Terry Gilliam doing existential sci-fi w/ Christoph Waltz


Terry Gilliam is doing a new feature film, and it’s The Zero Theorem starring Christoph Waltz. And there was much rejoicing. (So, looks like that adaptation of Paul Auster’s Mr. Vertigo is on the backburner, and The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is dead again.) Pre-production for The Zero Theorem is already underway in Romania, with a start date scheduled for October 22nd. Cross them fingers and grab them rabbit feet, Terry — that jerk Cervantes may still be after you.

Deadline said the following about the plot of The Zero Theorem:

Waltz will play Qohen Leth, an eccentric and reclusive computer genius plagued with existential angst who works on a mysterious project aimed at discovering the purpose of existence — or the lack thereof — once and for all.

Additional details note that the film will take place in a dystopian future with the Waltz character living in an abandoned chapel, and there will be virtual sex and virtual reality of the soul. It sounds intellectually kooky and daring, like Darren Aronfosky’s Pi mixed with the spiritual alchemy of Alejandro Jodorowsky or Grant Morrison. /Film notes Billy Bob Thornton was originally attached to star back in 2009 when Gilliam first showed interest in the project.

After the cut is a much more involved synopsis of The Zero Theorem from Deadline. It provides a broad look at the plot’s trajectory, so avoid it if you want to go into this one blind.

[Deadline via /Film]

The Zero Theorum as explained by the people at Deadline:

Scripted by Pat Rushin, The Zero Theorem is set in a world that seems right in Gilliam’s wheelhouse. Living in an Orwellian corporate world where “mancams” serve as the eyes of a shadowy figure known only as Management, Leth (Waltz) works on a solution to the strange theorem while living as a virtual cloistered monk in his home—the shattered interior of a fire-damaged chapel. His isolation and work are interrupted now and then by surprise visits from Bainsley, a flamboyantly lusty love interest who tempts him with “tantric biotelemetric interfacing” (virtual sex) and Bob. Latter is the rebellious whiz-kid teenage son of Management who, with a combination of insult-comedy and an evolving true friendship, spurs on Qohen’s efforts at solving the theorem. But these visits turn out to be intentional diversions orchestrated by Management to keep control of Qohen’s progress. Bob creates a virtual reality “inner-space” suit that will carry Qohen on an inward voyage, a close encounter with the hidden dimensions and truth of his own soul, wherein lie the answers both he and Management are seeking. The suit and supporting computer technology will perform an inventory of Qohen’s soul, either proving or disproving the Zero Theorem.

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.