Upon first glance, I’m sure that the title above means nothing to you (unless you’re a film dork like myself). But allow your trustee DailyDale correspondent to fill you in. The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is currently the most talked about and controversial film coming out of Hollywood right now. The reason for the controversy is two-fold: First, the films protagonist, Tony, is played by Heath Ledger. As we all know, Heath suffered an untimely and mysterious death last summer right around the time the Dark Knight was released, making his Joker interpretation all the more creepy. He was in the middle of filming this movie (Parnassus) when he passed. This my friends, is called a dilemma. So, wild and whacky Terry Gilliam, who’s responsible for celluloid trips (weird movies) such as Brazil, 12 Monkeys, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas just happens to be Parnassus’s director and co-writer. Long story short? This pretentious bastard decided it would work to show the audience multiple sides of the character, and use a different actor for each “side”. Thus, the film employs four different actors to play the same guy. Gillaim claims this works perfectly as art and for the story’s sake, everyone else smells a dead-actor cover-up.
That my friends, is just the first reason why this movie is causing so much controversy. By the way, when I say controversy what I mean is that now that this film has been made and edited, no distributor in the United States wants to touch it. But why you ask? Wouldn’t everyone be rushing to see Heath’s final film? Won’t that be the number one selling point, that this is Heath Ledger’s last body of work, and thus every distributor should be lining up for it like they did for The Dark Knight? Normally, yes. That should be the case. But, and boy is this a big, fat, Oprah BUT, but what if i told you that the first time you see “Tony” (the Heath character) in this movie he’s hanging by his neck from a noose attached to the London Bridge? Would that be a creepy image to give audiences, perhaps a little too much, when the last time this man was making headlines it was for his death which could have been a suicide? This would be like if Michael Jackson was in the middle of recording an album when he died, and the album came out today with the title track called “If I die from too many pharmaceuticals”. Creeeeeeppppyyyyyyy.
So here’s what we have: A Terry Gillam directed movie (always a gamble to begin with) where the lead actor who died mid shoot is seen hanging from a noose in the first scene, and throughout the rest of the movie is replaced with three alter-egos played by Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law. So hey, at least Gillaim picked inexpensive actors!!! (Why do the alter-egos have to be sexy? Couldnt they have casted Andy Dick or Philip Seymour Hoffman? I don’t think my alter-ego is 6’3, blonde with a six-pack)
Anyway, perhaps now you can understand why no distributor in their right mind wants to touch this gamble. But, the fact remains that Heath Ledger was an unbelievably talented, dedicated and versatile actor. For that reason alone I think this movie deserves to be seen. If Parnassus never gets released, Heath’s lasting body of work would be a nut-job clown who makes me shit my pants whenever he opens his mouth. Word on the street is “Tony” in The Imaginarium is a human character with human emotions and someone to identify with. I’d like to see one more of those roles with Heath, I sure as hell identified with him in A Knight’s Tale. And Brokeback. I could do this all day…