Booze Revooze: A Drinker’s Skewed Review of THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR PARNASSUS

Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - poster

[Click here for a guide to Booze Revooze and the rating system used]

Yet another Booze Revooze Sneak Peek. Yes, once again the powers that drink sent a film to Yeman before the States.

Ramblings: The Imaginarium Of Terry Gilliam

Final Proof: 3½ Shots

3  & 1-2 shotsYou know how you go to that one bar that’s literally an underground club because it’s in a basement lost somewhere at the bottom of some building and you don’t go there a lot but when you do it’s because it’s the only tavern you know of where you can drink absinthe? You go there, you suckle the green fairy and you lay back and let the phantasms swoon inside you and some of them are dark and others are pleasant but you care more about the fact that you can let go of your mind and let your dreams do the thinking. Sure, sometimes the drink wears off and you feel the stupor laced ennui opium withdrawal but all you need to do is drink more and wait for the wormwood to worm its way back into your wood and set you free. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is kinda like that.

Absinthe Art


Terry Gilliam is the only man alive who knows how to film our dreams. And when i say “dreams”, i don’t mean all that “pie in the sky, hopes and aspirations” crap; no, i’m talking about the spectacle you see only after you close your eyes. Watching The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is like dreaming with your eyes open, most of the time. It would have been a better film had it stayed in story mode but  (here’s the opium withdrawal part) it strayed into story telling and every writer should know it’s not what you say but what you show.

Gilliam’s Imaginarium is a cocktale (fairytale + cocktail = cocktale; get your minds out of the gutter) about choices. Perhaps a little over simplified into the choice between good and evil, but then it is a cocktale and things tend to be simpler there. Heath Ledger symbolizes what is known in the Tarot as the Hanged Man, a card which represents someone at a crossroads or someone who refuses to choose. Then, reminiscent of Job (thanks Miss D!), there’s good and the Devil making bets on the choices they dole out to us poor humans. What i’m drunk driving at here, is that Gilliam has done more than present us with a pretty picture, but painted an elaborate fable that i’m afraid this simple drinker would need to see more than once to grasp completely.

Technically, especially the ‘mirror’ scenes, the movie is flawless. CGI allows Gilliam to go farther and faster than he ever went in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and The Imaginarium…, while suffering from Munchausen‘s syndrome, is a huge visual success.

The actors are amazing as well. Christopher Plummer is totally convincing as Parnassus. Heath Ledger does his normal wonderful job in his role, but it’s a more traditional part than The Joker so he has less to work with. Lily Cole is the revelation of the movie for me, however, and not just because she’s a hot, 21-year-old top model playing a 16-year-old virgin. She portrays the good doctor’s daughter, Valentina (aka “Scrumpy”), with the perfect balance of innocence, rebellion and filial love. And then there’s Tom Waits. Tom is just the coolest, hands down. All other contenders just give up your ghosts ’cause Waits owns the crown. i could freakin’ listen to him read the warning labels on booze bottles for four hours and still not get tired of his voice. God Bless You, Tom (and The Devil, too).

As long as i’m talking about the actors, i’d like to drink a toast to Johnny Depp, who really came up to the bar to help Gilliam after Heath Ledger died, as well as Jude Law and Colin Farrell who did the same. The three actors (according to the Trivia section at IMDB ) “gave all the income they received for this movie to Heath Ledger’s daughter Matilda so that her economic future would be secure.” Another, bigger drink to the three lads.

Buzz Kills (Watch Out for Spoilers)

Sex: 2½ Shots

2 & 1-2 shotsWhile there is no nudity (and don’t make me go into another PG-13 rant again), Lily Cole is simply sublime. Ok, she’s no Miss Demeanor but there’s only one of her and she’s mine so forget about it. Speaking of Miss D, though, there are three links to my beloved in this movie:

  1. She’s hotter than Lily Cole
  2. She has the same birthday as Lily Cole (well, same day, but the years are a little off)
  3. She got her sleeve tattoo done by the same artist as Verne Troyer (who plays Percy here and was Mini Me in Austin Powers)

Ok, that’s enough, you’ve even been thinking about Miss Demeanor too long so stop it and let’s get back to how cute Lily Cole is. Like there’s this scene where she rolls her own cigarette with her own mouth and i swear to god, i’d drink scotch and razor blades through an anal I.V. for a month if i could smoke a cigarette rolled off that tongue.

