A hugely talented but socially isolated computer operator is tasked by Management to prove the Zero Theorem: that the universe ends as nothing, rendering life meaningless. But meaning is ... See full summary »
A hugely talented but socially isolated computer operator is tasked by Management to prove the Zero Theorem: that the universe ends as nothing, rendering life meaningless. But meaning is what he already craves. Written by
In pre-production, Terry Gilliam suggested that his team should study the work of contemporary German painter Neo Rauch, whose surreal works contain a rich blend of colour. Production Designer David Warren recalled the initial instruction: "I remember getting an email from Terry: Neo Rauch plus Ukelele equals The Zero Theorem (2013). In fact Rauch's work was pinned up on the walls of the art department, and every time Terry used to come in, he asked 'Well, can you get Neo Rauch in?' I said,'I'm trying really hard mate!'" The inspiration from Rauch was indirect according to Gilliam: "His work has so many things crammed in - elements from different centuries, and different colours - that normally you would think were disconnected, and that aspect is here in the film. We mix styles: It's in the near future, but it's also very retro. There are parts that are very garish, and like Neo Rauch, they are shocking, yet quite wonderfully beautiful." See more »
It's better than real. You're in your computer and I'm in mine. We're connected by memory chips and fiber optics. We're safe here.
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In memory of the great Richard D. Zanuck who kept the ball rolling. See more »
First of all, I must state that I've been following Terry Gilliam since the 1990s and that I have seen all of his films in retrospect. Most of them I liked instantly, some required multiple viewings to completely grasp but some were quite disappointing though. In my humble opinion, ever since 'The Fisher King' every new Gilliam film was either better or at least on par with the previous (with the exception of 'The Brothers Grimm' which was a dud). Having said all of that, I feel as if I still just wasn't prepared for 'The Zero Theorem'.
I usually don't make decisions about films to watch based on reviews (especially when it's a film by an author I admire), but I've read some very negative reviews on this one. What most of them had in common was that 'The Zero Theorem' was a shallow copy of 'Brazil' and/or 'Blade Runner'. Honestly, after seeing the film I think such superficial remarks are as fair as calling 'Saving Private Ryan' "a shallow copy of 'The Dirty Dozen'".
Although set in the future, 'The Zero Theorem' is a subtle but harsh critique of modern society much like the two aforementioned films it supposedly "copies", but it covers a completely different main subject. While 'Brazil' was a satire focused on a struggle between a small man and the bureaucracy, 'The Zero Theorem' touches much wider ground and asks some more important questions: Who are we? Why are we here? What is our purpose? What's great about 'The Zero Theorem' is that it refrains from answering and lets the viewers find the answers themselves, and as such it not only succeeds to convey the message that life is too short to waste on waiting for some divine call but also touches on the very meaning of our existence more than any film I have ever seen.
On the technical side, the film is beautifully crafted, astonishingly decorated, marvelously acted and masterfully directed. This is a work of a great author in his prime and had it been made earlier in Gilliam's career it would have no doubt been remembered as his defining masterpiece. Almost thirty years after 'Brazil' it draws inevitable comparisons and is unfortunately labeled as lesser by people who obviously and sadly miss its complete point.
It is hard to judge 'The Zero Theorem' just as a film, because it is so much more than just a moving picture. Seeing it only for entertainment will most certainly leave the viewer dissatisfied. Watching it as an art form but also a philosophic treatise, it becomes some sort of a Nietzschean abyss staring back at you: it is deeper than imaginable but a fully cathartic experience as such.
A full and perfect 10 out of 10.
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