‘The Zero Theorem’ Trailer: Christoph Waltz Searches for Meaning in a Mad World

Published 1 year ago by , Updated March 21st, 2014 at 9:15 pm,

In a bizarro satirical vision of the future where ordinary human lives and society is even more technology-infused (and thus, alienating) than the present, an aging and socially-awkward genius named Qohen Leth (played by two-time Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz) is tasked with proving a theorem that – if indeed correct – will demonstrate beyond any doubt that “0 (zero) must equal 100%” and that existence therefore doesn’t have a purpose… or does it? Well, once he solves The Zero Theorem then Qohen will know the correct answer, apparently.

Confused? Welcome to the world of director Terry Gilliam, the mad genius (or madman, take your pick) who gave us those deliciously twisted Monty Python animations, as well as mind-bending cult films like Time Bandits, Brazil and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – with Twelve Monkeys being perhaps his most accessible movie to date (and even that Bruce Willis time-travel romp – loosely inspired by Chris Marker’s 1962 experimental short film La jetée – is still more than a tad bonkers).

While reading details on the Zero Theorem script by Pat Rushin may help shed more light on the film’s sci-fi world and themes for some, they might also leave you feeling as equally confused as you probably do after watching the newly-unveiled trailer. Credit where credit’s due, Gilliam’s latest appears to be full of dazzling colors, trippy scenarios, and elements of biting social commentary flying about; it’s certainly neither boring nor conventional in design, if nothing else.

zero theorem christoph waltz 570x294 The Zero Theorem Trailer: Christoph Waltz Searches for Meaning in a Mad World

Christoph Waltz in ‘The Zero Theorem’

Gilliam’s work over the last decade has felt more than a little autobiographical (if also increasingly esoteric), revolving around protagonists whose only way of dealing with and surviving the madness around them is to use their skills of expression and creativity – be they an imaginative young girl stuck living in a real-world Hellish version of Wonderland (see: Tideland), or a grizzled magic conjurer whose outdated trick and trade is all that he has left to make ends meet (see: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus). The characters, story and themes in Zero Theorem seem in keeping with that motif, with Waltz as the latest Gilliam onscreen stand-in.

As you might expect given the nature of this beast, early reviews from Zero Theorem‘s showing on the film festival circuit in 2013 have been split; some critics have gone ahead and embraced Gilliam’s movie, while others have argued that it’s too messy and (worst of all) a little too late to work as timely satire. Regardless, if you’re still onboard after sitting though Gilliam’s last couple films (not always an easy task – I know from experience), then you might want to try his latest strange concoction.

Rounding out the cast of The Zero Theorem are Matt Damon (The Monuments Men), David Thewlis (Harry Potter), Ben Whishaw (Skyfall), Lucas Hedges (Labor Day), Tilda Swinton (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Mélanie Thierry (Babylon A.D.).


The Zero Theorem doesn’t have an official U.S. release date yet; we’ll strive to let your know when it does.

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  1. Do you mean “Genius”?

    Looks a lot like Brazil, mixed with Mike Judges’ “Idiocracy”. “Twelve Monkeys” is my favourite Gilliam film. I would have loved to see his vision of “Don Quixote”.

    • That I do – thanks for the catch!

  2. This looks good!

  3. Strange. Maybe interesting, but really hard to say.

  4. Can’t wait, Gilliam is one of if not my all time fav directors, never been disappointed by one of his films.

  5. Sounds like more confusing problems from the “new math” they tried unsuccessfully to teach me in school!

  6. Does not look like anything much of the rank and file of viewers will be interested in, I would hazard a guess, and certainly not me. I looked and despiute knowing I would see satire, etc., I found myself saying, “huh?”. Might be some people’s cup of tea, but I am afraid not mine (I did like Gilliam when he was attached to Monty Python, tho). This will possibly appeal to a small cross-section of Gilliam’s hardcore fans, tho.

  7. Could Christopher Waltz pull off a compelling Lex Luthor?

    • Nah, everyone complaining about the Red Skull in the Marvel films are missing an easy casting with Waltz.

      • Right. I think the same.

        I suppose that picture of Waltz prompted me to wonder.

      • So true, but Mr.Smith wasn’t bad, lol totally forget his name, it’s my bedtime.

        • Hugo Weaving.

  8. Take my money please, Mr. Gilliam.

    And get back to work on Don Quixote!

  9. Looks good, it works from what I saw in this trailer and best of all, it throws in science, esoteric thought and philosophical pondering by the look of it.

    I’m sold. It could be this generation’s Pi (the Darren Aronofsky movie from the 90s about the maths genius trying to figure out the meaning of a sequence of numbers).

  10. Interesting. :? Could be great or garbage.

  11. Very beautiful visual. Hardly believing this movie costs less than fifty millions.