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Terry Gilliam Previews New Film 'The Zero Theorem,' Debuting in Venice

Indiewire By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Indiewire August 30, 2013 at 7:00AM

Director Terry Gilliam recently talked with The Playlist about his upcoming film "The Zero Theorem," premiering at Venice. Highlights from the interview below.
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"Zero Theorem"
"Zero Theorem"

Terry GIlliam's "The Zero Theorem" will World Premiere at the Venice International FIlm Festival. TOH! got a glimpse of footage at 2013's Comic-Con, where a new trailer debuted along with the first four scenes--ten minutes. The story, written by Florida academic Pat Rushin (inspired by "Brazil"), revolves around an eccentric bald computer genius (Christoph Waltz) who wanders around naked and wrestles with existential angst. When he falls in love, his project to solve the meaning of life takes on new meaning. Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, Melanie Thierry, Peter Stormare and David Thewlis also star, and Matt Damon is in there somewhere, Gilliam promised.

Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem'
Voltage Pictures Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem'

Gilliam didn't show in San Diego, but sent an entertaining video clip about being held prisoner until he finished the movie. The video was more entertaining than the film scenes. "'Zero Theorem' is a small intimate impassioned film," he said. "I know you're tired of superheroes. I want quality again. This is a film about a man waiting for one simple thing, a call that will give his life meaning, what we're all dreaming of, all of us. We want the answers, this one gives them."

Gilliam's films are always visually sumptuous--each set is jammed with crazy details and fun to watch. "The Zero Theorem" is shot by Nicola Pecorini ("The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"). It's edited by Mick Audsley ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "High Fidelity") and composed by George Fenton ("Dangerous Liaisons," "Gandhi").

Gilliam recently talked with The Playlist. Highlights from the interview below.

Gilliam on "The Zero Theorem":

I think I made "Brazil" for 2013. "Brazil" had things that were obsessing me about the world at that time, and same thing here. This is more about connectivity, the connected universe, and whether you can separate yourself from it. It’s a very hard thing to describe as far as storytelling but there is a man who really wants to be on his own even though his work is about a very big question; whether the universe is in control or chaos. He just wants to get away from people and everything, just be alone, and yet he’s not allowed to be. Some of that is good and some of it is bad. He discovers his humanity in the course. Where he ends up is a surprise.

On the possible reception of the film:

It’s impossible to predict. Fewer people have seen "Zero Theorem" during the making of it and the editing of it than any film I’ve done. The basis of any predictions is not solid. Harry Knowles, he said it was the best thing I’ve done since "Brazil" and watched it three times in a row. That kind of excitement and enthusiasm about a film is what I love and it doesn’t mean it’ll find a monstrously huge audience, but there's enough of an audience for it. I just keep clinging to the fact that "The Wizard of Oz" and "Singin’ in the Rain" weren’t big hits when they came out [Laughs].

On working with a low budget:

I hadn’t worked for that little money for over 30 years...it was just “get it on with,” try to survive. Once you go, you’re in the race and you just got to keep going. It was constant impossibilities overcome. But that’s why it’s important to have a good team of people, it’s kind of a test of our abilities; how many tricks we have up our sleeves.

On his dislike for 3-D, and why he wouldn't use it in "Zero Theorem":

It’s expensive. I don’t like 3D that much, I don’t like the glasses. I think it was an interesting way of getting people to buy new television sets. I’m convinced it was never about the films, it was about a new way to buy television sets. [U.K. network] Sky, for a period, was putting money in 3D and now they’ve just given up.  

This article is related to: Interviews, Interviews , Terry Gilliam, Terry Gilliam, Venice Film Festival, Festivals

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