Terry Gilliam's next project, the twisted Zero Theorem, is officially on the scrapheap. Which means it could be years and years until we see more original science fiction coming from the warped Gilliam mind.
In an interview with fansite Dreams, Gilliam explained how his next big science fiction project, about a cubicle zombie, with Billy Bob Thorton attached, is now dead in the water. The delay in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus along with the prep work needed for his next project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote seems to be the culprit:
I thought I could do it quite quickly and cheaply, and that would be a nice one, rather than getting caught in more expensive, more complicated or hard-to-finance things. But the year just got swallowed up by Parnassus and publicity, and preparation for Don Quixote. I just didn't think it would be viable and I pulled the plug earlier this year.
This makes us sad, because more people should be giving Gilliam time and money to make tripped out mind blowing scifi, plus we hate to see original work get pushed aside for endless remakes.
Here is the long synopsis of Zero Theorem from Voltage Pictures:
Qohen Leth, a socially maladjusted "cubicle zombie" with a genius for computer work, is waiting for a phone call. His entire life has been consumed with the wait for this call. He doesn't know the nature and origin of the call, but he knows it will provide him with the purpose that he has long lived without.
Qohen is given a special project by his corporate managers. His task is to solve a mysterious theorem that has stumped, and mentally broken, the long list of computer geniuses that were previously assigned the job.
Living in an Orwellian corporate world where "mancams" serve as the eyes of a shadowy figure known as Management, Qohen works on a solution to the strange theorem while living in isolation in his home-the shattered interior of a fire-damaged chapel.
His isolation and work are interrupted by a gorgeous, sexy woman who has recently befriended him named Bainsley. They communicate and make love via a tight, translucent, red virtual reality suit. An unlikely torrid romance develops, in which Bainsley has gotten Qohen to open up and come out of his shell like never before.
Qohen is occasionally visited by Bob, the rebellious whiz-kid teenage son of Management. These visits seem to be orchestrated by Management to keep control of Qohen's progress on the project. But Qohen and Bob become friends, and start to dig deeper into the meaning of the Zero Theorem. Bob lets it slip that Bainsley has been hired by Management to help control him, and, as a result, when Bainsley earnestly tells Qohen she's going to run away and pleads with him to come with her, he coldly rejects her.
As work on the project reaches a critical point, it becomes clear that the key to both the theorem's final solution and the source of a much-awaited phone call actually reside within Qohen himself. He holds the answer to the theorem and his own long-awaited epiphany. Bob modifies the virtual reality suit and creates a program that will carry Qohen on an inward voyage, a close encounter with the hidden dimensions and truth of his own soul, wherein lie the answers both he and Management are seeking. The suit and supporting computer technology will perform a sort of inventory of Qohen's soul, either proving or disproving the Zero Theorem.
But the program doesn't work and Qohen must find the answer within himself, as no machine can truly search the human soul. Qohen is now able to solve the Zero Theorem and find the meaning of his life. He burns the church and takes off with Bob on a search for Bainsley, the one person who has given his life true meaning.
Is it the freshest idea in the world? No, but with Gilliam's eye who knows what it could have looked like.