Last night we went down to the theater to check out the last and final film by the late and more importantly great Heath Ledger. That film is known as the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – and wow that’s a mouth full of title. This film follows the story of a Buddhist monk that wagers bets with the devil on who can lure in more souls. The monk through the allure of the imagination and everything good it has to offer. The devil uses his most common trick of luring through a human’s most desired vice. Basically its a battle for your soul with the good (Dr. Parnassus) and evil (Mr. Nick, or better known as the devil). I am going to say right up front, the movie can seem a little confusing and at times run long but I absolutely enjoyed it. I seem to have a soft spot when a film tries to capture imagination running free. I like the idea of saying, “With imagination, you can do anything.” Now that’s not what this film’s exact message is, but it spotlights it. It shows how good imagination can be. Perhaps its the art student in me – I dunno.
Heath Ledger in the film plays Tony, a man that the Doctor’s traveling circus finds hanging from a bridge that joins their misfit band to help save souls. And his rapport on life and death throughout the film is quite eerie considering the real-life circumstances. Christopher Plummer plays the great Doctor Parnassus and I enjoyed him in the role. Actually everyone played their roles quite well including Tom Waits as Mr. Nick and Lily Cole as the beautiful Valentina. But the most interesting part of this movie has to be what happened behind the scenes in the movie. With Heath’s premature death, the film itself was only partially completed. So, three well-known actors (Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law) stepped in to try and fill the shoes of Heath and finish the role. And in pretty much seamless fashion, they were able to complete the film. As Ledger’s character enter the imagination world, he is transformed to a person that a person would want him to be. To me its amazing and fortunate that they were able to piece what they had together and make what resulted. And the really cool thing is those three actors took what they were paid to do the film and passed it on to Heath’s daughter so that her future would be financially secure. To me, it seems like a very noble and great way to honor a fellow actor in their last part.
Like I said before, the movie is a bit strange and on the artsy side. Do not go if you are looking to remember Heath as the nicest man in the world. He does have a dark side in this film. But I say go, watch it, let your imagination explore the worlds they have created.