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Stijn Verhagen | 2367068 | Fontys Academy for Creative Industries | Minor Transmedia Storytelling | Sep/Oct 2015






























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INTRODUCTION TO THE TRANSMEDIA TREATMENT This document is written as an addition to my analysis about Terry Gylliam’s:

‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’(2009) and will be a complete walkthrough for the ‘Enter the Imaginable’transmedia extension. It is made in a way so that it fits with the already existing movie and could be an instant addition to it. Keeping in mind very important parts such as the movie concept(s), story, characters, design, target audiences and underlying themes. The goal of the transmedia production is to enlarge the story‘for those with eyes to see and ears to hear’and to immerse them by constructing the connection to the user’s personal life and environment. With ‘Enter the Imaginable’ the story world and the life of The Imaginarium and Doctor Parnassus will get new dimension by filling in the gaps that could possibly the side story that was left out of the movie. Giving the user choice in the possible outcomes will indulge them even further into the totality of their, mine and Terry

Gilliam’s (possible) imagination. With the potential of new media devices and a thoughtful, future oriented view, it will give new meaning and life to the original adaptation.


BACK STORY & CONTENT SHORT SYNOPSIS ‘Enter the Imaginable’ revolves around the story in which we follow Parnassus in the everlasting quest to retrieve his great Imagaginarium. Will he stay sober and awakened to get it back? PLAYER GOAL Help Doctor Parnassus defeating Mr. Nick by making the right decisions and winning the bet, in order to preserve the knowledge and save the souls. Join the troupe and retrieve the Imaginarium! HIGH CONCEPT Tell the deeper layers to the story of Doctor Parnassus in such a way that the original story is a parallel story, which can have another outcome. ‘Enter the Imaginable’ goes into the missing links of the movie. Do you know the difference between right and wrong? GENRE: Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery. THEME: Entertainment, (Serious) Game. PREMISE: Learning about the world around, hence the duality of life, can be fun and intriguing.


CONTROLLING IDEA Beginning (setup) Parnassus finds himself in the streets of the modern days. He chose not to interfere with the happy family that used to be part of his troupe. Left behind with only his one true friend Percy, and a cardboard representation of what once was the great Imaginarium. Parnassus is trying to ‘stay on the right path’, by preserving and maintaining all the lessons and teachings he has gathered throughout the ages. Middle (conflict) Knowledge is the key to wisdom. But in order to make the right decisions, one must first become, but mostly stay, aware of the world around. Doctor Parnassus tends to drink a lot and is already around forever, which makes him very old. Therefore he forgets and needs assistance in order to remember. Since most of his troupe left, he is in desperate need for some help for whenever Mr. Nick offers him the red apple. Because when he accepts it, he needs to be sober and awakened. End (resolution) Is Doctor Parnassus able to withstand temptation, preserve knowledge and bring back joy into the life of the people? Will he make the proper choices?

‘The power of the imagination to transform and illuminate our lives.’ ENTER THE IMAGINABLE! Will you keep your mind pure in order to illuminate the souls? The imaginable is infinite and so is our material world around. Busy, unraveling and sometimes confusing. It’s not always easy to make the right decision. That’s why we are constantly conflicted with choosing. And often, our laziness or ignorance will lead us to the way from which we already know that it is the wrong one. In ancient literature this refers to the Seven Sins in opposite of the Seven Virtues. This will be the main underlying concept for ‘ Enter the Imaginable’. This production is all about the retrieving of the Imaginarium. And only by leading Parnassus through the act of decent decision making he can get it back. Will he lead a life of virtue or will he find himself as a sinner once again?


DESIGNING PRINCIPLE Discover the world around and find out the stories behind the film’s question marks. Emphasizing around the subject of temptation and going deeper into the movies connection with reality (myths, worldly symbolism, objects and their meaning). ‘Enter the Imaginable’will be a parallel story to the original movie. The point where the movie stopped could be interpreted as the repetitive start in which Parnassus comes to the point whether he takes the Devil’s red apple or leaves his life the way it is. Will he bet to change the course of time? Can he make the right decisions this time? In order to translate and experience a variety of dualities that fit to this theme the focus will be at whether the user makes useful decisions. Will he take the bet in order to learn, contribute and save the souls? CENTRAL CONFLICT Parnassus needs your help in order to save humanity from the dark side and to bring back imagination itself! Therefore he needs his great Imaginarium once again. This time, it might even be bigger and better than it used to be. But to get it back, Parnassus must remember all the worldly knowledge that exists. Will you help him to win the bet and make the right decisions? STORYWORLD TIMEFRAMES: Where the movie stopped, ‘Enter the Imaginable’ begins. You could see this as the repetitive starting point for the journey of Parnassus. We follow Doctor Parnassus in the course that it will take to retrieve his great Imaginarium. Over this period the story will focus on the past (the last century) of Doctor Parnassus, by retrieving missing data you will gain insight about his ancient knowledge. The time this costs is mostly up to the user, since this side story is partially an evolving and progressing game based production. Depending on the user input, it can evolve but also transgress. EVENTS 1.















