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


INTRODUCTION This paper is made as a first research and development assignment for the minor Transmedia Storytelling at the Fontys Academy for Creative Industries in the year 2015. This narratological movie analysis is the first step in creating a treatment for a transmedia extension (for an existing story/production). With this research I’m going to have a closer look at the deeper and mystical meaning of Terry Gilliam’s: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. This paper starts with a movie summary and is then divided into three different steps. First I will have a closer look at the story construction in which I will point out the different steps of the Hero’s Journey and the character archetypes, based on the book The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler (2007). Then, second, I provide the reader a spreadsheet concerning the negative capabilities and hermeneutic codes that I found and became aware of during this movie inquiry. Adding the list with a series of questions that in my opinion, remain unanswered by the story. I will wrap this all up with preferable and logical migratory cues to be used. Last but not least, I will conclude this analysis by stating what kind of target group would be served by a transmedia extension for this franchise, and what platforms would be suitable, according to this kind of movie.

























MOVIE SUMMARY The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a faustian morality tale, set in the present day. It is about Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), who has a traveling theatre show which is an imaginarium. Together with his daughter Valentina (Lily Cole), his clumsy-expert Anton (Andrew Garfield) and dwarf Percy (Verne Troyer), they bring the world of imagination to the scabby & raw downbeat surroundings of London, England. Doctor Parnassus is a thousand years old and a character who seems to be traveling forever and ever, bringing his sort box of tricks along with him. In which he can get people to immerse themselves to the imaginary world, to find some kind of redemption through the realms of the imagination. Parnassus is gifted with the unique ability to guide the imagination of others, but he is doomed with a secret. A long time ago Doctor Parnassus made a bet with Mr. Nick (Tom Waits), the embodiment of the devil, in which Parnassus won immortality by collecting twelve disciples. Many centuries later, Parnassus found out that immortality actually was a curse and that the devil let him win. Times would change; people didn’t want to listen to his stories anymore. When meeting his one true love, he did not stand any chance because he had the appearance of a very old man. So he made another pact with the devil. He would get his youth back in exchange for his first-born. He or she would become property of Mr. Nick on the day of it’s 16th birthday. Along comes Tony (Heath Ledger), the traveling gang found him during a dark stormy night, hanged under a bridge, in a white suit, with marks on his forehead. Tony is a charismatic but, somehow untrustworthy, somehow unlikeable guy, and yet seems to attract the attention of the public. Tony inveigles himself into the traveling imaginarium show. While Valentina is coming closer and closer to her 16th birthday, Doctor Parnassus keeps on getting more desperate on losing his daughter to her approaching fate. When Mr. Nick arrives to collect, he can’t stand himself to make a new bet and to renegotiate. From now on, the one to seduce the first five souls wins Valentina.


THE HERO’S JOURNEY STORY CONSTRUCTION Act 1 – Beginning: Order 1 – The ordinary world The story starts of in modern day London. In the first few scenes we see a clear contrast between today’s society ( such as: driving cars – the wagon of the Imaginarium that is carried by horses, the drunk modern people who are having a ‘good-time’while drinking, vomiting and chasing girls – the louche and old looking dressed theatre troupe.) After a while it starts to become very clear that this isn’t a normal theatre/attraction, but it is actually a doorway to the imagination, guided and hosted by the astonishing doctor Parnassus. 2 – The call to adventure The introduction of the Imaginarium, by Mercury is the start of the bigger and underlaying story and initiates the audience (both in the movie as the viewer). ‘Enter into the mind of the great Doctor Parnassus. He has the power to empower your mind. Let Doctor Parnassus open your imagination.’ After the two mirror ‘incidents’, the drunk guy and the kid, we are given the idea that the mirror is ‘the rabbit hole’and leads to an imaginary world. Within there actually exists a difference between good and bad, light and dark. Which path will you choose when you have entered the inside? After the drunk went in, Parnassus is saying two very important sentences: ‘He won, I lost, again.’ and ‘Will we miss him? I don’t think so.’ We learn that he was given a second chance, but choose poorly. In the contrary, after the kid at the fair went in, Parnassus is saying: ‘ One little devil out of the fire…’ implying that his kid (read: soul) barely made it. Parnassus is definitely doing some kind of important and committing job. 3 – Refusal of the call From the moment we get to know that the man in black comes to ‘collect’ one with a ‘sweet sixteen’, we learn that this is something Parnassus really cares about. He feels desperate that he can’t do anything about it. ‘There must be something…’he is saying. We learn


that there are three days left till Valentina’s 16th birthday. When Parnassus is telling the story about his life to his daughter Valentina, the wagon suddenly stops. Valentina leaves the room and Parnassus draws the hanging man from out of his tarot cards. This is the moment when they find the man in the white suit, hanging under the bridge. Just before we heard the conviction with which Parnassus used to speak. This should be a sign to him, but in the contrary. Once again he blinded his own sight with liquor and screams: ‘Why are you fishing dead people out of the river. Leave him be for the love of god, he’s dead. Now let’s get the hell out of here before the fuzz shows up.’ 4 – Meeting with the mentor The following morning the man in white awakes and can’t remember a thing. After he meets with Anton and Percy, Parnassus also wakes up, but with a hangover, and meets him for the first time. It is till this moment that Parnassus finds out the man in white actually is the hanged man from under the bridge. Anton shows him the stone which they found with him to make it even more clearly for Parnassus that this is the sign from the tarot card. He recognizes the marks and asks: ‘You’ve been sent by Mr. Nick, haven’t you? ’He’s got another proposition for me, hasn’t he, a new wager, another twist in the game? He can’t help himself, can he? Thank God for that!’ A few minutes later we see the Devil in the wagon, telling Parnassus that the man in white isn’t his guy and that his name is: Tony Shepherd, he runs a charity. Act 2 – Middle: Chaos 5 – Crossing the threshold The assumption that the Devil probably can’t help himself becomes the truth. He offers Parnassus another one, to save his daughter. The first to obtain five souls wins Valentina. Parnassus agrees to the deal and Tony is there to help the troupe, he joins the show. At the same time Tony starts to remember his past or didn’t he even forget a thing at all? In return for saving his life, Tony offers his help to Parnassus. 6 – Tests, allies and enemies Since the arrival of Tony, there seems to be a divided atmosphere within the gang. From the first moment Valentina seems really interested in


