DVDs for 04-27-10 Parnassus and Streep, Five Minutes in Banlieue 13

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Sony) – Terry Gilliam dives back into his diabolical imagination for this carny sideshow of a Faust tale, which he drops into the blurry boundary between the material world and the dream world. Christopher Plummer’s Doctor Parnassus could be an alter-ego for Gilliam, a showman fantasist trying to jump-start the imaginations of a modern world with his unique and eccentric theatrical spectacles and phantasmagorical dream worlds. For all the rough edges and dark patches, it’s a joy to get lost in. My feature review is on Parallax View here.

Step right up to the Imaginarium

The DVD and Blu-ray editions are filled with a wealth of supplements. Gilliam overflows with stories and observations and background details to every scene in his solo commentary track (including the adjustments made after Heath Ledger died), which is marked by a mix of enthusiasm and modesty: he doesn’t always understand his creative impulses, but he feels the accumulation of the details. There’s a single deleted scene (with unfinished special effects) which can be viewed with optional Gilliam commentary, a handful of short featurettes and tributes to Heath Ledger (including a brief audio interview from 2007). Exclusive to the Blu-ray is the six-minute “The Imaginarium of Terry Gilliam” and a breakdown of a major special effects sequence in four stages, from animated storyboard to finished film.

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