In The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Tony swallowed this small flute before he was sentenced to neck hanging.

Capture of film sequence that displays the flute

In a second hanging, Doctor Parnassus changed the flute with a fake one which lead to Tony's death. How does Tony survive neck hangings with this small flute?


When a person is hanged by suspension or short drop, the weight of the body tightens around the trachea and neck structure with the noose, causing death by strangulation.

The idea suggested in the movie would be that Tony swallows the flute and it remains stuck in his throat, then the rope cannot block the trachea completely (the flute serves as a pipe), the airflow would still be open, and he'd be able to breathe and survive the hanging.

Although it works as a creative idea in a movie, it probably wouldn't work in real life. As explained in the link above, it's not only the trachea but the neck structure that suffers: "[...] their jugular vein and carotid arteries are blocked and blood flow to the brain is reduced [...]", what could lead to brain damage and/or death.

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