him. Because of Anton’s love for her, he is feeling the exact opposite and is challenging Tony in different kind of ways. Meanwhile Percy seems very doubtful about Tony’s intention, while Parnassus is having high hopes for him and his assistance. Tony starts to learn about the potential of the Imaginarium and its deeper layers. Another important happening is the starting romance between him and Valentina. 7 – Approach to the inmost cave We arrive to the day of Valentina’s 16th birthday. This is the final day in which they have to earn the five souls. They have already lost one, the shopping lady. In the morning, after the gang wakes up, Tony implies a change for the show could. ‘Be more bold, less colorful. Change the style, change the audience. To make it more ‘modern’’. It works! In the shopping mall, Tony guides the souls that enter the Imaginarium. Mr. Nick applauds when the troupe collect the first four out of five souls. They are almost there… 8 – The ordeal The following moment the Russian mafia arrives. They appear to be on a search for Tony. When they recognize each other, Tony flees to the inside of the Imaginarium. Within he is confronted with himself and the past that follows him. This prevents Tony from reaching illumination. While he is trying to reach the clouds, his near-death is illustrated by him falling from the skies between tombstones on a graveyard. Anton appears and desperately tries to catch him. Nevertheless, the mobsters get to Tony and try to hang him. At that moment, Parnassus and the Devil illustrate the next possible ways for the mafia gang, the good and the bad. They choose the easy way, run to their mother, and explode. With the seduction of those 4 souls, adding up the one girl from the pub, the Devil now has overcome the wager. He collected the first five souls. Tony survives, but is left in his own imagination. 9 – The reward Tony comes clean about his past to Anton. He tells the story about the loan from the Russian mafia and how his intention was good all the way. He made a wrong decision, but has now seen his true self. He wants to reach for the clouds once again and asks Anton for help. Back in the wagon, the Devil appears. Parnassus knows it’s him and goes outside, confessing the loss and the prize he has to pay. But then


the Devil admits that the girl from the pub didn’t count. He’s playing Parnassus and using him as a toy. The troupe get’s one final chance: Tony. Act 3 – End: Resolution 10 – The road back With less than an hour to go, Tony figures that he could be the fifth soul. The moment he wants to enter the mirror, Anton stands in his way and they start to fight. Tony pushes Valentina into the mirror and pushes Anton of the wagon, which follows by Tony entering the mirror himself. Tony’s ultimate test: admit, accept and consider his past and overcome and resist worldly temptation. Suddenly, the test takes another turn when Valentina chooses the Devil’s side and becomes part of the wager instead of being the price. The Devil wins her, but offers Parnassus, yet again, another deal: If he can get a hold of the satanic markings on Tony’s head or better, to wipe him of the face of this universe, he’ll get his daughter back 11 – Resurrection Tony, on his way to enlightenment, reaches the top of the mountain, while the public is chasing him. There’s a strop awaiting him. Is he daring to give his life to save Valentina? Parnassus, instructed or better said misled by the Devil, is now toying with Tony. While Tony explains that Valentina can’t be the fifth, because she is the prize and it is his imagination, Parnassus chooses the side of the Devil, after which Tony dies. Mr. Nick arrives and tells Parnassus that he should know where his daughter is, he is her father. Parnassus, left behind in the imagination, realizes himself that this could be his punishment. Misguided, and probably never to see his daughter again. 12 – Return with the elixir After years of wandering through the desert, Parnassus can’t take it anymore and begs not to make any more choices. He then finds himself in the streets of London, in the same begging position as before. The sound of bells takes over the attention of Parnassus, as he looks he sees it is Valentina and follows her. When she enters a store, Parnassus comes to the conclusion that he found her, but lost her at the same time.


Percy than adds himself again to Parnassus’s side and their story start again. Can Parnassus resist the Devil this time?


THE HERO’S JOURNEY CHARACTER ARCHETYPES I PARNASSUS ~ MENTOR (- HERO) Parnassus mainly functions as mentor. And in particular for Tony, he is the Messiah who is sent by the heavens to help the troupe. Through the astonishing powers of Parnassus, one can reach their true potential. He is the gateway to the imagination of the self, the divine. (Partly mentor, because he spiritually liberates people.)

MR. NICK (DEVIL) ~ SHADOW (– HERALD&TRICKSTER) Mr. Nick, obviously embodies the dark, the shadow, since he is the Devil. (In this role of the Devil, he clearly has multiple side functions that we can distinguish from the Devil archetype, although it is part of it. Herald; he is the one offering the wagers & trickster; he always wants to play a never ending game.)

TONY SHEPHERD ~ HERO (- SHAPESHIFTER) Tony, wearing white and the pin of a butterfly, is the representation of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, sent by the heavens to help the troupe of Parnassus. To save his daughter and the Imaginarium. (Because of his manipulating behavior we cannot decide whether he has good intentions or was sent by the Devil.)

