Heath Ledger’s Last Film: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

imaginarium_of_doctor_parnassus_6 Guest blogger Jess writes:

With all the hype that was originally surrounding Heath Ledger’s last film (he died before filming was complete) I was really excited to see it. Then when it wasn’t given a wide release and had trouble finding a distributor, I was worried that the movie wouldn’t be worthy of Ledger’s talent. Most actors don’t make one successful movie right after another, so it wouldn’t be fair to add the weight of it being his last film to it being the movie he made right after The Dark Knight and won the Oscar, and sadly  The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus isn’t a movie that will go down in history as topping The Dark Knight but definitely be remembered both as Ledger’s last film and because it’s a wackadoodle fantasy movie that I’m sure will find a following once people get a chance to see it.

Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) owns a traveling show staffed by his daughter, Valentina (Lily Cole), Anton (Andrew Garfield) and Percy (Verne Troyer). They try to get people to enter the Imaginarium mirror which seems to be linked to a trance Dr. Parnassus goes into and provides the entrant with a world of whatever their imagination creates. That’s the basic premise. Dr. Parnassus is immortal thanks to a deal with the devil (Mr. Nick – Tom Waits) but part of that deal will give away his daughter. They run into a stranger hanging from a bridge and attempt to save his life. He (Heath Ledger) awakes with no memory of who he is and joins their troupe and becomes incredibly good at drawing people in and they make money. It turns out Tony (Ledger) isn’t such a great guy, and eventually gets in trouble in the Imaginarium, but it all ends well for the characters you like, but it’s a trippy journey to get there.

I think the story was improved by the changes they were forced to make due to Ledger’s untimely death. Whenever Tony enters the Imaginarium he is another vision of himself played by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and in the longest sequence by Colin Farrell. However, the changes are not ignored, but incorporated into the story and make sense and add to the fantasy imagination created. It’s a really great technique that makes the Imaginarium even more powerful (and less malevolent than it seems at the beginning). Overall, I enjoyed the movie, though the trippy sequences were a little more like nightmare scenarios than imagination. And I would definitely say that the movie was overlooked for the make-up visual effects awards (though perhaps it wasn’t eligible for this year anyway). 3 of 5 stars.

Jess is a blogger who writes about movies and TV.  Thanks to an accommodating work schedule, her addiction to both is fed daily.  Enjoy reading her insights at www.insightintoenterainment.blogspot.com.