The Zero Theorem, Blu-ray (2014)
Actors: Christoph Waltz, David Thewlis, Melanie Thierry, Lucas Hedges, Tilda Swinton, Matt Damon, Peter Stormare
Director: Terry Gilliam
Writer: Patrick Rushin
Studio: Amplify/ Well Go USA [1/20/15]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 1080p HD color
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, 2.0
Extras: Behind the Scenes, The Visual Effects, Theatrical trailer, Previews
Length: 107 minutes
Well! Although I first saw this in the theaters and was unimpressed, I must say it was an entirely different experience with the Blu-ray and the extras. This provides an excellent companion to Gilliam’s masterpiece Brazil, and concerns itself with his familiar themes such as Big Brother, organizational and governmental madness, taking place in an overpopulated, ultra-advertising-technology future in supposed London (although it was shot in Bucharest). Waltz as the amazing computer virtuoso who is working for Mancom, the big boss, constantly refers to himself in the plural. (His lovely female adjunct-stripper – hired by Mancom to distract him – asks him if he has a mouse in his pocket since he always refers to himself as “we.”) He holes up in a strange former church which he got cheaply since it had a fire and is in decrepit shape. He has decorated it (as one reviwer says) “as though Pee Wee Herman were into Steampunk.” His job is to play sort of computer games and file various files he creates with the vast corporation in an effort to prove that zero equals 100%, which is to say that the whole universe means absolutely nothing.
Waltz plays Qohen Leth, a loner computer savant, who slaves at his computers to “crunch entities,” while waiting for a so-called vital phone call that will somehow bring him total salvation. (Of course it’s total nonense.) The other main interior location is a giant set which Gilliam had built after seeing an old Rumanian blast furnace which proved too dangerous to film in. His idea is that instead of getting smaller, computers will get larger, and this big round structure represents the ultimate computer. Gilliam loved the wild mix of architectural styles in Bucharest, known as “the little Paris.”
The film is full of fantastic details in the environment and costumes (which are mostly cheaply made out of old plastic tablecloths and raincoats). Gilliam has a wonderful way of making really black and bleak things great fun. Hedges plays management’s computer savant son, and Thewlis is a terrific company overlord trying to take care of Waltz. Everybody around him seems to be terribly happy except Waltz, who is going thru hell. Everyone seems to move in different worlds, and this film bears many repeat views to gain all its meanings. It’s full of sight gags and amazing characterizations.