To Choose Life

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To Choose Life

parnassusLast week I excitedly ventured into the movie theatre to see The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the last movie of Heath Ledger’s career that was in production at the time of his death. I’ve always judged Ledger to be a brilliant actor, as well as the actors that they chose to be his “double” while in the Imaginarium. The movie is a brilliant feast of colors and imagination directed by Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame and is full of metaphoric life-lessons.

imaginarium of doctor parnassusMy intention for attending this movie was to submerge myself in the brilliance that I knew was in there from the first moment I saw the trailer. A dear friend saw it opening weekend and came back with rave reviews so I knew I was golden. Truthfully, it is a movie that requires one to set aside all logic and give over to the possibility of the imagination and soak in the interesting, intriguing images. And, for me, it was a big hit.

imaginarium of doctor parnassusThe premise of the movie is that Doctor Parnassus makes a deal with the devil to become immortal. The movie follows the good doctor’s life as the payment for the original bet comes due. Forgetting that it is the devil with whom he gambles, he continues to make bets in the hopes that he will eventually win freedom from the debt.

When a person travels through the “magic mirror” and goes within the imaginarium, the traveler is faced with choices. Each choice they make moves them closer to their liberation or their damnation, depending on the choices at hand. Each choice is deceptively simple but has outrageous consequences. And, as devil-lore is so apt to point out, the devil’s options are always most appealing. The movie delves into the eternal battle of good vs. evil for the soul of man.

imaginarium of doctor parnassusAt one point, amongst the brilliant colors and delightfully odd animated scenes within the imaginarium, Doctor Parnassus is trudging across a desert in a blinding wind storm. He’s tired. He’s thirsty. And he is completely defeated. He falls upon the ground, hands outstretched, fingers frantically clawing at the ground in a pathetic attempt to drag him forward.

“No more choices!” He cries out as the sand whips his face. “No more choices!”

Everything stops. He can no longer go right or left. There is no going forward. The only movement was the howling wind and the sand.

My stomach clenched at this scene and I felt the hair on my arms stand on end. So many times over the last year, I have cried out the same, “No more choices!” I’ve found myself whipped and beaten and so willing to give up because I was tired of being accountable for the results of my choices. And when I got to that point, everything came to a standstill in my life. There was no movement.

imaginarium of doctor parnassusAs humans in this dual universe, we move forward or backwards, left or right, up or down. Or, we do nothing. If we are to move, a choice must be made. One cannot feasibly go forward and backwards in the exact same instant. If you go up, you cannot go down in the same moment. Every movement we make is a choice – we are either creating through imagination or reacting from past experience. And while it may become tiring to continually choose, it is life.

What will you do with your choice in this moment?

© Angie K. Millgate 2/21/10


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