Terry Gilliam has a reverence for failure. In his movie The Fisher King, Jeff Bridges talks (ruefully) of Nietzsche’s “bungled and botched…expendable masses” who “get close to greatness, but never get there.” In a Gilliam movie, the hero is always either a fool or a madman, someone who sees much but blows his chances, aims high but is often speared by the world. As screen alter-egos go, these characters are candidly self-lacerating. Alexander Pope’s aphorism “To err is human…” is like a dare to Gilliam. He needs to conceive of movies that can’t work in order to prove that they can. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a case in point.