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The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

I had no idea what this movie was about. I didn't know it was directed by Terry Gilliam. Nor did I know this was the last movie in which the late great Heath Ledger acted and Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell stepped in to play his role after he died.  Netflix categorized the film as fantasy/science fiction, so I  stuck it in the queue for the husband. I'm glad I did.

The movie is stunning. I can't think of any other word for it. The story, the acting, the direction, the scenery, the camera work, everything about it is incredible. The storyline is simple, yet intricate: Dr. Parnassus makes a deal with the devil for immortality. Flash forward a thousand or so years, the man falls in love. He makes another deal with the devil so that the woman will fall in love with him. The catch: Should Dr. Parnassus have a child, the child becomes the devil's when she turns 16. Just before her birthday, Dr. Parnassus tries to make deals with the devil to change his mind. How Gilliam presents that plot is amazing. There is a lot of interweaving of the past and present as well as of reality and the fantasy world behind a carnival mirror. Sometimes it was hard for me to distinguish which side was reality.

Christopher Plummer plays Dr. Parnassus. It's the first time I ever saw him play a drunken, down-in-the-dumps character.  He was a far cry from Captain von Trapp in "The Sound of Music." Heath Ledger portrayed Tony as a dark character who gives a sense of hope to Dr. Parnassus and his troupe. And, yes, Depp, Law, and Farrell were believable as Ledger's character when it was each their turn to play Tony in the fantasy world.

After seeing this movie, I now understand a bit more of the breadth of  Heath Ledger's talent. I am so sorry that he died. Depp, Law, and Farrell were all friends of Ledger, according to what I've been reading. They volunteered to play Ledge's character for Gilliam, and then donated all their earnings from the movie to Ledger's daughter. Their selflessness act, too, was stunning.


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