SYNOPSIS 1. THE BEGINNING - Superbia Doctor Parnassus is still trying work his way around with all the gears he has. Although he has Percy on his side, he is in desperate need for new members of the troupe. Because he is not able to always listen or rely on this only friend… But he will not admit to this. Bound to this tormented curse of illuminating people’s lives, he is close to giving it all up. And again, he falls for the temptation of the easy way out, liquor. It’s getting dark and in desperate need for company, but with only Percy on his side he cannot longer help himself and starts drinking. Then, Mr. Nicks comes into play and yet again asks the Doctor if he is up for ‘a little bet…’. ‘I bet you will never get back on track, but if you do, and you manage to guide five of your closest souls, I will give you your life back. You can be free, you know!’ But, in order to win the bet and save the souls, he first must reclaim his own mind. Percy appeals to you! He explains that when Parnassus is drunk, he can’t make the right decisions, so he needs someone to assist. Should they take this apple, this temptation to relive the story all over again… Because when they take on the wager, they better have a good assistant! Can you help them? Join the troupe and purify the souls!

Appeal to the audience by recruiting people to join the troupe, through social media, website and teaser video. Percy, the subconscious, knows the difference. That’s why he, as Parnassus, appeals to the audience instead of the ‘proud’ Doctor. He needs to learn the key essence of being humble to his fellow troupe members; otherwise they will not join or leave instantly. 2. THE CARD-BOARD THEATRE - Avarita ‘Ok, you said you’re good to go, you’re now part of this bizarre gang! We cannot go back to the streets like this in the morning. The old man is still drunk and he probably forgot everything again already. Besides, he kicked over our only prop that could possibly get us anywhere… And before we can get somewhere, you need to know why it is shaped and designed like it is. Do you think you can fix it and puzzle it all back together?


This part consists out of a puzzle game in which the user needs to reconstruct the card board version of the Imaginarium. Through a game of collecting he needs to decide whether an item is of use to fix the Imaginarium or unnecessary and only has ‘meaningless’ value. This is the addressing of the duality between greed and fortitude. By choosing the right items, the user will not only fix the card-board imaginarium, but instantly transcend it to a next level version. 3. THE PUPPET-SHOW - Luxuria The following moment Parnassus is already again traveling around with the version of Imaginarium that came after the card-board version. We find him confused, unable to already completely remember what had happened to the older one. In the meantime we see Percy play the familiar story with hand puppets. Parnassus joins him and continues the play. After a while Balthasar approaches the pact. He begins to talk to them after they finish the play. He explains to them that he works for a circus and that he could use some help in order to let it survive. Since for a while they have been under a lot of pressure by the female mayor. Angelica wants those weirdoes gone, though, after a while she starts having feelings for the Doctor. Balthasar asks for help. ‘Since you guys are street performers to, you might be able to help us!? We need to find new people to collaborate in this quest!’ Will he choose lust or justice?

By sharing the carrying social media campaign the player either instantly unlocks the next chapter or will have to wait for a certain time sequence to finish. This can be linked to a certain amount of people that should have shared the campaign poster through social media, in order for everyone to open up the next level. 4. THE HURDY GURDY - Invidia Parnassus wants you gone. He hates you for convincing him to turn his back onto the love of his life. You need to convince him that everything happens for a reason and that he should be thankful for your assistance. It’s better to choose kindness instead of envy to preserve the best possible outcome. Parnassus needs to be reminded that it is all about joy. Therefore you need to let him hear the song ‘ Ode to Joy by Beethoven’ once again. You can only do this if you figure out how to use the music notes scheme.