ANTON ~ ALLY (- HERALD) Anton is a typical example of the Ally character. He shows his emotional connection with everyone, including the Imaginarium itself. He treats it, as if it is sacred. (Although Anton being an ally, his love for Valentina can blind him in some moments, this derived him from his goals. All this led to difficulties for the story’s hero. ) We know little about his past.


THE HERO’S JOURNEY CHARACTER ARCHETYPES II PERCY ~ ALLY Percy has the right intention. He is there to assist Parnassus on his journey. Percy always shows the possibility of the opposite behavior. What can happen, but also what could have happened if he acted otherwise?

VALENTINA aka SCRUMPY ~ ALLY Valentina is the main essence for the story. She is the daughter of Parnassus and the one Mr. Nick comes to collect on her 16th birthday. She is the representation of temptation, but also the illustration of purity. She is there to assist her father.

RUSSIAN MAFFIA ~ THRESHOLD GUARDIAN The Russian mafia is the representation of Tony’s vague past. They are Tony’s obstacles, the ones that withhold him on his way to illumination. And at first they seem to be with a total that automatically leads to the eventual loss of the bet.

THE ONES THAT FEATURE THE IMAGINATION - HERALD The ones that go inside of the Imaginarium are the ones that depict and illustrate the spiritual loss in modern society. When inside, the mirror, read reflection, it shows their personal duality, material and immaterial attachment and they are all led to a choice. Implying the roads of the metaphorical ‘Angel and Devil’, the choice between despair and spiritual enlightenment.


NEGATIVE CAPABILITIES AND HERMENEUTIC CODES Type of codes: Cultural (Cul), Character (Cha), Chronological (Chr), Geographic (Geo), Environmental (Env), Ontological (Ont)





Opening overview with St Paul's Cathedral.


2 3

Time is shown on hobo’s watch. Movie title screen

00:01:35 00:01:38



Cul, Geo, Ont

5 6

Another shot of St Paul's Cathedral – other side – Imaginarium is placed beside this curch. People kicked out of bar Opening Imaginarium.

00:01:47 00:02:08

Cul Cul


Front view Imaginarium.




Anton talking as Mercury.


Cha, Cul


Nobody paying attention – hobo drinking canned beer.



Anton as mercury making hand gestures. Curtain opens, we see Parnassus.


Cul, Geo, Env, Ont Cul, Cha


Cha, Cul


Type of Code: Cul, Geo, Env, Ont Cul, Ont Cul

Questions: Why this particular church?

Is 2 o’clock of importance? What is the creature at the bottom of the page? What does the name Parnassus mean and why doctor? Why the church again?

Why is the bar called Medusa? What do all these occult symbols mean? Why the all seeing – Masonic eye? Who is Mercury and why is he the messenger of the gods? Why wings on his helmet and sandals? Is this a depiction of modern society? Do the gestures have a meaning? Why does it seem like dr. Parnassus is levitating? Why has dr. Parnassus painted red on his face and there seems to be white as well? Why is dr. Parnassus holding a Lotus flower in his hands?



English guy with drunk tongue and accent, coming out of the bar with his friends.



Mercury talking – Valentina and mirror introduction, they turn around on stage.


14 15

Percy dressed as creature. Drunk guy in mirror and gets lured by Valentina as ‘siren’.

00:03:44 00:4:58


Valentina is awaiting the drunk to come closer.


17 18

Drunk enters mirror. Drunk gets kicked by Valentina.

00:05:13 00:05:16

19 20 21

Drunk falls with face in mud. Face of the drunk is changed. Woods open up.

00:05:27 00:05:40 00:06:02


Camera zooms out.


23 24

Swinging green troll hands Space and jellyfish

00:06:18 00:06:24

25 26

Drunk dodges pin Overview of stairway on mountain – angel choir sounds 12x12x12 STEP PROGRAM GOOD LUCK

00:06:51 00:07:01

There seems to be a golden incense holder on stage, why? All eastern spiritual mysticism? Chr Parnassus is as old as time, over a 1000 years old, why? Cha, Cul “Oh my God. Oh, check out the lights” is this a reference to the introduction of spiritual enlightenment? Cha, Cul “Transcend the heights on beauty’s wings.”is this again a reference to enlightenment? Is Valentina depicted as female temptation or as an angel? “If you must scour the squalid depths with Putrid’s brother, Stench…”Is anton referring to the wasted people? Cha, Cul As what creature is he dressed? Cul Again Valentina in the clean white dress. Is she again the female temptation or an angel? Cul Dressed in white and holding a little white dove. Is she the representation of the holy spirit? Env What is this new world/forrest? Cha Is this a metaphor for the mind to get punished? Cha, Cul More punishment? Cha Why did his face change? Cha, Cul Are the bottles on the floor a translation of the guy’s alcoholism? Cul, Cha Is the guy, with his bottles, in the gutter? Cha What are these creatures? Cul, Cha, Is this a metaphor for the drunk Env ‘feeling’? Cha, Cul Through the eye of the needle? Cul Is this the path to salvation?




Why 12x12x12?



Mr Nicks Lounge Bar


29 30 31

Talking man of art door is talking. Parnassus talks. Policeman looks around and behind mirror. Anton as Mercury talks.

00:07:48 00:08:11 00:08:58

Cul, Cha, Env Cha, Cul Cha, Cul Env


Cul, Cha


Woods open up – new landscape appears.




Boy rolls out of paper from the attraction.


Cul, Cha

35 37

Man in mirror Man in black with hat and sigaret.

00:12:49 00:13:07

Cha Cha, Chr


Man in black talks to Parnassus.


Chr, Cha


Parnassus talks to Percy.


Cha, Cro


Valentina talks to Anton and Percy. Parnassus with Tarot.





Parnassus starts his story to Valentina.


Cha, Chr, Geo


41 42



Black Hooded figure on horse walking through the snowy mountains. Overview of sanctuary.



