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Imagination

3.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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(Feb 19, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Dr. Reineger, a famous neuro psychologist, has become convinced that a twin girl named Anna has a rare form of Autism called Asperger's Syndrome, rendering her unable to cope with reality. As for her blind sister, Sarah, the doctor cannot say for sure why

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Ed Gildersleeve, Nikki and Jessi Haddad, Courtney Sanford
  • Directors: Eric Leiser
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Vanguard Cinema
  • DVD Release Date: February 26, 2008
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000YOX3GK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,800 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I came across director Eric Leiser’s Imagination by accident. To maintain some interest in my recently-birthed movie review site, I have employed a game of sorts, wherein every week I watch a different movie beginning with a letter of the alphabet, in sequence, until we get to the end of the alphabet and then it starts over, or I quit, or I climb aboard my starship and head for the skies, whatever the case may be. This week’s offering had to begin with the letter I, and since there had been little response from my readers, I had set out to find a movie on my own; my pick was to be Idle Hands, you know, the 1999 comedy directed by Rodman Flender. Unfortunately, both video stores that I visited had no copies of that gem on hand, yet both carried the tantalizingly-titled Imagination, and a glowing pull-quote from The Onion’s A.V. Club was all it took to sell me on the rental.

And I’m glad that I took the chance.

It’s true that the production values of the film are lacking. In particular, the scenes that feature therapist Dr. Reineger or the Mother character are striking for how badly acted they are. There’s a moment where the Mother runs out on a hill to give Reineger a sob story about her daughters’ increasingly bizarre behavior and prophetic visions, and the way that the two yell over one another is laughable. That, coupled with the twee way that Leiser produced the film – utilizing everything from clay figures to stop motion to shadow puppets – made the overall film feel largely like a B-movie version of a Michel Gondry film. Or, as I told my wife, “It’s like if Animal Collective made a horror movie.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Imagination steps into the surreal world of twin sisters Anna and Sarah Woodruff (Nikki and Jessi Haddad) who have confronted their disabilities by turning inward to their own imaginations and shared alternate reality. One girl has been rendered blind; the other has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism characterized by difficulty interacting and socializing with others. The girls' well intentioned but ill-equipped parents (Travis Poelle and Courtney Sanford) seek the aid of neuropsychologist Dr. Reineger (Edmund Gildersleeve) to chart a path to normalcy through the twins' mental shroud.

The girls' behavior becomes increasingly difficult for their parents to comprehend. Their food transcends the dinner plate to become living sculpture, and the girls play games in intricate, frenetic patterns that only minds in lockstep could achieve. Faced with the twins' increasingly apparent and unexplainable abilities to defy accepted science and medical knowledge, Dr. Reineger is consumed with a profound professional crisis. He cannot effectively treat the girls, nor can he decode the bewildering world they have built for themselves within their minds.

The film's real strength lies in its animation. Leiser's whimsical but intricate method recalls Czech surrealism and charts a brave experimental path, though he's not quite ready to stand on the podium with Jan Svankmajer. Nonetheless, Leiser's multifaceted abilities are put to great use in Imagination's engaging animated segments. His stop motion and puppetry work is spellbinding at times. Leiser also has some raw ability as a filmmaker beyond his wheelhouse of animation and sculpture, but Imagination's live action portions are less appealing.
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This is about the most creative movie I have seen in a long time. Wonderful stop motion segments and the surrealist scenes can blow your mind!
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A passage early on shows a child playing with a zoetrope (a pre-camera gadget for simple animations). That foreshadows a wide variety of techniques in this imaginative film, including live action, stop animation, hand-drawn cel animation, and combinations of any two or three. Stop animation evokes Svankmajer's use live actors as animation puppets, as well as use of food. Some macabre, skeletal puppets also bring the Brothers Quay to mind. None of that implies that Leiser's style is at all derivative, however - every scene carries his distinctive imprint, including dramatic imagery around a major, catastrophic incident.

After the technique, Leiser's content seems much harder to capture. I found it easy to dislike the ineffectual psychiatrist and to feel for the desperate mother. The twins, however, remained enigmatic to me. They lived as a symbiotic pair in a world governed by beings with huge powers. Neither the nature of their bond nor the rules of that world ever came clear, however. I don't need to understand every part of a pattern in a movie or the reason for it, but I look to see that there is some pattern somewhere. This time, not enough parts came together for me to perceive that any unified whole existed at all.

When logical structure in a movie eludes me, whether or not I understand that structure, I look to the visuals to pull me along. Although strong, this movie's imagery didn't have quite the power that others do. Fans of surrealist animation will find a fair bit to enjoy here, but I can't say it's a must-have for any personal library.

-- wiredweird
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