Who killed Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger : Return from the realm of the dead

His first appearance is eerie. The young man is dangling from a rope over the Thames. Life seems to have already left his body, which is in a white entertainer suit. There is lightning and thunder, London and the rest of the world could go under that night. But by chance a theater troupe is rumbling across the bridge in a horse-drawn vehicle. The actors cut off the dying man, they rescue him with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and stow him in a box like a puppet. From now on he will go to the fairs with the traveling theater.

Shocking is this scene from Terry Gilliam's new film “The Cabinet of Dr. Parnassus ”because the young man who is returning from death to life is played by Heath Ledger. The Australian actor died of a cocktail of painkillers, sleeping pills and psychotropic drugs during a break in filming in January 2008. Director Gilliam has reported in interviews that Ledger seemed restless on the set, could no longer sleep and always had new medication prescribed. The star, who received an Oscar posthumously for his diabolical Joker in the Batman film "The Dark Knight", was only 28 years old.

Life and fame, it seems, have overwhelmed Heath Ledger. The scene with the rope could be seen as a metaphor for the mercilessness of the entertainment industry. The show must go on, if necessary also over corpses. In reality, however, it was only a macabre coincidence that Ledger died while working on a film that, for long stretches, looks like a candy-colored drug trip and in which the boundaries between earth, heaven and hell become porous.

After Ledger's death, Gilliam decided to “The cabinet of Dr. Parnassus ”without turning it to the end. Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped in for the remaining sequences with his character - she goes by the common name Tony. Tony initially lost his memory, and it remains unclear for a long time whether he wanted to kill himself or should be murdered. Like many heroes with the cinema surrealist Gilliam, this light-footed airman has the psychological depth of a piece of cardboard. Everything about him is surface, so a mustache, gelled hair and the white suit are enough to play him. The splitting of the main character into four different theatrical manifestations turns “Parnassus” into a sometimes enjoyable picture puzzle. Thanks to the virtuoso montage, it is sometimes difficult to tell whether Depp or Law is dancing through the dream reality of the Tingeltangel-Kabinett.

So is “The cabinet of Dr. Parnassus ”turned out to be a highly skilled, but not a great film. Terry Gilliam, who began his career as an animator in the anarcho-comedy troupe Monty Python, has always enjoyed exploiting myths and fairy tales. He put the lying baron “Münchhausen” on his cannonball again and used himself for “Brothers Grimm”, with Heath Ledger as Jakob Grimm, in the horror stories of German romanticism. You don't need to expect conclusive plots from Gilliam, but he always provides exquisite picture tableaus.

This time he crosses the "Faust" material with "Alice in Wonderland", so to speak. Dr. Parnassus, played by 80-year-old cinema warrior Christopher Plummer, won immortality in a game with the devil (Tom Waits). He is over a thousand years old, so the present of the 21st century makes him melancholy. Unfortunately, he has made another bet with the horse-footed. If he does not succeed in luring five people into his cabinet by the upcoming 16th birthday of his daughter (Lily Cole), her soul belongs to the devil.

Parnassus makes the old hippie dream come true, to be able to disappear into one's own world of imagination. Visitors enter their imaginations through a mirror in its ramshackle showroom. Everything here is flooded with sunlight, but abysses lurk everywhere. Some travelers do not return. It is a realm of eternal magic forests, summer meadows and mountain solitude, in which “Dr. Parnassus ”loses. Heath Ledger deserved a better final film.

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