotten. Tony was not only a liar, but a manipulator with only his own interests at heart. Percy was a supercilious snot. Even Anton was a whiny vindictive creep. The Devil was simply looking for another game–he didn’t want to beat Dr. Parnassus and claim his soul–he wanted to stretch out the torture and keep the game going.  There was not a single admirable character in the movie. (Maybe the horse who pulled the wagon was admirable).

I can take flawed characters. I like tales of redemption just fine. But when all the sound and fury was over, it didn’t seem to me that anyone had been redeemed. In the long run, the movie gave me many visual treats, but it did not give me what I wanted emotionally, and therefore, I think it will be a failure.

But, at least it’s different. Go see this movie. It may be hard to find. It has limited distribution. I had to go to the biggest cineplex in Phoenix to see it. But make the effort. If you have any imagination of your own, it will be worth it.


Posted January 20, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

3 responses to “Imaginarium Hilarium

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  1. It was a visual treat in places, but I was sorely dissapointed. It promised much thematically and then dissolved into a small story about small people and petty motivations. Some of the performances were sorely under-rehearsed- perhaps because of the tragic passing of Heath Ledger, but still…dearie me, I was expecting so much!



  2. Hmm.
    –Sounds about like your review of my novel. Perhaps I will like the film more than you. In any case, I had hoped to see it in the theatre and will search for it.


  3. Hmmm. I didn’t find the characters nearly that unlikeable– or at least, not all of them. Here is the vest-pocket review *I* blogged a while ago:

    “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” is a Terry Gilliam movie. It is not as not as much fun as “Time Bandits”; it is not as dreary as “Brazil”; it is not as disjointed as “Baron Munchausen”. It holds together amazingly well in spite of the extremely inconvenient death of one of the major actors. And Lily Cole is, as the script so aptly points out, scrumptious.

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