Filmspiration – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Categories Articles, Filmspiration

Here’s another inspiring visual session conceived by the master of fantasy – or the mad scientist of cinema, however you like to call Terry Gilliam. Update: Iulia’s review was picked up by the official support site of the movie. Thanks guys!



No matter how giddy, his films are thrilling because he doesn’t look at his creations with the superior glance of an author, but with a deep respect and, most of all, liberated by the rational logic chains. For him creation equals madness – not in the pathological but in the cultural sense – his overturned order is sublime.

Each of his films are like a trip behind a painting and with “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” he enriches his gallery with an extravagant exhibit – a little bit malefic, a little bit chaotic, but overwhelmingly human. He melts here the visual style of the early Monty Python animations, or The Adventures of Baron Muchausen, adds a little of his obsession with Ernst and Magritte, the touch of carnival atmosphere we can find in commedia dell’arte, and his fascinating passion for mechanisms. Although you can have the feeling that this films lacks a plot, never mind – this celebration of the fantasy is very enjoyable! Gilliam himself seemed to act with the enthusiasm of a kid (a mad one, for sure:) when playing with this devilish toy and you just don’t realize when you make the deal with it – just like Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) made the deal with the devilish Tom Waits.

The director, who is also a co-writer, seems to produce a reflexive work which sums up a lot of questions about the nature of the creators: are they dual beings, humble human beings who tend to immortality through their gift to tell stories? Are they sinners who can hurt the loved ones because of their expanded ego? Are they manipulators who tend to multiply our souls through their fiction or the mirror which shows the truth within ourselves? The multiplication of Heath Ledger’s character with performances from Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law becomes thus an advantage and a very beautiful metaphor of this immersion into the land of imagination. It’s just pure pleasure!

Short Movies

Storytime (1964)

Dancing Teeth

Iulia divides her time between writing about film & performing arts and teaching theatre studies. When she’s not traveling or taking notes at some festival, she loves to share her cultural passementeries on inspiring magazines.

  • nice review..

  • It’s interesting we are reviewing the same films…Maybe only those films worth it? Anyway, I’d like to add “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” is also about magnificent human ability to imagine and to tell. Film’s narration gets different features: from the axiom that narration force the world to rotate to the thought that telling is simply fun thing.

  • I prefer to think of Gilliam as the mad scientist, it makes it more exciting.

    Thanks for the great review…

  • Great review, I checked a bunch of other ones and was still left wondering if I should check it out or not, thanks for yours I know what to do! :)