Terry Gilliam is the only American in the Monty Python cast and his vision has always been a bit warped by his early exposure to the British sense of humor. My favorite of his films was Time Bandits, a wonderfully odd bit of business that was funny, sad, and ultimately just weird. Over the years Terry’s films have retained their weirdness, but I have not been too impressed with them. The Brothers Grim and Tideland were just awful.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’s claim to fame is that Heath Ledger died during it’s filming. Having just been hailed as a genius for his work as The Joker, there was a small possibility that Hearth’s presence might help one of Terry’s odd films make some real money-though his presence in The Brother Grim was totally unremarkable.
Our story in Doctor Parnassus deals with the Devil and a monk who enter into a bet to see who can turn the most souls their way. It has much the same feel as The Adventures of Baron Munchausen-which is to say it deals only fleetingly with anything which we might recognize as reality. There are elaborate props and costumes, vast computer generated dreamworlds, odd bits of makeup and lighting.
If you liked Baron Munchausen, you’ll probably like Doctor Parnassus.
I liked it, but I can’t help but wonder how it would have ended if Hearth had not died. I enjoyed the bits played by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell and think they added nicely to the story. Gilliam has said that this is how the film would have ended anyway, but I can’t help think there might have been another scene or two with Hearth’s character.
It was am odd film and I enjoyed it.