Film a tribute to popular star

Adrian Wan
Adrian Wan |

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By Adrian Wan

For many filmmakers, a tight budget and literal broken back would be enough to make anyone quit. Terry Gilliam, the director of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, experienced both, but said: 'They are only small matters [compared to] the sudden death of my leading man.'

When the news of the tragic death of 28-year-old Heath Ledger broke halfway through production in January 2008, it was an utter shock for Hollywood.

Instead of sinking into misery, Gilliam changed the storyline, so that Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell play the lead character Tony at different stages of the story. The fantastical fable set in contemporary London could finally be completed.

Tony is on the run, and finds a hiding place in a shabby, horse-drawn theatre run by Doctor Parnassus, a master of controlling dreams. On the props table, Tony finds a magic mirror. Anyone who steps into the mirror can achieve his or her dreams. But if the take one wrong step, the devil will take their souls.

The film's surrealistic CG visuals are simply stunning and totally absorbing. But the story begins to lose focus when Ledger disappears. Despite being supported by the stellar performances, the three transformations are confusing - although the change from Ledger to Depp is very natural.

Regardless, Ledger's last ever film is sure to see audiences flocking to the cinema.

YP rating: 3/5

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