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First Look: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

As director Terry Gilliam says in this teaser video, his fantastical movie The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is "full of magic and wonder, the stuff of dreams." Now having caught a few clips from the movie at Comic-Con (and you can check them out after the jump), I think that's even putting it mildly. This is a lush, dark, whimsical and chilling film that I think we'll feel more than just watch.

Most people know this movie as "Heath Ledger's Last Appearance," and after his death, three high-profile actors (Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell) stepped in to complete his role. As for the actual plot, it follows an immortal doctor (played by Christopher Plummer) with a traveling theatrical group and a magical mirror who must give up his daughter (Lily Cole) to the devil (Tom Waits) on her sixteenth birthday. Ledger/Depp/Law/Farrell play a masked supporting character named Tony (after Tony Blair).

In San Diego, Gilliam explained some more about the movie and Ledger's involvement:

I don't think it's ever happened before that a main actor dies, and three A-list actors come in and take over his part. It tells you how much they cared about him. It was unbelievably brave and foolish. There was no time to prepare. We had Johnny for one day, three and a half hours. He just came in and did it. I'd shown them some clips of some of the stuff that Heath had done. I didn't know that it was going to work, but it did.

There's so much luck involved with this movie. . . . Each one of the choices that were forced upon us improved the film. I've been saying Heath co-directed it — he forced me to do all these things differently, to make a better film than I was making.

The movie opens in the UK Oct. 16. The clips are cool to watch, so to check them out, read more.

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