The other side? Why Mr. Nick? A new temptation? He won, I lost, again?! There’s nothing behind? Just a door going outside? ‘For those with eyes to see and ears to hear’ is this a reference for that not everyone can experience the enchantment ? Is this the imagination of the boy that just went through the mirror? Parnassus says: ‘One little devil out of the fire’does this mean that the boy has been saved? Who is this man? He says: ‘it’s been a while’, why and what is he referring to? ‘Don’t we love our children? She’s ripe as a peach. Sweet little sixteen. And all mine’What does he mean? ‘He’s come to collect’ who is he and why is he here to collect? Why three days left? Why do they say that she is 12 years old? Why the angel? The tarot card TEMPERANCE. Why centuries ago?

What was he doing as a monk in a sanctuary? Who did he meet? And why is he saying that none of us ever hopes to meet this figure? Cha, Cul, Is this a characterization of Env satan? Env, Cul, Geo

Why all the eastern mystic related carvings? Elephants,



Overview of levitating monks



Parnassus as young monk



Voice of hooded figure and Parnassus talking



We see the man in black with a tape recorder and Parnassus



Percy is there also as a young monk



Different monks saying part of the story while there mouth is being shut by the power of the recorder.


51 52


Env, Cul, Cha

Buddha’s, The All Seeing Eye, the Lotus Flower. Are they under a giant bell?

Why are the monks levitating on carpets? What is in the middle? Cha, Cul, Is he sitting on a broken tree? Env Is this the Tree of Life? Cha, Cul ‘We tell the eternal story.’’The story that sustains the universe.’ ‘The story without which there is nothing.’ Cha, Cul, Why is the man in black Chr interviewing Parnassus? Why is he doing so with the old recorder? Cha, Chr Why is Percy there also? Is he as old as Parnassus is? Saying that he will gather a thousand what? ‘I will gather a thousand… Cha, Cul, ‘Having been brought to the Chr limit of his endurance…’

The suited man in black blows his recorder Man in black talks


Cul, Cha



Bird shits on the hat from the man in black



‘Yet the forces of evil could not prevail…’ ‘..our calmness of…’What are these sentences about? Is this a reference to war/fight and blowing the smoke of a gun? ‘The story stopped. I freed you from all of this nonsense, you can go shopping, have fun!’Like he is the one that brought Parnassus salvation? Parnassus replies: ‘This is a sign, a message, that bird was a messenger from a distant place we know nothing about. It has



Man in black and Parnassus still talking.



Flashforward to the now where Parnassus is telling his story.



Parnassus telling and getting a large book.



First page of the book, with title.



Second page of the book.


nothing to do with us here. Somewhere in this world, right now, someone else is telling a story. A saga or a romance, it doesn’t matter, it is sustaining the universe. That’s why we’re still here, you can’t stop stories being told.’Is this a metaphor for the divine and holy power, the Great Architect, It? Cul, Cha, Man in black replies with: Chr ‘That’s a weak hypotheses…’ In which Parnassus replies: ‘I don’t think so.’ After that the man in black says to Parnassus: ‘You’re probably not a betting man, are you?’Is this again a representation of duality? Cha, Cul First acoount that the man in suit is actually the devil. And more importantly, that Parnassus made a wager with him. Why is he depicted in a black suit, with a bowler hat and a classy sigaret? Cha, Cul, Parnassus tells about the wager Chr and that he had to attract 12 disciples. Are they referring to the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ? Cul The title of the book is: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Does this mean he is reading and re-living his own (life) story? Cul Again the duality, in battle. They seem like monks vs. men of the church? Fear, danger & the fabled bliss of ignorance vs. the power of the imagination to transform & illuminate our lives. With this, a paradise is depicted. What esoteric meaning is behind



We see Parnassus, in different times. At his side is Percy. They find themselves as hobo’s on the street.


Cul, Chr, Env, Geo


Parnassus stops in the middle of his story because the wagon stops. He takes a new tarot card.




Overview of wagon and bridge.


Cul, Ont


We see Anton and the man in the white suit, hanging under the bridge.


Cha, Cul


Anton is lowered down the bridge.


Cul, Cha


The man in white is dragged underneath the wagon.




We see the devil appear from behind the wagon, standing on


Cha, Cul

all of this? Why all the symbolism. Again the All Seeing Eye, angels, Parnassus depicted as a Jesus figure, why all the freemason/illuminati connections? The card clearly states: 12 and 12 in both top corners. It is the Hanged Man/L’APPESO. What does this card mean? Apparently this is BlackFriars bridge. In reality, a couple of years ago they found a man hanging from the same bridge. It was said that the man found hanging from this bridge had a close connection to the Vatican and the Itallian Maffia. He was called: God’s Banker. Why these references into this movie? Why is he wearing a white suit, is this the contrary to the devil, the savior/messiah, the prince on the white horse? Why does he have symbols on his forehead? It seems to be the All Seeing Eye, again, and the Golden Ratio/PI. Why this symbolism? Is there meaning to the fact that Anton is wearing a butterfly suit in which he is lowered? Is this already a sign for the transformational aspect of the movie? Is there symbolism or a meaning to the golden pipe that the man in white coughs out of his throat? The devil is holding a black umbrella, again an expression as


the bridge. 64

Percy is waking up.



Percy introduces himself by his full name.



Meeting with the man in white.



Anton comes into screen as a creature of some kind. Parnassus becomes aware of the hanging man.



Parnassus has a closer look at the man in white.



Overview with store: Homebase



Man in white puts on white mask.



Parnassus drunk on stage.



