I have about four different drafts of the script for “The Zero Theorem” sitting on my hard-drive right now, and I haven’t opened any of them. At this point, a new Terry Gilliam film is such a rare and precious thing that I am reluctant to spoil the experience for myself.
Now it appears a sales reel has made its way online for the film, and it shows quite a bit of what Gilliam is up to without really spoiling anything. My favorite film of his is still “Brazil,” and this looks like we’re back in that territory, dealing with multiple layers of reality. Christoph Waltz is the star of the film, and it looks like he has thrown himself into the role whole-heartedly. It’s a shocking look for him, with no eyebrows and no hair, and I’m excited to see how he fits into the world that Gilliam has created around him.
For my money, one of the greatest tragedies of the CG age is that the guys who would do the most good with it are the same guys who have the hardest times putting together budgets. The idea of setting Terry Gilliam’s imagination loose with no constraints at all is thrilling, but when you say his name to the money guys, they react like vampires watching a sunrise. He is considered a legendarily bad risk at this point, and it makes me crazy. I know that filmmaking is not a charity, and no one gets into the business to lose money, but when the industry gets to a point where every single decision they make is about the money and nothing else, the real losers of that scenario are us, the audience.
We need mad dreamers. We need lunatics who don’t care about market research and pre-existing intellectual property. We need amazing artistic follies. We need all of that, because that’s what feeds artists further down the line. I can’t imagine being a kid today and looking at the film industry and saying, “Yes, that’s what I want to do with my life.” It’s an entire cinema landscape of nothing but processed American cheese food, as opposed to a market dotted with a thousand different flavors and varieties and styles.
Long story short, Terry Gilliam is a treasure, and every single time he manages to finish a movie, that’s one small victory for the side of right. I don’t love every single film he’s made, but I love that he’s still making them, and I hope this turns out to be another beautiful, brilliant, totally mad creation from one of the purest dreamers we’ve got.
Right now, there’s no American distributor for the film, and no release date. Someone please fix that immediately. Thanks.