|Copyright 1973 John Boorman Productions
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 8 June 2010 (updated)
- Zed - Sean Connery! He wears a red loincloth, a ponytail, and FMBs. Seeing Sean Connery dressed like that is jarring (to say the least). When he appeared wearing a bridal gown I was certain that I had to be hallucinating. I wasn't; this is just a weird movie.
- Arthur Frayn - An "Eternal" (more on them in a bit). He imagines himself a fancy-pants magician who can change the world through selective breeding.
- May - Eternal. Grand canoness of the Holy Order of the Ubiquitous Freckle. She has so many freckles that if you played connect the dots with a black marker it would change her racial profile.
- Consuella - Eternal. She considers sex a violent debasement of women and hates the penis on general principle, but falls in love with Zed and bears him a son. I guess Sean Connery is just that damn sexy.
- Friend - Eternal. He a consumate pessimist who has been defeated by a life he cannot escape. I like seeing him mess with people, but I wouldn't want to share an apartment with him.
- Avalow - Eternal. She likes to meditate, and when she meditates she asks everyone to meditate with her. Know the type? No, of course you don't. They became extinct before 1980, though there are rumors that some survived and moved to California.
- The Eternals - Humans who never age, and are reincarnated if they die.
- Apathetics - Eternals who lose their interest in life, the universe, and everything. There might be forty-two of them.
- The Tabernacle - The magical device that keeps all of the Eternals alive, and thus consigns them to unending life, even if they wish otherwise. It is eternal damnation disguised as a blessing.
|Where can you find Sean Connery dressed in a loincloth, a giant flying stone head that spouts NRA rhetoric from one side of its mouth, and denounces unprotected sex from the other, and a commune filled with people who are so bored with life that they have given up on enjoying anything at all? The Seventies baby, the Seventies.
Where to start? I'd say the beginning, but I am not quite certain where or what that is in this film. I guess that I will go with where the film begins, but that is not actually so much a start as an introduction to a story already in progress. Anyway, a giant flying stone head slowly moves over the landscape. When it lands, a horde of crazy men with guns and masks congregate around the mobile idol. The executioners cry out to their God, Zardoz (that's the head, and the title of the movie). Pretty soon Zardoz speaks, and what he says is a rambling speech about guns, the penis, and shooting either of the previously mentioned objects. Having delivered his message, Zardoz vomits forth a great heap of rifles and ammunition. The savages, including Zed, all cheer.
I am no expert on religions, but Zardoz is pretty far out on the theological fringe.
In return for his favor and wisdom, Zardoz demands a tribute from his chosen ones. Huge baskets of grain are loaded into the stone head. One of the grain containers has a prize inside: Zed. He digs himself out and takes a look around inside of God's head as the massive idol lazily motors its way through the foggy English sky. Eventually, a little man in a blue robe comes out and walks around. Zed shoots him, and then watches as the surprised fellow (it's Arthur Frayn, by the way) falls out of the idol's gaping maw. Arthur disappears into the fog with barely a sound.
In other words, the little man who lives inside of God's head just fell out. I hope that eventually makes it into the gospels, just so that some day a theologian can scratch their head over such an obfuscated tidbit. No doubt the confused scholar will determine that "The little man who lives in God's head fell out" has to be a metaphor. Well, what if it isn't a metaphor? What if it's a euphemism?
Turtle-necked bishop? I don't think so.
Zed continues his journey inside of Zardoz until the Supreme Being (it's just a model) arrives at Vortex 4. That is where Arthur is from, and also the home of the rest of the Eternals that are curious where Arthur disappeared to, and where Zed came from. May is particularly interested in the dangerous barbarian, but is not afraid of Zed because she can stun him with a special stare, a power that only the Homo eternals possess. May, Consuella, Friend, and the other futuristic hippies are an artificially created branch of the human genetic line which is called Homo eternal. What are you giggling about? Why is that term so funny? It is no different than any other species from humanity's evolutionary history, such as Homo erectus. Again, you giggle. Why?
I am joking here, but I also guarantee that the mention of Homo erectus and Homo eternal has more than one reader giggling so hard that their eyes are watering. You know who you are. How old are you? Twelve?
Intrigued by the violent barbarian suddenly in their midst, the Eternals study Zed. They analyze his genetics, check his health, test his abilities, and use a special machine to watch some of his memories. Now, you have to remember that Zed is an executioner, a religious fanatic who enslaves and kills other people in the name of Zardoz the almighty. Most of Zed's memories involve rape or killing, or both. What a swell guy we are blessed with as our protagonist. Granted, Zed is a product of the world he grew up in, and the world is violent due to the Eternals' meddling in population control. Maybe Zed really is a good guy at heart. It's just that it is difficult for me to ignore that Zed has spent his entire life committing rape and murder. Twenty years of crimes against humanity, and now he's a different person because he turned over a new leaf?
There are a lot of born-again Christians in prison, too.
As it turns out, Zed is physically, mentally, and genetically superior to the Eternals. He is the product of hundreds of years of natural selection and a breeding program guided by Zardoz (Arthur Frayn). While the Eternals were inventing time-consuming social etiquette just to fill the endless days of their lives, Zed's ancestors were fighting tooth and nail, blood and sweat, for the right to survive and reproduce.