Devil enters wagon.




symbolism for the dark and protection? Cul Why is Percy sleeping with/carrying a (eastern/arabic) walking stick and outfit with hat? Cha, Cul Is there reason to the full name of Percy, which is: Percival St. Antoine della Touraine et Sansepolcro da Piemonte III? Cha, Cul Is the fact that he can’t remember his name already a sign for transformation? Cul Is this a mythical creature with a meaning to it? Cha, Cul, What has the stone, with Chr esoteric symbols the same as the tarot card, to do with the hanging man and what is there a function? Cha, Parnassus says he recognizes Chr, Cul the signs and then asks: ‘You have been sent by Mr. Nick, haven’t you?’ Is he? This is the first time we hear the name of the devil. Env, Cul Again the contradiction between normal society and the theatre traveling troupe. Cha, Cul Is this reference there on purpose and does it say something about the man that wears it? (Medico della peste) It was worn by the plague doctors. Cha, Cul Singing a children’s song with the lyric: ‘I'm a little teapot short and stout. Here's my handle here's my spout.’ It’s about boiling tea in a teapot. Is this an Alice in Wonderland reference? Chr First the alarm clock says: five past eleven, then in the shot after the next it says nine-



Mr. Nick talks to Parnassus.



Mr. Nick suggests another bet.



Parnassus in wagon.



Outside, Anton and Percy arrive with groceries.



Tony opens newspaper.


thirty-five. Why? Cha, Chr Mr. Nick says that the man in white is not his man, but then he tells Parnassus his name: Tony Sheperd (is this a reference to the occupation known as Shepherd, which Jesus was? Cul, Cha ‘It is never over & first to five souls.’ Meaning the game of duality will never stop? And is there a reason for the number five? In Roman writing a triangle, but upside down. Chr. Cha Parnassus finds out that Tony portrayed on a page of ‘Idealhouse’ a magazine that Valentina carried around. Cul ‘George thought doves would be better.’ Instead of Bertie, the chicken they used in their show. Is this again a reference to Christ and the Holy Spirit? Chr, On the front page The Time, it Cha, Cul, says two important things. First: Ont Missing: Disgraced Head of Children’s Charity with a picture of Tony next to it. Then, totally different, an add says

Free DVD: The Ancient Egyptians. Does this have


Anton plays the pipe/flute that they found with Tony.




Dialogue between Percy and


Cha, Cul

something to do with all the Illuminati/Masonic symbolism and what does the director wants us to see in it? He plays ‘Ode to Joy by Beethoven’, is there meaning to this? Tony remembers that it is his pipe, but needed the newspaper for the remembrance of his name. Did he really forget everything? Parnassus refers to Anton as a




Anton hears what Percy and Parnassus are talking about.



Still dialogue between Parnassus and Percy.



Parnassus talks to Percy.



Women talk with Anton.



Women struggle to stop with it, Tony get’s downed by two men from the bystanders.



Tony joins Anton at the pier.



Tony asks about the mirror.


‘little snake’ and then Percy refers to ‘the other one, the rattle snake’ in which Parnassus replies: ‘Tony?’ Chr, Cha We learn that Anton was taken off from the street by Parnassus. What is his back story? Cha, Cul Parnassus suggests offering his daughter’s hand to the one that helps him obtain the five souls. Is he still playing with her life? What does this say about the moral and character of Parnassus? Cha ‘You’re never wrong, are you?’What does this say about Percy? Chr The Imaginarium can’t have two souls at the same time, Anton says to them. What happens when the stronger imagination takes over the weaker one? Cha, Ont Tony says: ‘Don’t shoot the messenger. ‘ Is this again a direct link to Jesus/Messiah? Later this appeared to be the latest sentence ever said on camera by actor Heath Ledger. Cul, Cha, ‘He wants the world to rule Chr itself’ Anton is saying about the intention of Parnassus. Is this the connection between whether humans live a good or bad life, a troubled or pure soul? Enlightenment? Cul Anton replies about the mirror: ‘It’s everything. It’s you, it’s me, it’s us. It holds the universe inside behind that mirror. Is this about the oneness of everything? And the reflection



Look-a-like of Valentina.



Parnassus looking towards the love of his life.



Parnassus in boat with his love.



The boat enters the bad part of the river and they see the devil on that side.



Dialogue between Parnassus and Tony.



Tony shows magazine to Parnassus.



Parnassus wants to know Valentina’s opinion on Tony.


in life for every individual, hence the use of a mirror? Parnassus tells te story about Chr, him and the love of his life, Cha, Valentina’s mother. What is her Geo back story? Cul In the back the add says: DRUGS SODA Freescription. Is this a reference to modern society and the comparison between mind-altering substances and our ‘fakefood-industry’? The boat depicts astrological Cul, signs and at the bow there’s Geo, the head of Egyptian God Env Anubis, representing the afterlife, imaged as the animal canine. Are the floating on the river of life? Cul, Cha, The other side of the river is Env totally contaminated with death. The river might be a reference to the Indian river Ganghes? Is this a metaphorical depiction of the price Parnassus has to pay for selfish reasons? Cul Tony has a couple of suggestions for the show. To make it different, because not many seem attracted. One, change the style & two, change the audience. Is this repackaging to lower the spiritual threshold of modern society? Cul What does this image of a person looking through the okay sign of her fingers mean? Cul ‘Do you believe in coincidence?’’No, there is no such thing. Isn’t that what you’ve always told me, everything has a reason?’



Overview of ‘new’ Imaginarium.