This part will include a puzzle format as well. Only with this puzzle, the user only finds the right amount of notes necessary to put in the correct order, so that it will write down the musical note scheme for the song ‘ Ode to Joy by Beethoven’. It will consist out of the first 30 notes (first two lines x 15 notes). The player will have to figure out, by his own knowledge or the use of the internet, how they all fit together. Once completed, the next stage is opened. The puppet show transforms into The Hurdy Gurdy music machine. 5. THE IMAGINARIUM - Gula When Doctor Parnassus hears the tunes from the song he starts to remember once again that life is all about making music and dancing while the music is being played. He begins to retrieve his enlightened mind. This drives him even more into bringing joy back into everyone’s mind. But in order to do so, he needs to build a machine in which he can guide others through the world of his imagination. With this machine he could be able to illuminate as many humans as possible. This drives him to build the Imaginarium as we know it. Because of the happiness the Doctor has found again, he must watch out that he will not be too comfortable with drinking again. Can you withhold him this time in order for the Imaginarium and Doctor Parnassus to do their job? The battle between gluttony and temperance.

By logging into your account every single hour, for the course of 12 hours, you can keep the Doctor abstinent and move on to the next level. 6. THE MODERN VERSION - Ira The Imaginarium has transformed into the modern checkerboard Imaginarium. In this final chapter before the resolution, five of your closest souls must enter the imagination of Parnassus. And all of them need to choose the right path. If they do, Parnassus will be free from choice, once again! And together with him, you will have changed the course of time. Will your friends forgive Parnassus, help and set him free. Or will they rather see him, and you, suffer? Out of wrath.

The goal for this chapter is to find five of your closest Facebook friends to play the entire game as well. If they, within a time-frame of a week, then also reach chapter #6, you will free Parnassus. After a week you will unlock chapter #7 nevertheless, which keeps you hooked to the production, only the outcome can be both ways.


7. RESOLUTION – Acedia The five souls enter the modern version of the Imaginarium. What have they chosen? To play or not to play, that is the question. When the last soul comes out of the Imaginarium we get to know who won this wager, this course. Will it be Mr. Nick or Doctor Parnassus?

In this last chapter of the story we will see whether sloth or diligence will be the main outcome for this time Parnassus played the game.

The story can end in two possible ways. Either all your friends did participate, which means that Parnassus will be set free from the eternal wagers with the Devil  Diligence is worth it’s effort  Alternate positive movie outcome  Parnassus unshackles the chains to the dark side  Enlightenment and unattached from Samsara. Or they did not participate, which would mean that the Doctor will stay trapped inside of his own spiraling, repeating, tormented life. If this is the case, the player will be redirected to the appeal of Percy, chapter #1 starts all over again  Sloth  flashback to the start of story.



Opening  Parnassus and Percy, slowely without any attention ending the day.

Parnassus can’t stand it anymore and is operating towards the liquor and getting more drunk.

Dusk  Mr. Nick comes in, Parnassus is already tipsy.

Asks the Doctor if he is up for a little bet.

Percy appeals to you.

You apply.

Story continues  Parnassus kicks over the card-board paper version and falls on it.

It is totally devistated.

Percy explains.

Player fixes card-board version by selecting only the necessary parts.

When finishing chapter #2 the card-board version transforms into the puppetshow.

After this transformation the light intensity goes up.

We find Parnassus, confused, next to Percy who is already playing the story through the puppet show.

Parnassus gets himself together and joins Percy in the play.

Balthasar approaches them.

Asks them for help.

Player decision, whether go for the girl or help the circus. This is a really crucial point, because when the story continues, it most definitely is without Valentina ever being born.

After helping the circus, Angelica steps down as mayor.

The circus prevails and during the celebration performance, in which Parnassus and Percy participate, the musicians play ‘Ode to Joy by Beethoven.

Parnassus starts to remember and again the light intensity goes up and the puppet-show begins to transform. Chapter #3 is finished.

Although the circus prevailed, Parnassus hates you because he had to choose between the love of his life and the circus.

Bring back joy into Parnassus his life, by learning him his own lessons. Don’t take live to seriously, because it’s all about the Joy!

When the player has taught himself and metaphorically played ‘Ode to Joy’ the hurdy gurdy machine transforms into the original Imaginarium. End of chapter #4.

After Parnassus hears the song, he starts remembering even more.


PLOT POINTS – continuation •

Parnassus gets really excited.

