Creative connections that transform




Clerkenwell Close in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Date posted: 01.10.2009

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is the latest fantastical feature from writer/director Terry Gilliam (The Brothers Grimm, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas).

The film follows the custodian of a travelling theatre troupe (Christopher Plummer as Dr Parnassus) who, having made a deal with the devil, is obliged to lure five souls through a magical mirror on his wagon into a bizarre alternate world.

An all star cast, including Tom Waits, Lily Cole and the late Heath Ledger, head up the film. Production was temporarily suspended after Ledger's sudden death, during which time his role was recast. Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell were all brought on board to portray variations on Ledger's character, Tony - adding an extra dimension to the dreamlike quality of the film.

Clerkenwell Close, just off Clerkenwell Green, was the setting for one of the final London-shot sequences that Ledger was involved in.

Location Manager Alex Gladstone recalls how they came to use this location: "Terry and his cameraman Nicola Pecorini took us there one evening, when we had scouted far and wide for a street to place the Imaginarium. They revealed that they had walked down there together just months before, while they were still developing the script. At the time they agreed it would be a great location for the scene, but thought might be too tricky logistically."

"The scene was achieved with lots of help from the London Borough of Islington, specifically The Film Office and Barry Lucas from the highways department - not to mention the local residents. The shoot took place at night. Sound meter recordings had to be taken for the horse's hooves and the blunderbuss that feature in the scene, but in the end we didn't receive a single complaint."

Originally situated just outside the old city walls, Clerkenwell is an interesting area of London. In the 18th Century it was a village of spas, tea gardens and theatres before becoming home to brewers, distillers, printers, cabinet and clockmakers during the industrial era of the19th Century. Rich in radical history - Clerkenwell seemed the perfect setting for such an extraordinary story.

To film in Islington, please contact The Film Office on 020 8980 8771 or email

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