Cul, Env

Scrumpy replies. Is this again an umbrella about spirituality? Instead of asking money, they add a box with the writing: ‘Please take generously’ An opposite marketing trick? To fool, but guide, the audience? To show the spiritual lesson of giving, and not taking? Why is Valentina dressed as Eve, with an apple hanging above her, an example from the garden of delights? Temptation? Why the tri-dimensional Masonic Checkerboard? Duality? Is Anton the representation of the Ego? Fat and still eating. The lust for more than you can take? And is Parnassus, now dressed as a modern man with eastern looks, in total white, but with his red turban. Is this the comparison between the skin/white ashes and red-third eye? Did they use white as a sign of the Messiah/Savior? Percy is dressed as an less fortunate African- American third world kid. Is this to show the distinguishment between Western society and poor circumstances in continents such as Africa? Tony again wears his Venetian Carnival mask, the one of the plague doctors. Is he hiding behind it? What is its meaning? Again, they whistle ‘Ode to Joy by Beethoven’ Why? The underline of the Imaginarium changed to: ‘More exclusive than Eve’ Again a marketing wise trick? A



Tony talks to household/shopping women.



Tony says to Parnassus.



First woman enters mirror in shopping mall.



Tony says to Valentina.



Imagination of first woman from the shopping mall.



Lady sees herself in mirror.



Lady takes of Tony’s mask




reflection on sexism in modern society? A certain choice to aim for middle-aged household wives, hence the shopping centre where they stand with the Imaginarium? Again the symbolism of the Lotus flower representing the purification process? Cul ‘Late, Late for a very important date!’ a clear reference to ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and the business/hast of modern society. Cul ‘All right, trance Doctor’ Eastern mysticism? Chr. Again a clock depicting 6 o’clock, why? Is the time of any importance? Cul ‘There are so many temptations.’ Again a reference about the story of Adam and Eva in the Garden of Delights. Cul, Cha, Why under water and over Env water? Is the beauty of the new shoes and necklaces an example of her materialistic, though beautiful life? Again the Lotus flower as a representation of the path to enlightenment/purification? Cha Lady sees herself thin and young again. Is this a reflection of her purity and the beauty standard of Western society? Cha, Chr This is the first time we see another face on Tony. Is this only because of the premature death of Ledger or does it have a significant role in the film as well? Cha, Chr Why does the representation of



Tony and lady are dancing on the leaf of a Lotus flower.



Still dancing and reaching the top of the water.



Buddha’s belly opening up.



Devil behind counter of motel.



Lady looking with affection to the ‘Love’ motel, behind her the desert.



Lady wanting to go over the bridge.



Tony and lady talking.



Tony says to lady.


Tony, being the lady’s ideal man, name himself after ‘Roger’? And then after looking at himself in the mirror, he changes it to ‘Barry’, why? Cha, Cul The imagination of Tony seems to interfere with the one of the lady. Again Valentina as his temptation? Floating upwards to illustrate the spiritual path? Cul Buddha just below the surface of the water, just before sticking his head out. Is the lady ahead of enlightenment? Cul, Cha, The two Valentina Chr, Env ‘temptations’ open up the belly of Buddha. In there it shows a Motel named: ‘One Nite Stand’. Is this the illustration of the wrong side/path to choose? Cul, Cha The devil’s side, meaning the wrong path? Is the portrait of Jesus there to elude you to the ‘right’ path? Env, Cul The desert behind as illustration for the path of endurance? Tony turning around as being the guide to the right direction? Env, Cul Bridge to the dark side? River black to even illustrate this more? Cul ‘I believe you’re meant to go alone. It’s one of the rules. One imagination at a time, free from the influence of another.’ A illustration of the collective consciousness experiencing itself subjectively? Cul, Cha Again the sentence ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’ being spoken by Tony.



Overview of lady’s duality



Tony’s recommendation.



Tony explains to lady.



Tony still talking.



Overview of river transforming.



Lady drifts away in gondola.



Tony get’s thrown out of the mirror.



Lady get’s out of the imaginarium. Lady leaves all of her material goods.


(Jesus/guide/Messiah?) Cha, Cul A large dark triangle separating the two sides. Again a depiction of our mind’s duality? With the river being the balanced flow? Env, Cul Why the Gondola and again the god Anubis, God of Death? Cul, Cha, Why Rudolph Valentina, James Ont Dean en Princess Diana? To die and live forever, meaning to stay forever young? Spiritual transformation/enlightenment? Cul ‘Your sacrifice must be absolutely pure, you have to let go all of your worldly possessions’. Meaning let go of all your materialistic attachment? Cul Why is the river transforming as the devil? What is the meaning of the cobra? Cul The devil seems defeated, has she chosen right? Chr, Cul Is this the time reference? Time stands still when inside of the imagination? What does it say about time itself? Cul Why the swing? Childish fun?


Cha, Cul

120 121

Overview mall, black car arrives. Overview of Tony’s imagination.

01:09:13 01:10:03

Chr. Env


Real estate lady approaches the Russians.




Meaning she is unattached from material desires, meaning enlightened? Why is it still six o’clock? Why this kind of landscape? Why do the mobsters speak English? Are the mobsters a translation of Tony’s past? Is this a translation of Tony, since he is the one on the add picture, misguidance or his way to illumination?



Lady talks.



Tony climbs ladder to the skies.



Magazines come down from the clouds.



Ladder breaks



Tony sees other girl on ladder.





Tony walks away standing on the broken ladder. Tony gets stuck.


Anton tries to catch Tony.



Parnassus/Police enter the imagination. Police sings.





