An imaginative world of myth and metaphor

2010-06-12 08:54

Be warned. You have to be a Terry ­Gilliam fan to get this film.

Gilliam is one of the members of the pioneering comedy group Monty Python.


­writing and directing credits include Brazil, The Adventures of Baron

Munchausen, Time Bandits, The Fisher King, 12 Monkeys and The Brothers


He is also one of a select few directors who can effortlessly

finish a film after the death of his lead actor.

Heath Ledger died during

filming, which ­probably gave the film extra publicity.

Instead of scrapping it,

the convoluted mind of Gilliam conceived a way to complete it by using three

other actors to represent Ledger’s Tony – Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin


The film follows the fortunes of ­immortal travelling entertainer

Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), his daughter Valentina (Lily Cole) and

the man who changes their fortunes, Tony (Ledger).

Doctor Parnassus is able to

allow people into his mind to access their wildest dreams and desires.

 But there

is a dark secret there too. His ­immortality is thanks to a deal with the devil

– who returns to collect.

The payment is Valentina. In a last-ditch ­effort to

save his child, Parnassus offers to capture five souls for the devil.

With the

help of the slippery Tony, Parnassus looks like he may just defeat


Though the story is complicated and more than a little wacky, the

wonder lies in the glimpse it offers of the imagination of the director and


Law, Depp and Farrell all pay tribute to Ledger with their


Though the faces are different, the character behind them is the

same – the sweet-talking charlatan Tony.

This second collaboration between Gilliam and Ledger – the first

being the wickedly funny Brothers Grimm – suffers from an abundance of metaphors

and ideas with no fixed point to order them.

For fans though, it’s a crazy romp

through an imaginary world.

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