I love stories. I am fascinated by movies, books, plays, skits~anything that tells a story. I'm talking story more than visual effects, although really good visuals can tell a story on their own.
We recently rented The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Below is the plot synopsis:
"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a fantastical morality tale, set in the present day. It tells the story of Dr Parnassus and his extraordinary 'Imaginarium', a travelling show where members of the audience get an irresistible opportunity to choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom. Blessed with the extraordinary gift of guiding the imaginations of others, Dr Parnassus is cursed with a dark secret. Long ago he made a bet with the devil, Mr Nick, in which he won immortality. Many centuries later, on meeting his one true love, Dr Parnassus made another deal with the devil, trading his immortality for youth, on condition that when his first-born reached its 16th birthday he or she would become the property of Mr Nick. Valentina is now rapidly approaching this 'coming of age' milestone and Dr Parnassus is desperate to protect her from her impending fate. Mr Nick arrives to collect but, always keen to make a bet, renegotiates the wager. Now the winner of Valentina will be determined by whoever seduces the first five souls. Enlisting a series of wild, comical and compelling characters in his journey, Dr Parnassus promises his daughter's hand in marriage to the man that helps him win. In this captivating, explosive and wonderfully imaginative race against time, Dr Parnassus must fight to save his daughter in a never-ending landscape of surreal obstacles - and undo the mistakes of his past once and for all... "~ imdb.com
This imaginative tale is as visually effective as the latest version of Alice in Wonderland. Where they had me was in the first third of the movie when the doctor is telling his daughter the tale of how he met the devil. It seems in the beginning he was a monk in a monastery where they told the story of the world. Without constant storytelling, they believed the universe would fall apart. The devil, intent on showing him how silly that idea is, waves his hand and closes the mouths of all the monks. Horrified in the silence, they wait for the universe to fall apart.
"See?" The devil says with a glint in his eye. "Nothing happened."
But the Doctor simply smiles. "All it means is that somewhere, someone else is telling the story, keeping us all alive."
And I was hooked!
Visually stunning, dreamlike and at times confusing, there is much to fall in love with in this story. But I do warn you that you have to keep an open mind and simply let the story flow without trying to make sense of it all. To top it all off there are wonderful performances by Christopher Plummer, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law. (Okay, seriously, do you need any further reason to watch this film?) This was Heath Ledger's last film and after his death they creatively used Johnny, Colin and Jude to finish the role.
The characters are all incredibly flawed-in the best literary sense- leaving the viewer uncertain as to how the movie will end and who is the right person to champion: devil, dreamer or monk.
This is a movie of moments not plot so if you don't like a film that is more dream than reality you won't like it. But if you are up for eye candy and a story that is something different, pop some corn, grab some junior mints and enjoy.