THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS premieres at the Cannes Film Festival

Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Heath Ledger’s final film, had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 22, where it screened out of competition. None of the actors who stepped in to complete Ledger’s role–Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell–were present at Cannes; Johnny was in Puerto Rico, working on The Rum Diary. Critical reaction to the film is mixed; while nearly all reviewers found it visually impressive, some critics found the story disjointed and difficult to follow.

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times loved the movie: “A tale of good and evil battling for souls that’s made with Gilliam’s fantastic and fantastical visual imagination, Imaginarium is the director’s best, most entertaining film in years,” writes Turan. The critic for Total Film was less delighted: “Heath Ledger’s final film has screened at Cannes–and sad to say, it’s not the strongest swansong you could hope for. [. . .] The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus casts the late actor in a shady, slippery role that gives him only intermittent chance to shine,” writes Total Film. “But then this isn’t so much an actors’ movie, the biggest success being art direction that conjures memorable flights of fancy in the face of a clearly limited FX budget.”

Director Terry Gilliam deserves praise for having finished the film under exceptionally difficult circumstances and bringing the work to the public. Allan Hunter of Screen Daily writes, “Terry Gilliam has always seemed like the last apostle of unfettered fantasy in an age insistent on prosaic reality. The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus is a typically staunch defence of the transformative power of the imagination and its ability to change the world.”

The Zone thanks Emma and Mrs Pink for sharing reviews of the film; you can read more on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

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