Is this how Tony sees himself? Cul ‘Discover your true potential.’ Again a metaphor for enlightenment? Becoming rich and famous also a translation of the modern approach by Tony? Why the ‘organic’ food reference? Cul, Cha Is the ladder a depiction of the path to enlightenment aswell? Why the connection between rich by materialism and Tony, as depicted on the magazines? Cul, Ont How and why does Tony save Tibet? (‘Hailed as the great moral force by his holiness the Dalai Lama’) Why the Dalai Lama reference? Cul, Cha Meaning the path to enlightenment isn’t for everyone? Cul, Cha What does the girl in the white dress, standing on another ladder, mean? Who is she? Cha, Cul, Are the dark clouds a reference Env to dark side? Cha, Cul, Is the mobster pursuit for Tony Env his past that follows him, hence the dark clouds and the root sticking to the ladder? Can’t he escape? Cha, Cul Are the tombstones where Tony falls on a representation for his transformation/rebirth? Cul Is this the right/opposite path for the criminals? Cul ‘We love violence’ is this cultural characterization of the police in Western society? Is this also why they are dressed as lady-officers? Depicting cowards?



Old Russian lady appears.



Russian lady is robot Devil.



Gang argues about Tony.



Parnassus and Mr. Nick talking to each other.



Mr. Nick says to Parnassus



Parnassus tells the last part of his story to Valentina.



Antons shows newspaper.



Tony says to Anton.



Overview of Tony’s and


Cul, Cha

Is the calling from their Russian mother the ‘easy’ way out? Cha, ‘I’m going to Chicago, baby!’ Chr, Cul being shouted by the Devil, after he allured the four mobsters under the mother’s skirt, meaning he now won the five souls? (He already had one pub girl.) Cha, Cul Anton and Valentina arguing about Tony. Anton says to her that: ‘He saw his two faces.’ Again the meaning of duality in every human life? Chr, Cha Sal, the girl from the pub, doesn’t count. Why not? Can the Devil change the rules of the game? Chr. ‘Look at the time, it’s almost eleven’. Meaning they have only one hour left before the end of Valentina’s birthday, and with it the wager? Cha, What happened during the birth Chr, Geo of Valentina? What did happen to Parnassus? What did happen between the +- thirty years that Parnassus was with the mother of Valentina? What’s their story? What is the story of Valentina’s mother? How did Valentina grow up, what’s her story? Cha, Ont Tony Liar? Meaning a reference to Tony Blair? Ont ‘Don’t believe what you read in the newspaper!’A reference to modern society? ‘Especially The Mirror’ a contradiction to media truth and personal truth/reflection? Cha, Cul, Again the head of Anubis?


Valentina’s landscape, both lying in the gondola.



Sky turns black, Tony and Valentina hear someone crying.



Tony shouts to child.



Start of Tony’s world.



Tony and Valentina walk to the stage.



Tony runs from stage and walks into Valentina.





Valentina goes through ‘HIS’ mirror. Mr. Nick talks to Parnassus.


Overview of winter desert.



Parnassus begging in the streets of London.



Parnassus hears and sees Valentina?



Parnassus follows Valentina



Tony depicted as the man from the Ideal Home magazine, a representation of him pictured by Valentina? Cha Is the crying child a representation of the children from Tony’s charity? Cha, Why is Tony able to speak Chr, Geo Russian? Cul, Chr Why again ‘Ode to Joy by Beethoven’? Cul Why are the charity children dressed as cowboy and native American? Valentina suddenly appears in a red dress instead of the previously worn black one? Why? Cul, Cha, ‘Get out of my way, Christ!’ Chr meaning his is at the Devil’s side? Cha, Chr Why does Valentina pick the Devil’s side? Chr, Cul ‘…The markings on his head, do you know what that’s all about?’ meaning the Devil didn’t sent him? ‘Do they protect him? I’ve never been into the black magic stuff’referring to the Illuminati? Cul, Chr, We see the fragments of Env Parnassus’s life, the statues of the sanctuary, etc. Is this a depiction of his ultimate loss? Chr The sign now again says ‘give’ instead of ‘take’. Back to where it all began? Chr, Cha Do the bells around her ankle mean that she is still part of Parnassus? Cul Why is there a stuffed pig in her




Valentina goes inside store.


Chr, Cul


Parnassus sees the family of Anton, Valentina and their presumed child.


Chr, Cul




Parnassus and Percy selling carton board model pieces of the Imaginarium. Boy asks a question, Percy replies.




Cul, Chr

Devil approaches nuns.


Cha, Cul

purse? Is the pig a metaphor for that she is now part of normal – pig- society? Is there something to the name of the stor ‘Rain on 5th’? What happened to Anton and Valentina after the mirror? Who is their daughter? Do they have to start all over again? ‘Does it have a happy ending? Sorry, we can’t guarantee that!’ meaning the movie/life itself/the show? The Devil offers nuns the ‘red apple’. Again the illustration of temptation and that the Devil will never disappear?


FINAL LIST MIGRATORY CUES Below you can find the negative capabilities from the questions that remain unanswered from which I believe could be best used as a migratory cue. 3.

What is the creature at the bottom of the page?


Why is the bar called Medusa?


Who is Mercury and why is he the messenger of the gods?


As what creature is he dressed?


What are these hand creatures? And why do they come from space?


Is this a metaphor for the drunk ‘feeling’? The space and jellyfish

Questions above are all about certain creatures and their meaning. What are they, what do they do and where do they come from? 42.

What was he doing as a monk in a sanctuary?


Is he sitting on a broken tree? Is this the Tree of Life?


Why is he doing so with the old recorder?


Why is Percy there also? Is he as old as Parnassus is?


‘Having been brought to the limit of his endurance…’ ‘Yet the forces of evil could not prevail…’ ‘..our calmness of…’ What are these sentences about?


Parnassus tells about the wager and that he had to attract 12 disciples. Are they referring to the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ?


The title of the book is: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Does this mean he is reading and re-living his own (life) story?

Questions above are all about the life of Doctor Parnassus. What happened to the man? 81.

