So this is a movie about Dr. Parnassus. He owns an imaginarium, and is played by Oscar nominee Christopher Plummer.
He often looks like a professor from Harry Potter.
The imaginarium is a large mobile fold-up stage pulled by at horse. Parnassus puts on shows wherein crowd members come up on stage and go through a mirror into a magical land where they unwittingly have to decide between good an evil. If they lose, they die? It’s unclear, but people disappear in fiery explosions in the mirror world and are never seen again.
I’m going to tell you the plot
This is so you don’t have to go see it. Basically, a long time ago, for reasons unclear, Dr. Parnassus made a bet with the Devil (played by Tom Waits with a pencil moustache). The bet was that Parnassus would get to live forever if he saved 12 souls before the Devil stole the same number, or something. Then later he made another bet (it’s implied that he actually made many bets, and is something of a compulsive gambler) that the Devil could have his daughter, Valentina (played by a former model) if…I can’t remember. Anyway, Parnassus lost the bet.
That’s Valentina. Oh look, the Devil/Tom Waits!!
The problem is, I can’t remember the plot (though I just saw the movie last night)
Anyway, the basic narrative tension is that Parnassus has to do a bunch of stuff to save his daughter. He is also an alcoholic, and it seems like she often really doesn’t like the life he’s given her.
That’s when Heath Ledger swings in. Get it? Because in the movie, he’s first introduced hanging by the neck under a bridge. Like he’s probably dead! But he’s not. He has a flute that he sticks in his throat to prevent him dying from hanging (this actually comes back in the movie MANY TIMES).
Yep, that’s pretty much what it looked like. Anway, Tony (oh, that’s the name of his character, though it is impossible to not be thinking HEATH LEDGER HEATH LEDGER HEATH LEDGER while watching this) decides to stick around and help them win the bet with the help of the rest of Parnassus’s crew, which consists of a young dude in love with Valentina and Vern Troyer, who is possibly the worst actor of all time, and I’m not saying that because he is so small.
So, long story short: Tony turns out to be kind of bad news, but does help kinda. In the end, Valentina lives! But she never sees her father again.
This is really the clearest, most distilled plot summary possible. The experience of the movie was like your stoned friend telling you about the dream his little sister had a few nights ago. Nothing means anything.
You’re probably wondering if Heath Ledger’s untimely death is somehow a partial explanation for the loopiness, but it is not. The story doesn’t seem to have been changed at all, and actually Colin Farrell, who plays the final Tony (in addition to Heath, Johnny Depp and Jude Law also play the character) is kind of the best thing in the movie, in that he seems to be playing an actual character.
Tony dies in the end, tricked by Parnassus, who then becomes a homeless person until Vern Fucking Troyer shows up at the end dressed like a bellhop at a fancy hotel. They come up with a business plan to sell little cardboard sets of the imaginarium, and Christopher Plummer ends the movie looking like a recovering alcoholic who still probably smells bad. Fin.
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