The Zero Theorem: Review

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Duration: 107 mins     UK Release Date: 14th March 2014       Written by: Pat Rushin


Terry Gilliam pulls you into a not too distant future-istic world with an overload of colour, noise and digital technology. It is always interesting to see how people imagine the details of the future and Gilliam creates a world that is utterly believable. Tiny smart cars whizz along the streets with no regard for pedestrians, people rush around in fluorescent multi-coloured clothes and employees power their computers themselves by cycling on stationary bikes whilst they work.

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Images from the official poster – click image to go to and see more

And yet at every moment there seems to be something that criticises what the world is and what it may be, usually in a subtle satirical way. There is also, of course, a lot of less subtle humour involved that reminds us of the Monty Python days. But it is not simply a comic film, it explores many much bigger topics: spirituality and the meaning of life; mental illness; troubles in relating to people; power structures. Also, the concept of ‘management’, which is manifested as a single man who has complete control of everything and is at once tangible and intangible, human and projection.

Above that, the main theme of the film is described in the title itself: The Zero Theorem. This concept relates to theories of the universe and the question we have no answer to: will it keep expanding forever, or will it one day collapse back in on itself to a point of infinite density? The Zero Theorem, which the protagonist Cohen Leth has been employed to prove, is the latter theorem. If successfully proved humanity would then see the end of all existence coming, effectively making everything meaningless and creating profitable chaos. Or so ‘management’ claims.

Overall it was primarily a conversation based film, nonetheless with some bizarre action filled scenes, that keeps your attention from beginning to end and long afterwards. The Zero Theorem opens up many more questions than it answers, which forces the viewer to put these questions to their own society and their own existence.

The real question is: what do you believe?

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