Terry Gilliam’s new film The Zero Theorem is a futuristic dive into a near-future crammed with advertising — a world not too far off from our own. The film, starring Christoph Waltz, Matt Damon, and Tilda Swinton, debuts at the Venice Film Festival Sept. 2 and echoes the tone of earlier films by the absurdist director, like 12 Monkeys and Brazil.
The story follows Waltz’s character, a computer programmer who is assigned to work on a special formula that his boss, known only as “Management” (Damon), believes holds the meaning to our existence. On the street, advertising and technology bombard the senses in every available nook and cranny.
“I think it paints a stark picture of where we are right now,” Gilliam tells EW. “The future has come and met us, we actually don’t live in the present anymore, we live in the future because it’s happening so quickly. It’s really about the world we’re living in and being connected. When, as an individual, can we be alone in a connected world like this? Those are the things that intrigue me.”
Below, Gilliam details the making of a scene at the beginning of the film that introduces us to Waltz’s character, Qohen Leth (pronounced Cohen), and the world around him. The film was shot on location in Bucharest, Romania, and Gilliam discusses how he used elements of the city to dictate the futuristic landscape. He also delves into the unique costumes created by designer Carlo Puggioli for the film, featured in the exclusive photos above.