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The Cinema of Terry GilliamIt's a Mad World$
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Jeff Birkenstein, Anna Froula, and Karen Randell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231165358

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231165358.001.0001

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Celebrity Trauma

Celebrity Trauma

The Death of Heath Ledger and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

(p.145) Chapter Eleven Celebrity Trauma
The Cinema of Terry Gilliam

Karen Randell

Columbia University Press

This chapter explores Terry Gilliam's last major film to date, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), and its traumatic journey to screen following the death of actor Heath Ledger during the production. The death of Ledger on 22 January 2008 placed the production of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in turmoil, and led Gilliam to continue to shoot with the addition of three well-known actors to replace Ledger: Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell. The film is a “fantastical morality tale set in the present day”, and tells the story of an Imaginarium, a travelling show in which the ancient Doctor Parnassus guides members of the audience to enjoy an “irresistible opportunity to choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom”. It then takes its audience on a somewhat melancholic journey constructed by aesthetic and philosophical bricolage.

Keywords:   The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, fantastical morality tale, melancholia

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