The Doctor decides to build the Imaginarium as we know it, to also bring joy to other people’s lives by guiding them through his imagination.

Can he, in all his happiness, withstand the temptation of drinking (too much)?

Player shows soberness to the game.

If completed the dare, the next time the player will continue, this is the end of chapter #5 which leads to the transformation into the modern day version of the Imaginarium.

When Parnassus shows that he can survive without the use of liquor, he has regained his mind.

The five souls may now enter the modern Imaginarium and start their own story.

Resolution of the story: Will the five souls change the course of time and unchain Doctor Parnassus from this everlasting game of choices?






Unknown (age: Immortal)


The streets of London / the imaginable.

IMPORTANT: Till the day Doctor Parnassus frees himself from the eternal and immortal curse that haunts him, he will relive the same choices over and over again. Is he, with your assistance, able to retrieve the Imaginarium and illuminate the souls? DESIRES •

Winning the bet.

Making the right choices.

Getting rid of this eternal curse.

Retrieving the Imaginarium.

Illuminating the souls.

Women - Love


Losing the bet.

To derive his own true path.

Seeing the Devil conquer the souls.

Missing out on the love of his life.


Desperate and unmotivated.

Not at all times able to listen to his subconscious (Percy) and choosing wrong.

Losing his mind.

Slowly deriving his one true path.

Easily grasping and falling for booze and liquor.






Unknown (age: Immortal)


The streets of London / the imaginable.

IMPORTANT: Just as Doctor Parnassus, Mr. Nick has been around forever. He is the opposite of the right path, which leads him to derive people (souls) to the path of sin. He will be around till Parnassus and you finally manage to illuminate humanity. DESIRES •

Seeing Parnassus suffer and fool him into making the wrong decisions.

Bringing souls to the dark side of life, misleading.

Involve you into the story, to see you suffer as well. He bets you can’t help.

He wants to play an everlasting game.


Of losing the opposite.

Seeing Parnassus escape his eternal curse.

You, the player scares him the most. Nevertheless he and want you to join.

That he can’t himself and that this might lead to his decline.


Seduces the souls to ‘Enter the Imaginable’.

Tries to mislead everyone.

Makes the rules of the game.

Offers the bet.

Seems classy, but demonic.






Unknown (age: Immortal)


The streets of London / the imaginable.

IMPORTANT: It is doubtful whether Percy is a real, physical existing creature. He could be interpreted as the subconscious of Doctor Parnassus and therefore is the one that always tries to help. Guiding Parnassus towards the right direction, but sometimes he just does not listen to Percy alone. DESIRES •

Seeing the good win.

Helping Parnassus throughout his life.

Recruiting you to assist them both.

The right path.


Seeing the Doctor fall back into the misery of liquor.

That Parnassus won’t listen to him.

That you as the player will not join.

To see the Devil win.


In need of assistance.

Tries to positively manipulate the choices Parnassus makes.

Recruits the player.

At the verge of quitting Parnassus.






Unknown (age: 53)


The streets of London / the imaginable.

IMPORTANT: He is the director and the equerry of ‘Circus Bizarre’ that is on the verge of bankruptcy, due to the work of the city’s mayor: Angelica. In his final attempt to save the circus he calls the three Puppeteers, Parnassus, Percy and you, to action! DESIRES •

Wants to save the circus.

Wants the circus people, the bizarre, to keep on existing.

Wants to see Angelica suffer.

Hopes for the troupe to help him.

Bring joy to the people.


To see the circus disappear.

No longer able to entertain the people.

The rejection of the troupe.

To see Angelica conquer them.


In need of assistance.

Always full of joy, even when he is in need.

Recruits the player.

At the verge of losing the circus.






approx. 1930 (age: 30 in the end of the ‘50s )


The streets of London / the imaginable.

IMPORTANT: In the parallel story, Angelica is the woman that, for the movie, was going to be the mother of Valentina. For that story, Valentina was the whole reason everything, in the end, went wrong. It is the year 1959 she lives in London as the mayor of the city and hates the circus and it’s bizarre people. She wants them gone. Though, when the troupe of Parnassus interferes, she falls for the old man. DESIRES •

The love of Parnassus.

Seeing the circus disappear.

To have children.


Not finding her one true love.

Losing her job as the mayor of London City.

That Parnassus does not choose her side.

To see the circus survive.


Spreading falls publicity and propaganda about the circus and it’s creatures.