The Eternals' society is tortuously rooted in traditions that are PC to the ninth degree. Violence of any sort, even verbal, is a crime. Heck, even thinking antisocial thoughts during the Eternals' "Second Level" group meditation is grounds for punishment. Unfortunately, the Eternal community created a cruel and unusual punishment for those who break their draconian laws. Nobody goes to prison, but they are made old - permanently. It is hard enough to endure perpetual life when you are thirty. Imagine being consigned to forever as a decrepit old man. Granted, they do not worry about dying while sweeping off the walk, but having to drink prune juice every day for eternity or suffering the discomfort of everlasting constipation is not an appetizing prospect.
Another problem with the Eternals is that the male libido is missing in action, and that could be a reason some of the women are so testy (if anyone needs a good shagging to loosen up, it's Consuella). The reason for the ubiquitous erectile dysfunction appears to be the lack of urgency in the Eternals' life. Nobody dies, everyone acts nice to each other, and I doubt any of the men have ever worn boxing gloves or baseball cleats in their uselessly long lives. Life is a bland mixture, served at room temperature, so that nobody is discomforted. Unfortunately, that means that nobody is especially happy, either.
Hopefully you noticed that Zed is a violent male used to life's more physical aspects, including those impossible for men suffering from ED. It's no wonder that May and some of the other frustrated Eternal women want to study him more closely. And he is Sean Connery, after all.
Zed's presence in the commune causes more than just sexual tension. During a social gathering Friend refuses to wiggle fingers with everyone else, so the other Eternals label him a renegade and turn him into a senior citizen. The rest of the Eternals finish their mental hugfest and then stand around with drapes over their heads (yes, I know, it's the '70s). The first to wake up is May, and the first thing on her mind involves Zed and a bed. Her playtime with the sexiest man alive is cut short by Consuella; during the confrontation Zed proves he can overcome the stunning stare power. That freaks Consuella out. She rounds up the other Eternals, who all grab torches and pitchforks to hunt Zed. Buildings are set on fire, freaked out super hippies run back and forth willy-nilly, but Zed has little problem avoiding the mob.
I am glad to see the Eternals taking an energetic interest in something, but why aren't they carrying firearms? So what if they don't know how to shoot; I know that Zardoz spat out some shotguns earlier.
While the Eternals' society disintegrates, Zed searches for a way to destroy the Tabernacle. He ends up inside of the crystal device. The interior of the Tabernacle is a funhouse! Mirrors are everywhere, and Zed dashes about for a while until he starts shooting at his own reflections. Amazingly, a mirror breaks and the Tabernacle is broken. Okay, maybe not so amazingly. Zed is shooting at mirrors with a .455 Webley revolver. Want 7+ years of bad luck? Shoot at a mirror with a Webley. Heck, if you were in a hall of mirrors, just throwing a heavy revolver would probably earn you a lifetime of bad luck.
The Tabernacle destroyed, the Homo eternals all revert to regular Homo sapiens. Zed's executioner friends invade the Vortex and start shooting the surprised (now inappropriately named) Eternals. Paroled from life everlasting, the Eternals' barely have time to consider their newly granted mortality before a mask-wearing barbarian gives them a crash course in the hereafter. Meanwhile, Zed impregnates May and almost a dozen of her friends before the Connery baby-batter-infused ladies flee the ruin of Vortex 4.
Oh, and the giant hydrogen-filled condoms in the Vortex courtyard explode in massive balls of fire. I don't know why a society of everlasting hippies with ED needed huge hydrogen-filled condoms, but I guess it's officially a moot point.
NOTE: I am sick and tired of people saying that I "did not get" this film. I get the film. People are not meant to live forever. I "get it," okay? Your insistence that Boorman's story has more nuances than a bottle of 20-year cognac, and that I am a stupid ground-thumping gorilla needs a reality check. That reality check is the DVD's commentary track. Want to know something? Boorman does not "get it" either. Most of the commentary consists of stuff like, "The head itself is a model." or, "She was really looking forward to being raped by Sean Connery." He also devotes an enormous amount of effort to talking about how little money they had for the production. If you like the movie, that is well and good. If you see more to the story than the director himself expressed, that is also well and good. Just don't expect me to see those same invented meanings.
What I am trying to say is that I am glad that you are friends with the magic elves that only you can see. Don't be angry that I can't see them. It's wonderful that the invisible magic elves are your special friends. Have fun playing with them.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Self-sufficient agriculture requires careful planning, adequate farmland, and rifles.
- Ammo can be a fashion statement.
- Memories are stored in third person perspective.
- The enemy of my enemy is my baker.
- Fish net looks sexy on a woman.
- Erections sound like guitars.
- Human DNA is made up of jellyfish, rotifers, and euglena (stop looking at me like that and find a dictionary, and a microscope, and a prescription sedative to help you deal with the little creatures that are swimming all over your body right now).
- Guns improve biodiversity (fans of passenger pigeons and bison lovers rejoice).
- Flowers are an impassable barrier.
