I haven't written anything mildly interesting in a while. I've been having some adventures with the BBC, and have been too far away from an internet connection and the mental ability to write anything. But now that's finished and I've watched a film. Yes. With The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Terry Gilliam said that he just wanted to 'relax and make something joyous and playful'. It's the sort of film that happens when a director is allowed to do anything they want. Doctor Parnassus' travelling troupe set up shop in the middle of a street and try to entice people into their magical mirror. Inside they're presented with a projection of their imagination, which is divided into happy fluffy things and the darker temptations of the devil. They have to make a choice, and not many of them choose the happy fluffy things. These dreamy worlds are Gilliam's license to go mad. Anything and everything can be shoved into these rainbow fantasies. It's where the 'joyous and playful' bit comes in. Inception's dreamscapes are almost realistic compared to this. Outside the visual spectacle, the cold reality is all puddles, shopping centres, and drunk people. The Imaginarium is a nice place to be. It justifies the (sadly necessary) changing faces of the central character. It has giant ladders that turn into stilts. It makes you lose track of the plot. This is a confident and strange film that knows exactly what it wants to do.
And it comes with a useful reminder. It is almost always a bad idea to make a deal with the devil. If the deal is immortality in return for giving the devil your first-born daughter, the last thing you should do is have a daughter. Doctor Paranassus becomes forgetful in his old age. The devil always wins, especially if he's played by Tom Waits. He's the one who rightly advised us to 'keep the devil way down in the hole'.