There’s also a ‘topless’ scene where she sits on stage as Eve (and there’s that ‘choice’ theme popping up again), but Gilliam Titty Blocks her with her hair. [‘Titty Blocking’, for those of you new to Booze Revooze, is when an actress is naked but the director hides her boobs through different miss-directing techniques.] Here’s photo-not-graphic-enough proof:

Lily Cole: Imaginarium scene

A Perfect Example of Hair Titty Blocking

Yeah, i can so buy that she’s sixteen.

As for the rest of Lily:


Lily Cole

Lily Cole

Lily Cole

Lily Cole

Lily Cole

God Bless the Web (and all who surf there).

A Smoke

Drink: 3 Shots

3 shotsActually, i was pleasantly surprised here.

A drunken lout in the opening scene falls through the mirror and into a lake of empties before being confronted with a choice. There’s a huge, daunting pyramid with 12 craggy ledges he needs to climb to reach the pinnacle, and a reference to ‘Twelve Steps’ is engraved in the stone. The other choice is Tom Waits telling him there’s free beer in his derby hat bar. Yeah, like you wouldn’t have made the same choice this guy does…

Parnassus drinks regularly from a fifth, looks like gin to me but it could be another white alcohol. He has to go on stage passed out drunk, he wakes up with hangovers and once he looks like he’s on his last legs when he’s pronounced dead—drunk.

Anton (Andrew Garfield), another player in the troupe, drinks out of a fifth as he sadly sits on the banks of the Thames. Heath Ledger’s character (Tony) comes over and joins him. Ahhh, i might even give up a cigarette made with Lily Cole spittle just to sit and have a drink with Heath. Ok, pro’lly not really, but i would give it a serious hard think.

You are missed, Heath.

Heath Ledger

A Smoke

Rock & Roll: 0 Shots

‘0’ as in n0ne.

Boring Technical Crap

Written by: Terry Gilliam & Charles McKeown

Directed by: Terry Gilliam


Heath Ledger – Tony

Tom Waits – Mr. Nick

Lily Cole – Valentina

Christopher Plummer – Dr. Parnassus

Verne ‘Mini Me’ Troyer – Percy

Bottom Line

Make the choice: See it. Plus, you’re giving money to Matilda Ledger if you do.

4 thoughts on “Booze Revooze: A Drinker’s Skewed Review of THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR PARNASSUS

  1. I love Gilliam and would love to own all of his works. Wonder, horror and never the promise of a happy ending. This has all the wrappings of a children’s tale (aka Charley and the Chocolate Factory), but with Gilliam at the helm, I’m sure it is a bit adult for some. One would wonder what the product of his teaming up with, say, Tim Burton would produce (bringing to mind such a teaming of Lucas and Spielberg).

    • Actually not so adult. As ‘child friendly’ as Munchausen, anyway. i’d take my 12-year-old daughter to see it if it weren’t for the long, narrative sections.

      i totally agree on your cocktail of Burton/Gilliam! What a mix that would make…

      Al K Hall

  2. Thank you for all the props, Al.

    This movie, IMO, is no “Brazil,” a Gilliam film that is his very best, I think. But, it is so visually lush, I love what Gilliam was getting at in this fable, and I think he did a superb job of getting this to the screen after Heath Ledger’s passing, thanks to all you mentioned up there. I am really, really glad this film was made, I am proud of Gilliam for completing it, and it is worth a watch just to see what comes out of Gilliam’s imagination, which is a wonderful, thoughtful, crazy kind of place. I enjoyed the ride.

    BTW, Lily Cole reminds me a lot of your first real love, the one I know, too. I kept thinking that in the movie. I think its one of the reasons you a mite bit fixated on her. Also, she really reminds me of the girls in the paintings done by Mark Ryden:

    I love Mark’s work, and I saw echoes of it in Gilliam’s movie — they have a similar sensibility. Lily is the kind of girl I always hoped I could look like: unique and interesting, while also being lovely.

    • Yeah, i don’t see the similarities, other than hair color… i hadn’t thought of making your comparison until i’d read it here. That the ressemblance is striking didn’t strike me.

      i totally agree with your analysis, of course. Great minds, right?

      Al K Hall

Leave us some tips!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s