Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Camera Technique: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Visual effects! Hurrah!

This movie was a tad...odd, even by my standards. It definitely requires multiple viewings. Director Terry Gilliam is known for dabbling in the bizarre with such works as Jabberwocky, Time Bandits, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Brothers Grimm, and of course a plethora of Monty Python films. According to IMDB: "After the death of Heath Ledger, production was shut down for a few months. Then it was re-started when Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell agreed to complete Ledger's role. The film's fantasy premise—and some clever rewrites—allowed the actors to play a man whose appearance changes as he travels between imaginary worlds." (IMDB Trivia). This worked out really well, as IoDP relies pretty heavily on CGI, miniatures, partial sets combined with bluescreen, and all that good stuff to aid all of the fantastical elements. Also, your heart has to melt at the fact that all three of the actors who took over the role gave 100% of their received income to Ledger's daughter in order to secure her economic future. Crying yet? I had better move onto the gifs.

Taken from this Tumblr.

Here we have Mr. Nick (Tom Waits!) emerging from a mirror. This character is basically Satan, so of course he has his own CGI flames added in post-production. Valentina (Lily Cole) has her soul taken away as per her father's deal with Mr. Nick. After a dance routine—oh yes—she blows a kiss goodbye and is sent into hellfire. Mr. Nick seems disappointed at having finally won...but there is more yet to come for both characters.

Taken from this Tumblr.

This gifset best exemplifies the kind of VFX used in IoDP. Looks pretty crazy, yeah? This movie does not even try to integrate effects in a way that makes them seem realistic. The whole point is to be dreamlike and visually astonishing. Check out this article for a much more in-depth look into all of the VFX.

Another intriguing idea that Gilliam had was to base certain scenes on famous paintings, such as the above by Grant Wood. Neat, huh?

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  1. I thought this movie was pretty amazing, and yes, the circumstances of Heath Ledger's death were dealt with in a very interesting (hot guy) way. It's a fairy tale movie, which, as you know, means it about a 16 year old girl becoming sexually active. I should watch this again. Your blog continues to amaze me.

    1. I was kind of Depp-obsessed when this movie came out. He's been in *a lot* of interesting films. I was thinking of blogging about Chocolat or Sweeney Todd at some point. We'll see.

      That is a very good point about the loss of virginity. I will have to re-watch it with fairy tale aspects in mind. Valentina, while a critical character, always seemed shoved aside by the many Tonys and the game b/t Parnassus & Nick. My first viewing of IoDP consisted of me just trying to figure out what the flying flip was happening...so I will definitely have to see it again.

  2. LOL, yes it is worth another watch. Oh, Chocolat -- was there ever a more perfect movie?