- If it wasn’t already clear with his twin disappointments 2005 (no matter what redeeming qualities Tideland has it is hard to say it isn’t a disappointment)—The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus confirms that the Gilliam from the 1980’s and 1990’s isn’t coming back. The run he had from 1985-1998 (from Brazil to Fear and Loathing that’s MP, MS, MS, MS, MS) is over and his best work is behind. And that’s ok—that happens- this is still clearly inspired auteur cinema (this is his first original source material in years)- even if it doesn’t fully land. Imagination, surrealism vs. reality
- It also confirms Gilliam being just snakebiten when it comes to production issues- this is Heath Ledger’s last film, he tragically died at the age of 28 before it was complete. He’s the lead actor- so Gilliam had to rework the story (with the help of Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell as stand-ins)
- Great opening shot—low-angle of the two homeless men sleeping on the ground—Gilliam’s trademark work with camera angles right from the get-go.
- On-stage design and expressionism—like Georges Méliès and for Gilliam that theatrical aspect harkening back to Baron Munchausen
- The pattern in the visual design quality here is that the natural set design work is splendid (like the sea of glass bottles scene, Gilliam’s trademark hoarder’s art, or garbage art) and that the special effects are weak. It is certainly one of the main reasons this is a much lesser effort in comparison with Baron Munchausen. It did deserve the Academy nomination for art direction and costume work- great world-building and décor.
- A great shot that looks like a Dali painting—Gilliam based many of the sets and scenes on famous paintings
- The cast is so talented- I mentioned Ledger and the stand-ins but Andrew Garfield is really good, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits (Plummer and Waits make up the left and right shoulder as the story is basically lifted from Faust—it is a “wager with the devil”)—but the writing is pretty pedestrian for the most part. There are more than a few throwaway scenes, and it is just messy- at times it looks like good actors doing bad improv.
- I do like the “where are we?” and the “geographically, socially and narratively” tongue in cheek response.
- Like almost all of Gilliam’s work- he works with a little person as part of the cast — Verne Troyer. Certainly a trademark of Gilliam’s work
- I think the film plays better now than it did in 2009 because we miss Terry Gilliam (and even a B-side Gilliam is still better than most of what’s out there) and in the wake of The Dark Knight in 2008 our expectations for Ledger in this final role were out of whack. He’s ok here- but it is nothing like his work the previous year
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 2009
Any recommendations for singular directors or movies with world building as unique as Gilliam and/or Brazil?
I apologise for my bad grammar, spelling and punctuation. It doesn’t look neat or sound cohesive. I was typing in a hurry.
@Azman- how about Greenaway? Or Hayao Miyazaki?
Interesting. Any individual movies you’d recommend like this?
Im sorry for being annoying and asking so many questions haha.
It’s no big deal but there are two mistakes in the 3rd line in the first paragraph.He should be run and 19980 should be 1990.Also in the 4th line Gilliam started with a MP that is Brazil.Just helping out so the page becomes better.
@Malith– than you- much appreciated. Should be fixed
What is the better film Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus(2009) or Tideland(2005)?
@Malith- I have Imaginarium ahead but I have them essentially tied
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