Yes! Thank God Terry Gilliam is back to making a Terry Gilliam movie! After making the un-Gilliam like Brothers Grimm and the interesting but flawed Tideland, Gilliam has finally decided to take a page from his old hand book and make a movie that is in the same vein as Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchasen. Although not as good as the former two, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is still an interesting film that deserves to be considered along with Gilliam's other great films.
Co-written with Charles McKewon (Gilliam's co-writer from his classic Brazil) Imaginarium tells the story of Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) who in exchange for his magical powers promised the Devil (a wonderfully over-the-top Tom Waits) his daughter at the age of 16. Although the deadline is fast approaching, Parnassus strikes a deal with the Devil: if Parnassus is the first to get five souls, then he may keep his daugther, if not then the Devil wins her. Enter into this set up is Tony (Heath Ledger in his final role) a mysterious stranger who decides to help Parnassus, although his motives may not be clear.
Along with breathtaking visuals which audiences have come to expect from a Terry Gilliam film, the film can also be interpreted as a metaphor of film making: Parnassus is Gilliam himself, a man in charge of creating dreams; the Devil represents Hollywood, who is trying to bring Parnassus under his control; Tony represents the critic or supporter who is trying to get Parnassus to not back down.
Although this metaphor is just an interpretation, this interpretation is even more likely considering the obstacles Gilliam has faced time and time again in his career (such as the studio handling of Brazil and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; and the extreme box office failure of Baron Munchasen.) Through this interpretation it could also be seen that this is Gilliam's artistic testament, one where an artist must always put his feelings and emotions into his work instead of conforming to the ways of the public.
Most of you however will probably see this movie due to the fact that it is Heath Ledger's final role, and although Ledger does a fine job in his part, I implore you as a viewer to look at the big picture of the film: what does the film say about art, creation and emotion? In the words of Parnassus: the path is not easy, but if you persevere, you will succeed!
Final Rating: * * * 1/2 out of * * * *