Terry Gilliam Goes Back To The Dystopian Future

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In the new film "The Zero Theorem," director Terry Gilliam gives us a dystopian yet fantastically colored and absurd future that will seem very familiar to fans of his films "Brazil" and "Twelve Monkeys."

That's no accident, Gilliam tells Here & Now's Robin Young.

When he first read screenwriter Pat Rushin's script, it was clear that Rushin had seen every film he'd made.

"And strangely enough, I thought in a way, it would be kind of a compendium of many of the things I had done, and I could take it to another level," Gilliam said.

The story centers around Qohen, a mathematical genius who lives in a burnt out monastery, who is tasked with solving the Zero Theorem while awaiting a mysterious call which he believes will explain the meaning of his life.

Gilliam said he set out to make a futuristic film, but found that the absurdity he imagined in the future already existed.

As an example, Gilliam said there is a critique of advertising in the film, where ads follow people around. There are references to "Shoppers of the World Unite" and "Occupy Mall Street."

"I love the way Madison Avenue always is good at taking political movements and things that have some kind of important political statement and turning them into ways to sell better toilet paper and dog food," Gilliam said."When we were preparing it and even when we were shooting it, I kept adding thing thinking this was about the near future. But by the time we finished, it was a period piece. Things are moving so rapidly now, you can't keep up with the change."


  • Terry Gilliam, director of the new film, "The Zero Theorem." He tweets @TerryGilliam.

This segment aired on September 18, 2014.


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