Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is released on DVD and Blu-Ray in North America today–good news for those who were frustrated in their attempts to see this visionary film in theaters. Amazon.com currently has the Blu-ray version for $22.99 and the standard DVD for $17.99; both include commentary by the director, an interview with Heath Ledger, and features on the sets and artwork. Despite being nominated for two Oscars (for Art Direction and Costume Design), The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is best known for the tragedy that struck during its filming–the sudden death of leading man Heath Ledger, whose role was eventually completed by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell.
In an interview for Australian television in June 2009, Johnny Depp explained why he agreed to help revive the project. “It would have been a horror to think that Heath’s last work, which was great, would go unseen. And so, what I told Terry Gilliam was, ‘If there’s a way to do this respectfully, and you can finish your film, I’m more than happy to help.’”
Johnny added, “I wanted to, certainly, first get the blessing of Heath’s family, to make sure they were okay with it–and they were great with it, and so I feel honored to have been able to be a small part of that. For Heath.”
In an interview at the Ischia Film Festival in July 2008, director Gilliam called the actors who stepped in to finish Ledger’s role “totally heroic.” Gilliam said, “This doesn’t happen very often . . . where there’s a tragedy like this, and very famous, very successful actors suddenly say, ‘Okay, we’ll do whatever it takes to help.’ They came; they did the work; they allowed the movie to be finished; they didn’t take money–the money goes to Heath’s daughter. That’s extraordinary! And wonderful . . . and when you’re part of that, you think, ‘Ah, this is maybe why I went into the movies, in the beginning. I thought it would be full of wonderful people.’ And in our case, we’ve got a movie full of wonderful people, who did extraordinary things to help.”