Tackling the circus/

Wants the player gone and Parnassus at her side.

Seduces Parnassus.


CHARACTERISATION & ATTITUDE SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS: THE CARD-BOARD THEATRE Physical characteristics Small representation of the once great Imaginarium. This model is made out of card-board. Intrinsic value It is the last remain of the Imaginarium. The last physical trace to the original one. Symbolic value Lots of symbolic clues to the assumed life of Parnassus and his ancient knowledge. Originated in many cultures, myths and religions. THE PUPPET SHOW Physical characteristics This is the representation of the next-level Imaginarium. The cardboard theatre evolves into this one. It is made of simply wood and symbolic drawings. The puppets are old looking and seem to originate from the ‘40s. The puppets themselves cover the original cast of Parnassus. Intrinsic value Anton and Valentina are still represented in this version, but throughout this entire story, they fulfill no other purpose than the catcher in the eye to be removed from the story when the player plays it right. Then, Valentina will never be born and in the next-level Imaginarium. She and Anton will be vanished from the life of Parnassus. Symbolic value This version has the same symbolic representation as the original and the card-board version.


CHARACTERISATION & ATTITUDE SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS – continuation CIRCUS BIZARRE Physical characteristics Cicrus, dated out of the beginning of the 1900s. Intrinsic value Connection and extra representation of the lifestyle and imagery of the troupe and the movie itself. Symbolic value In order to save something, something must be lost.

THE HURDY GURDY Physical characteristics Old and metal looking, pipe instrument, that plays either a sad song or the joy of life. The evolved version of the puppet-show. Intrinsic value Everything is music. Dance and sing while the music is being played. Enjoy living, at any time. Symbolic value Music is what sustains the universe. Together with the stories.


CHARACTERISATION & ATTITUDE SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS – continuation THE IMAGINARIUM Physical characteristics: As in the movie. Old carnival theatre/stage with a lot of symbolic and ancient/religious representations and reflections, hence the mirror. Intrinsic value: Representation of the life-cycle of Parnassus and the knowledge he possesses. Symbolic value References to the ancient knowledge from different religions from all over the world, gathered throughout time.

THE MODERN VERSION Physical characteristics A psychedelic black and white exterior leads you into the mirror. It is in fact the older Imaginarium with a modern design. Intrinsic value Depiction of modern day society. Symbolic value The duality in life, Yin and Yang, is the base for the modern version. A representation of choice, for virtue or temptation.


SETTINGS TOPOS The world of the imagination covers the spectrum of possibilities. Therefore everything and nothing at the same time, is possible. The story seems to play in the normal day physical reality, with all his pitfalls and history attached to it. But this also is the world full of mysteries, mysticism and magic. DEMOS Parnassus Immortal – old customs – Messiah – ancient knowledge – religion (combination eastern and western) – symbolism – no use of technology cq. off the grid Mr. Nick Immortal – Devil like / demonic figure – classy – dressed in black – religion is a minor part Percy Doubtful existence – but immortal – lives life as Parnassus Balthasar London as origin – lives in the last part of the ‘50s – of this time, but in a bizarre circus like way – light is their only technology – they use horses as transportation for the wagons Angelica London as origin – lives in the last part of the ‘50s – young female mayor – upper-class – patronizing CHRONOS Official - The start, and possible ending, with the card-board theatre. - The part with the original Imaginarium, partially, might have different ending. - The part with the modern Imaginarium, partially, might have different ending. Unofficial - The start, and possible ending, with the card-board theatre. - The Puppet Show - Circus Bizarre - The Hurdy Gurdy



LINK TO ANALYSIS s/verhagen_stijn_analysis_parnassus


BIBLIOGRAPHY Hayes, G. P. (2011, July). How to write a Transmedia production Bible? Retrieved from Screen Australia: IMDB. (2009 / 2015). The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Retrieved from IMDB: Pratten, R. (2011 / 2015). Getting started with Transmedia Storytelling. Stackelberg, P. v. (2014, June). Storyworld Design - Worldbuilding & Transmedia Stories. Retrieved from Transmediadigest: Stackelberg, P. v. (2014, May). Worldbuilding - Using Transmedia Storyworlds to Shape the

Future. Retrieved from Slideshare: Trust, J. P. (2011). Principles of Design. Retrieved from Wikipedia. (2015). Game Mechanics. Retrieved from Wikipedia:


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