We learn that Anton was taken off from the street by Parnassus. What is his back story?

The question above is about the life of Anton. What happened to him and why is he with the Imaginarium? 83.

‘You’re never wrong, are you?’What does this say about Percy?

Who or what is he?



Anton replies about the mirror: ‘It’s everything. It’s you, it’s me, it’s us. It holds the universe inside behind that mirror. Is this about the oneness of everything? And the reflection in life for every individual, hence the use of a mirror?

What is the mirror? What is it’s backstory? How does it work? 136.

Sal, the girl from the pub, doesn’t count. Why not? Can the Devil change the rules of the game?

Is the devil already in charge? 138.

What happened during the birth of Valentina? What did happen to Parnassus? What did happen between the +- thirty years that Parnassus was with the mother of Valentina? What’s their story? What is the story of Valentina’s mother? How did Valentina grow up, what’s her story?

What is the backstory of the unraveling romance between Parnassus and the love of his life? What happened with Valentina during her younger years? And why did Valentina’s mother (60 years) die giving birth, what happened? 154.

What happened to Anton and Valentina after the mirror? Who is their daughter?

What happened to Anton, Valentina and their presumed daughter, after they got out of the mirror? How many years did pass after Parnassus sees them again? 167.

The Devil offers nuns the ‘red apple’. Again the illustration of temptation and the Devil that will never disappear?

Does this mean the story isn’t over yet? What is going to happen?


CONCLUSION OF THE ANALYSIS The movie is full of symbolism, occult meanings and depictions of modern life. It’s a reflection of the imaginations and thoughts of the people who go inside that mirror on the stage. As the movie unravels, more and more people enter the mirror, the mind of Doctor Parnassus. The imagery represents the temptations, the distractions, the decadence, and they are all overwhelmed. It is unless they drop it all, sacrifice worldly attachment, choose the long hard path, they'll come out an enlightened changed person. It’s about reclaiming spirituality in a time of ignorance, hence the odd traveling wagon show opposed near modern settings. In the sanctuary Parnassus tells Mr. Nick that they are the lifeblood of the world and their story is the only story. Mr. Nick proves them wrong by shutting their mouths, but Parnassus supposes someone else in the world is telling a story. Meaning all religions have it wrong. It’s all of our stories. I believe there is a truth, an enlightenment, to be found in everything. The ancients knew it, but it was forgotten long ago. And also, it’s an ancient idea that we manifest events and things, past, present, future, that we are all part of a one-consciousness. The story is a reference to the ancient mystery’s and knowledge. And Terry Gilliam is trying to tell us again, as Anton says in that mystical phrase, ‘for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.’ The wagon is loaded with symbols, from ancient Egyptian, Greek, Buddhist, etc. The illuminated great all-seeing eye in pyramid, twin pillars, Anton dressed as Mercury. Parnassus in various Asian and exotic clothing, has acquired all his power through his immortal years, it’s indecipherable, and yet maybe that's the point. This is antiquated spiritual imagery that most people are ignorant of and do not care. The troupe has a very hard time gaining an audience in the modern world that worships consumerism. Later, Tony, a smooth talker marketing man, comes in and changes the design of the show and stage, to modernize it, and it does the trick. In the ancient book of Parnassus, he explains to his daughter Valentina that it is fear that runs the world and how to control it (Mr. Nick portrayed amongst priests). Mr. Nick believes in the ‘necessities of danger, fear and the fabled bliss of ignorance.’ However, Parnassus says it’s about joy, “the power of the imagination to transform and illuminate our lives.’ In the first wager, the one that obtains the first to 12 disciples wins, Dr. P wins immortality. The two immortals run these battles with mankind, they gamble because it’s interesting to them, or else things get boring.


Percy is like Jiminy Cricket, the consciousness. This becomes most clear during the end of the movie, in which Percy suddenly is back at Parnassus his side. Again explaining both paths and consequences of Parnassus’s possible choice. In my opinion, Parnassus isn’t all that good of a person actually, for he bets lives for selfish reasons. Evil Mr. Nick even seems to have a heart near the end, offering to gamble again so Parnassus can get his daughter back. These main story elements about what pushes and pulls mankind through the ages, and which school of thought governs us, saves us or destroys us, is probably the main interesting and powerful thing about the movie To jump into the part where it is necessary to choose between what kind of people would be served by the possible transmedia extension, I’ll have a closer look to what connections with what kind of audience can be made. The story is loaded with deeper, spiritual meaning. So the best target group for this kind of production most definitely can’t be a very young audience. It has to be a group that is already able to reason, starting from the age of approximately 18 years old. It is important that they are already an active part of the online and digital world. Because of the symbolism it could be an extension in which more of the entire story gets explained in sort of a quest kind of approach. Use your imagination and research capabilities, in order to find the missing links. An artificial reality game could be the right option for instance. The target group must be pointed in the direction of an audience that wants to participate in this kind of adventure. It’s presumable that this would lead to some form of online community/platform, in which the players will discuss and reveal their discoveries. Think of groups such as fanatic World of Warcraft/League of Legends players, movie lovers and people that are into conspiracy theories.



IMDB. (2015). The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Retrieved from IMDB: Kermode, M. (2009, December 30). Mark Kermode Reviews The Imaginarium of

Doctor Parnassus. Retrieved from Youtube: VC. (2010, April 5). "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" and Heath Ledger's

Sacrifice. Retrieved from Vigilant Citizen: Wikipedia. (2015). Faust. Retrieved from Wikipedia: Wikipedia. (2015). The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Retrieved from Wikipedia: Wikipedia. (2015). The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. Retrieved from Wikipedia: Writers


MOVIE ANALYSIS - The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus  
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