Why Can't America See 'The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus'?


Here is the UK trailer for Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, which, insanely, still does not have a US distributor. How can that be? We are expecting a purchase at the Toronto Film Festival next month-or you will have to go to Europe in October to see it. There are very many reasons that we are getting on the bandwagon for a US release.

1) The story, of a man who has sold his soul to the devil for immortality and the power to cross into parallel dimensions, seems particularly well-suited to Gilliam’s darkly comic psychedelia.

2) It is Heath Ledger’s last work. He died part way through filming.

3) Along with Heath Ledger, it also stars Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell-making it a sort of big-screen menagerie of Hollywood hot boys.

4) Along with them, it also stars Tom Waits and Christopher Plummer-who own two of the English-speaking world’s greatest speaking voices.

5) Tom Waits plays the devil, which is basically a role that’s been waiting for him to play since the bible-or at least since he wrote and recorded “Way Down In the Hole” for his 1987 album, Frank’s Wild Years. (That song, of course, was also the theme song for The Wire.)

6) “I don’t know why he thought of me,” said Waits, of Gilliam, in an immensely enjoyable self-interview Pitchfork‘s report sends us to. “I was raised in the church.”

Besides the movie, in the interview, Waits discusses everything from his favorite songs to obscure word origins to the scariest things he can think of. To the question of how he’d compare two guitarists he’s worked with, Marc Ribot and Smokey Hormel, he answers: “Octopus have eight and squid have ten tentacles, each with hundreds of suction cups and each have the power to burst a man’s artery. They have small birdlike beaks used to inject venom into a victim. Some gigantic squid and octopus with one hundred foot tentacles have been reported. Squids have been known to pull down entire boats to feed on the disoriented sailors in the water. Many believe unexplained, sunken deep-sea vessels, and entire boat disappearances are the handiwork of giant squid.” Oh yes. It is well-worth reading the whole thing.