The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus/Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

YEAR: 2009, WRITER: Terry Gilliam & Charles McKeown, DIRECTOR: Terry Gilliam, BUDGET: $30 million (estimated), GROSS: $7,689,458

YEAR: 2010, WRITER: Edgar Wright & Michael Bacall (screenplay), Bryan Lee O'Malley (graphic novels), DIRECTOR: Edgar Wright, BUDGET: $60 million (estimated), GROSS: $29,267,130 (as of Sept. 5th 2010)

while photography is pretty singularly a visual medium and books are a medium very much completely reliant on the words, film is an art form that spans mediums. the words are just as important a component to the success of a film (i mean artistic success - not commercial) as is how the film looks and what it does visually, both large and small (people who talk about film tend to sometimes forget that a low-budget film, or one that forgoes large sets and special effects, is still making a visual statement).

what is often the case though - and one of the reasons why i think so many pretentious film people tend to look down their nose at big-budget films and movies with lots of special effects - is that many film makers focus their attention on the visual aspect of film making but forget about how important the words/story/script are - which leads to films like The Transformers I and II, Terminator Salvation, Ecks Vs Sever and i could go on, but you get what i'm saying). i bring this up, because i recently watched two films with strong artistic visions that also remembered how important the text was as well: The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

no one familiar with terry gilliam's work could ever accuse him of not having a strong vision - but it could be said that sometimes that vision just doesn't always work beyond looking good - yes, i am talking about Tideland (having not seen it, i can't comment on The Brothers Grimm). what about Brazil you ask? well, that is another one of gilliam's visionary works, but it can be a little confusing to some.

however, with Dr. Parnassus, he has created a gorgeous film that is a feast for the eyes and doesn't alienate the audience either. when characters are in the imaginarium it actually makes sense. you understand what is being represented and how it ties into the story. and speaking of the story, it is grand and interesting. gilliam isn't scared of grand story themes and here he takes on the classic deal-with-the devil scenario (in The Fisher King - my favorite of his films - he went with the holy grail).

what struck me about Scott Pilgrim, in regards to the graphic themes and ideas, was how well it used and stuck with the pop-up words and the video-game and comic book visual cues throughout the film.

there are so many movies out there that start strong when it comes to that sort of thing, but as the film progresses it fissiles out like it was just some kind of gimmick. but with Scott Pilgrim it is a core feature of the film and the vision of the film makers and they use it to full effect. and beyond that, the film is very funny, original and really fun.

although Scott Pilgrim and Dr. Parnassus are two very different films without any real connection, i couldn't help but think of them in the same discussion of visual ideas and the good and bad use of said ideas in movies. and these are two cases of good uses in very good films.

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