Ledger’s last film lacks coherent storyline
February 5, 2010
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” best known for featuring Heath Ledger’s last appearance on the big screen, is a visually-stunning, wacky, whimsical journey that can be fun, but ultimately has no point. The film follows the ancient Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) and his traveling troupe of carnival actors as they travel about entertaining - for a purpose that is not entirely known to most of the characters and viewers for much of the film. The visuals are as random as the plot.
The first glimpse of Heath Ledger hanging by a rope underneath a bridge is perhaps the most chilling moment of the film. Ledger’s character Tony is quite possibly the most realistic and understandable character in this CGI nightmare. I can only hope the film would have been better, had Ledger been able to finish the film. Although with Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and Johnny Depp filling the gaps that Ledger could not, the film is not quite at a loss. The Imaginarium, a mirror that takes one to wherever their imagination desires, allows for four men to play the same character without it being completely ridiculous. Still, it seems wrong that the character’s last scene is performed by Colin Farrell and not Heath Ledger.
The film which is clearly a fantasy film, tries to contrast with present-day reality, but fails miserably. The carnival troupe traveling in their double decker horse-drawn carriage and wearing clothing from a different century, too much to take in. It’s hard to get into a film that you can’t relate to at all. The strangeness of the film, its characters, and all its visuals are certainly more than enough to take in. This film requires a lot of imagination from the viewer to take all of it in and process it in some way, while the plot does little to help with the visual madness that is “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.”
If the story had not been so jumbled, this film could’ve been a lot better. In expressing my dislike for this film, in no way do I discredit the acting. The acting was one of the few things that compelled me to not completely give up on the film. Ledger did well in his last role, not quite to the par of his role as The Joker, but still a decent effort. Plummer was the perfect old stubborn man character of Doctor Parnassus. Possibly the most interesting character was the devil, or Mr. Nick, played by Tom Waits. His scheming ways and cool exterior made for a compelling performance. The other actors filled their roles accordingly and with ease.
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” is certainly an interesting film and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It has outstanding visuals and allows the imagination to run free. The acting is superb. If only the plot had been more focused, it wouldn’t have been such a disaster. Disaster it may be, but at least it was an interesting and visuallystunning one.
Natalie Conrad is a junior journalism and marketing communications major and French minor. She enjoys running,reading, writing, playing guitar, and traveling.