Sunday, February 6, 2011

Directed by Terry Gilliam
Starring Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield, Verne Troyer, Tom Waits, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, Peter Stormare

Let's be brutally honest here and say that this film would never have gotten the attention it did if it wasn't for the untimely departure of it's leading man. A modern The Crow-syndrome if you will. Of course, then again media attention has never been and will never be a measure of a good motion picture. The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus received extra press but people still weren't too interested, most likely because the film is quite heavy.

 Dr. Parnassus (Plummer) travels the modern day Britain with his mobile theatre and offers people access to his "Imaginarium". Behind the scenes it's a different story though, since he's made a vager with the devil himself (Waits) and the price is nothing less than the soul of the beautiful Valentina (Cole) travelling among the crew. Along comes Tony (Ledger), a mysterious stranger who helps Parnassus turn his theatre into a success.

 Gilliam has never been a favorite for large audiences and to tell you the truth, his films thus have hardly been accessible with perhaps the exception of The Fisher King (1991), 12 Monkeys (1995) and The Brothers Grimm (2005). Parnassus, again, is anything but easily accessible. It's immersed in the crazy fantasy world of the Imaginarium (in which the character of Tony changes appearance due to Ledger's demise and his character is also played by Depp, Law and Farrell who all donated their fees from the picture to Ledger's daughter, Matilda) and is stretched very far at times. Still, when you consider the amount of work and sacrifice that went into this film, it's nice to find out that it wasn't for nothing because the finished picture is solid, although uneven towards the third reel. I wasn't previously aware that Andrew Garfield was in Parnassus, but since that is the case, I now got the first chance to see the man in action before seeing him in The Social Network (2010) and the Spider-Man (2012) reboot which is being filmed now. He is comfortable in front of the camera and I think we can expect great things in the future.

The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus on ohjaaja (ja Monty Pythonistakin tutun) Terry Gilliamin paluu Paroni Von Munchausenin Seikkailujen (1988) kaltaisen fantasian pariin. Olihan tässä välissä toki Grimmin Veljekset (2005), mutta tuossa leffassa ei kumminkaan päästy täysillä irrottelemaan mielikuvituksen syövereihin, toisin kuin nyt Parnassuksessa. Halusi tai ei, leffan väistämätön vetovoima on Ledgerin kuolema ja sen aiheuttamat mutkat tuotannossa, joita on paikkailtu Deppin, Law'n ja Farrellin suorituksilla samaisessa Tonyn roolissa. Vaikka Leffa onkin hienoa katseltavaa Gilliamille tyypilliseen tapaan, se silti joutuu pinnistelemään aikalailla kolmannessa kelassa pitääkseen narut käsissä, mutta onnistuu siinä silti ihan kivasti ja sallittakoon tuo, koska olosuhteet ovat pakottaneet kaverit ajattelemaan kovin luovasti laatikon ulkopuolelta. Kevyenä popcorn-viihteenä tätä ei voi pitää, mutta pohdinnan iltapalana kylläkin.

The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus at IMDb