Heath Ledger may well be this generation’s James Dean. His career tragically cut short (though in his case more by a bad decision than by happenstance), he had a few more films than Dean, but like Dean was just reaching his peak at his death, and appeared to be on his way to becoming one of the all-time greats. His last few roles were among his best, and his final role in 2009′s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is no exception.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was written and directed by Terry Gilliam, with frequent collaborator Charles McKeown co-writing, and as one might suspect from both the title and the creators, it deals heavily in imagination. In fact, though it has something of a darker tone to it, it feels very similar to their earlier collaboration, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Continue reading →
Released in 1988, Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen very nearly wasn’t released at all. Behind schedule, far over budget, more than a little bit off of the mainstream, it wasn’t exactly the darling of the studio’s eye — especially since the studio heads had recently undergone a shift in management, and the new heads weren’t keen on releasing anything by their predecessors. Reportedly, fewer than 50 prints were released to U.S. theatres, dooming the movie to relative obscurity and becoming a cult classic at best. But that would hardly be the first nor last time that would be true for a film directed by the Monty Python alumnus. Like most people, I didn’t see it when it was new, or even when it was first released on video. It’s probably just as well in my case; I would have been just a bit young at the time, and although I might have liked it, I probably wouldn’t have “gotten” it as much as an adult.
But since I became an adult and became aware of it, it’s been sitting on my “to see” list for some time. Tonight, I finally got to cross it off the list, and I’m glad. The movie is simply a delight, not just a fantasy movie, but a testament to the place that fantasy holds in culture. Continue reading →