The question which I am asking could spoil the ending of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

I strongly, very strongly believe that this movie was the Suicide Note of Heath Ledger. So, the question is, is the movie his suicide note or am I misunderstanding what the movie's theme is about?

My understanding of the ending of the movie is as following:

To escape the "dream" which he was in, he had to kill himself to be the last person they needed to save Parnassus's daughter, and in real life, it was a note for him to "escape" fame and reality as we know it

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    @all Any better ideas for the tag fitting into the 25-char limit? Maybe imaginarium-dr-parnassus?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Apr 21, 2014 at 9:20
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    Officially Heath Ledger's death was ruled an accident, so speculating about a 'suicide note' means speculating about his death being a suicide, which I feel is off-topic here.
    – Oliver_C
    Apr 21, 2014 at 12:22
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    Also, Ledger died long before the movie was actually finished (The film was around 1/3 completed at the time), I would speculate (As this entire question is completely speculative) that if he had intended it to be a suicide note, he would have finished the film first.
    – JohnP
    Apr 21, 2014 at 14:49
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    False premise (Heath Ledger's death was not ruled to be suicide) Apr 21, 2014 at 23:06
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    I like this question, but it's not a good fit for this site. It's ultimately based on a very opinionated idea, as opposed to anything factual, and thus can only result in heavily subjective answers. This is a question for a forum - not a Q and A site. Apr 23, 2014 at 8:23

1 Answer 1


While this is an interesting question, I'll have to make the killjoy here and say, No, this is quite unlikely (even if I don't have a hard proof either and interpretation is still a free good).

First of all, as Oliver_C points out in his comment, it is not entirely clear if Heath Ledger commited suicide in the first place and the official version is that he didn't.

But even if he did then this suicide note connection can only be unintentional, since he was not so much responsible for the story and making of the movie at all, he just starred in it. And it would be extremely unlikely for him to have some weird arrangement with Terry Gilliam to make him some kind of "suicide note movie" for a long planned suicide. Likewise his death was initially a pretty severe problem for the yet unfinished movie (before they came up with the genuine idea of replacing him with other famous actors in the dream world):

Gilliam was presiding over concept art when he was informed by a phone call that Ledger had died. His initial thought about the production was: "The film's over, it's as simple as that."

So it seems pretty unlikely that Heath Ledger planned his suicide (if even suicide at all) such a long time in advance and managed Terry Gilliam to make him a personal suicide note movie.

And furthermore, he was quite different from his role in the end:

To escape the "dream" which he was in, he had to kill himself to be the last person they needed to save Parnassus's daughter

While this is true, Tony (Ledger's character) certainly did not want to sacrifice himself but, as we learn during the movie, always had quite selfish intentions. He needed to be tricked into death by Parnassus (who offered him a fake pipe that didn't help him survive at the gallows). So even if by actions, Tony did not commit suicide by intentions.

So all in all I think your theory doesn't hold water and I guess you might be able to interpret something like this into any of Heath Ledger's later performances if you really want.