The Imaginarium of Terry Gilliam

I think my belief that “every story has a Minnesota connection” was cemented the day I learned (many years ago now) that Terry Gilliam is a Minnesotan. The Monty Python alum and epic film-maker (“Brazil” is one of my personal all-time faves, but I also love “12 Monkeys” and “Time Bandits”) was born in Medicine Lake, Minnesota. He moved to California with his family at the age of twelve.

Something about Terry Gilliam’s overwrought and baroque imagery emerging from the belly of “Minnesota Nice” seems wholly incongruous to me, but also wonderfully appropriate. It takes a truly fertile field to give rise to such a creative crop!

Gilliam’s latest movie “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” may be his most epic in vision yet. Mysterious Doctor Parnassus runs a travelling show and is able to guide people’s imaginations. He makes a bet with the devil not once, not twice, but three times, and his luck appears to be running out.

Over the course of the film we travel through centuries and universes and the infinitely imaginative landscape of Terry Gilliam’s mind. But the movie returns again and again to the backdrop of modern-day London.

The film stars Christopher Plummer as Doctor Parnassus and Tom Waits as “Mr. Nick” (the devil). Due to the untimely death of actor Heath Ledger, his character is alternately played by himself, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law.

You can see Terry Gilliam talking about his creative vision for “Imaginarium” here.

“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” opens mid October in England, but an exact release date in the U.S. has yet to be set.

FYI, in 2006 Terry Gilliam renounced his U.S. citizenship (he’s quoted as saying it was a political act, but he’s also admitted it has tax benefits), so his visits here are limited to no more than 30 days each year.

Odd thought: it seems like a very balanced trade that England should get Terry Gilliam while the American midwest gets Neil Gaiman.

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