Traveling showman Dr. Parnassus (Plummer) made a very long ago deal with the devil (Waits) for immortality but barters his teenage daughter Valentina's (Cole) soul in exchange. That is, unless he can deliver five other souls to an alternate world of the imagination that's entered through a looking glass (shades of Lewis Carroll). When Tony (Ledger et al) is saved from suicide by the travelers, Parnassus sees him as being a possible way to win the bet. Since Heath Ledger died during production, director Gilliam had actors Depp, Law, and Farrell play variations of the same character to melancholy effect. It's fool-the-eye, existential smoke and mirrors from Gilliam's obviously overloaded and exhausting imagination.