Film: Imaginaerum

"You used to play so beautifully, Tom. You had a song for every little thing in your life..."

Imaginaerum is a Finnish musical fantasy film, directed by Stobe Harju and based on the eponymous album of the Symphonic Metal band Nightwish.

It tells a story of Thomas "Tom" Whitman, a composer who in his late years has regressed to a mind of a child, living more in the world of fantasy rather than real life. After he collapses and falls in coma, he starts to delve deeper into the depths of his imagination while his estranged daughter Gem follows her father's final days beside the hospital bed, struggling with her feelings over the matter. Meanwhile Thomas, tempted by a eerie snowman, Mr. White, begins a journey inside his mind, trying to recollect his memories of the past and, hopefully, find a way to reconcile with Gem before it's too late.

Tuomas Holopainen came up with original idea of Imaginaerum soon after the release of Dark Passion Play in 2007. Originally Tuomas had intended to make an album with music videos accompanying each song, but after the workload and budget needed for such were deemed big enough for an actual movie, Stobe suggested converting the originally drafted concepts into a coherent full-length feature film. The result is a heart-wrenching musical fantasy of epic (and weird) proportions, family drama, cool visual effects and a score based on the music by Nightwish.

And no, Thomas is not (allegedly) Author Avatar of Tuomas. The band does, however, make a couple of cameo appearances in the film.


This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: It is implied that Tom's father was one. When he notices himself picking up the same habits, he drives his daughter away to save her from that upbringing, causing her to hate him due to the neglect.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Thomas defeats Mr. White and restores his mind and soul, and he wakes up from his coma just long enough to tell Gem he loves her one last time, then he dies. Gem, finally understanding how much her father cared for her, gains the strength to move on with her own life and avoid repeating his mistakes.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The snowflake. The movie begins with an offscreen voice reading a story about "the last snowflake of winter" which has the ability to make the magic of winter last forever, just before a single snowflake falls and brings Mr. White to life. The same snowflake later appears and falls onto the pages containing Tom's memories of his life, allowing him to recover his mind.
    • The train track. At the beginning of his dream sequence, Tom sees a train track and wants to check it out, but Mr. White tells him to ignore it. He later encounters it again with a maintenance worker who looks eerily like his doctor complaining about being tired of fixing the track. At the end of the movie, the train takes him to a light that allows him to wake up from his coma.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The toy soldier that Tom steps on early in the film appears to him in his fantasy, and with the rest of the toy soldiers, carry him to the safe that holds his memories.
  • Circus of Fear: Mr. White takes Thomas to one of these, where Monster Clowns and an image of Thomas' own daughter destroy more of his memories.
  • Driven to Suicide: Tom's father and Ann both attempted it. The former succeeded.
  • Dying as Yourself: Tom eventually regains his memories before dying.
  • Fighting Down Memory Lane: The premise of the movie for Tom's side of the story. Though he wasn't so much 'fighting' as he was 'chasing'.
  • Foreshadowing: Mr. White wears a pilot hat and goggles. He's a memory of Tom's father, who was a pilot.
    • Also, when Tom steps on the toy soldier near the start of the film, a few notes from 'Wonderfields' are briefly heard. This track would later be played in full when the soldiers come to him in his fantasy.
  • Homage: The "Snowman flying with a boy" scene, anyone?
  • Large Ham: The entire band during the nightmare at the circus plays up the hamminess, particular Marco and Anette.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: A lot of the songs from the score album are this, but the one that suffers most is "Undertow" (the score version of "Ghost River" from the original album), which only plays the opening for about 30 seconds while Tom explores the wasteland, before talking to Ann.
  • Meaningful Echo: "G to E Minor."
  • Meaningful Name
    • The snowman is called Mr. White, which resembles Tom's surname, Whitman. That makes a whole lot of sense when it is revealed that he is a memory of Tom's father, Mr. Whitman.
    • Gem has one as well, and she even realizes it herself in the end of the movie. "And there forever remains a change from G to Em." G Em.
    • The hospital Thomas is staying in is Poet County General Hospital. The writer, Tuomas Holopainen, generally refers to himself as a poet rather than a musician.
  • Memento MacGuffin/Orphan's Plot Trinket: The Arabesque, Tom's old toys.
  • Mental World: A significant portion of the movie takes place within one, during Thomas' coma.
  • Monster Clown: The same ones from the "Storytime" video still harassing Tom in the Circus of Fear. Circus!Nightwish also qualifies.
  • Mind Screw: Sometimes it becomes difficult even for the audience to know what's a dream sequence and what's real.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: When Tom, having wandered across the Mental World in a child form, ages to his old self while trying to reach the memory of Gem.
  • Scenery Porn: Thomas' dream world gets into this quite often with its sweeping, surreal landscapes. It sometimes drifts into Scenery Gorn, however, during the times when the dream turns nightmarish.
  • Serkis Folk: Mr. White, played by Ilkka Villi.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Gem, who's grown bitter believing that her father never loved her or her mother.
  • World of Symbolism: When half the movie happens in one's subconscious...