Gilliam on how Zero Theorem connects to Brazil, selfies and everything in-between

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Sep 19, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

Terry Gilliam's latest sci-fi epic looks like it could potentially rival some of the other highlights on his resume — but that doesn’t mean The Zero Theorem doesn’t take its inspiration from somewhere.

Gilliam conducted a wide-ranging interview with Wired about the new film, which definitely seems to have its fair share of Brazil-esque inspirations. As you’d expect, the synopsis is almost impossible to describe, but we’ll give it a shot. Basically: Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) is working on a mysterious project to discover the meaning of life. But it's only when he experiences the power of love that Leth starts to understand what he’s really looking for.

Along with Waltz, The Zero Theorem also stars Matt Damon as Management, the person who assigns Leth the project, plus Lucas Hedges as Management’s son, David Thewlis as a colleague, Tilda Swinton as a digital therapist and Mélanie Thierry as a flirtatious woman. Yeah, this definitely sounds like a trademark, weirdly awesome Gilliam film.

Check out some choice excerpts from the interview below:

“I think citizens actually love the fact that somebody is watching and listening to them. Everybody lives for their selfies and their tweets—to actually exist, somebody has to be talking to you or listening in on you. That's where The Zero Theorem started and ended. It became a focus for a lot of the things that were bothering me today, including this constant connection. Qohen just wants to be disconnected, wants to escape from the world that's out there, full of people just filling the Internet with pictures of the food they're eating…

Initially, Mancom, where Qohen works, was much more like the Ministry in Brazil. But I wanted to make a point that this body isn't governmental. That's something quite different now—corporations dominate, and the political side is almost secondary. The funny thing is, the film was supposed to be set in the near future—how near I didn't know. But by the time most of my ‘futuristic ideas’ had been filmed, they were already in the past.”

The full interview is well worth a read for fans of Gilliam, or insanely weird/ambitious science fiction. You know, or both. The Zero Theorem opens wide this weekend. Do you plan on checking it out?

(Via Wired)