- Viagra is made by mixing Sean Connery's sweat with PAAS Easter Egg Dye.
- 1 min - OH YEAH? Well, while you were sleeping we drew an onion on your chin with a permanent marker. Who is laughing now, floating disembodied head man?
- 6 mins - This would be an awesome scene if it was accompanied by something from Judas Priest.
- 12 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST SOMETHING!
- 27 mins - Sean Connery just licked another man's hand!
- 42 mins - This is...I could watch this for hours.
- 46 mins - God forbid a squirrel decide to make a nest there.
- 50 mins - Between the perms and the half-tops, I cannot tell the difference between men and women. I haven't been this confused since Thailand.
- 65 mins - RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOT!
- 68 mins - Do you see that bald kid? He has his own cartoon on Nickelodeon. I think that he has cancer or the power to control wind and air. One of those two things.
- 70 mins - Wait for it. Wait for it. There, the window finally broke. Slow bullet day.
- 76 mins - RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOTS!
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Arthur Frayn: "I am Arthur Frayn, and I am Zardoz. I have lived three hundred years, and I long to die. But death is no longer possible. I am immortal."
||Zardoz: "You have been raised up from brutality to kill the brutals who multiply, and are legion. To this end Zardoz, your god, gave you the gift of the gun.The gun is good." |
Exterminators: "The gun is good!"
Zardoz: "The penis is evil, the penis shoots seeds."
Exterminators: **Crickets chirping**
||Consuella: "May is a great scientist, but she also has destructive tendencies." |
May: "We have adequate means of controlling it. Surely we are not so vulnerable."
Consuella: "Look at it. It knows its life is at stake. Otherwise it would rape and kill, as it always has. You can see the disrupting effect."
Friend: "Let's keep it. Anything to relieve the boredom."
||Zed: "So, if you're bad often enough, you'll die." |
Friend: "They make you old, but they don't let you die."
Zed: "So what's to stop you from killing yourself?"
Friend: "I do now and again, but the Eternal Tabernacle simply rebuilds me."
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|Friend introduces Zed to the Apathetics. The eccentric Eternal just walks around screwing with them, while Zed tries to rape one girl. When she fails to respond, it annoys ape boy, and he shot puts her!
| ||Leave a comment||EXTRAS||Buy the movie|| |
Reply #57. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by wavy
Well having met with the sound eng. on the movie in Ashland Or. Mr. sound said this was a party down set.Probably what went down (literaly) during the making of ZARDOZ was the "real movie".Oh, the director John Boorman you must watch the Emerald Forest starring his son to get a better Perspective of Mr. Boorman, writer, director, producer.As far as the meaning of the movie this was Irland and they hated the eternal Enlish. No, Connery is Scotish. Kill me now Zardoz !
Reply #58. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Steve
There were some good ideas here, but the execution seemed lacking. Sean Connery was probably thinking to himself, "I gave up James Bond for *this*????" And Beethoven was no doubt rolling in his grave over the abuse of his 7th Symphony (used no doubt because it was public domain; i.e., no royalties or licensing had to be paid)
Reply #59. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by M.K. Young
I had to watch snippets of Zardoz over three sittings because it was so hard to take. I sort of got it and then after reading some postings here I'm feeling dumb for not understanding more of it.
I did wonder how long Zed was going to wear his red speedo and was surprised to see it throughout most of the movie. And how many shots does a Webley hold? I thought five but evidently 50.
I have to pick out minor points because I just didn't get the big picture. I sure would have wanted to punch those self-righteous eternals though. They were annoying.
Overall, I can't wait to make some friends watch this flick. Until I can get them to commit, I'll watch Starcrash--not as trippy and just plain bad/good.
Reply #60. Posted on October 01, 2004, 03:16:19 PM by Felicity
Almost completely terrible--a few moments of unintentional hilarity fail to save it. Not worth viewing even once. What the hell happened to science fiction in the 1970s?
Reply #61. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM by Felicity
The thing is, I get that SF movies are better when theyíre about ideas, and I agree that mainstream SF movies have devolved into nothing more than action movies with a few SF elements, but if youíre going to make an SF movie thatís about ideas and has a message, you need to communicate those ideas and that message. And youíre not going to do that if the movie doesnít make any damn sense to 90% of the people viewing it.
The other thing is that the movieís idea/message is depressing. That can be fun in its own way, but in that case itís best kept short, so you can absorb the neatness of the idea without actually having to spend a lot of time dwelling in the depression.
Then, too, I have a particular problem with movies set in a post-apocalyptic future, especially when the one oasis of civilization in that future is (a) portrayed as bad and wrong for being an attempt to stave off the post-apocalyptic wasteland, (b) all low-tech and barbaric-looking, with people in period costumes and slaves in rough-hewn uniforms, and (c) totally fascist and evil, what with its classism, callousness towards suffering, misandry (ďThe penis is evilĒ? Iím sick of hearing that from mainstream culture), and deliberate attempts to make the outside world a worse place.
I get that all of this was intentional and led to the movieís point--but unfortunately it was at the cost of the movie being watchable. Thereís not much point in making an intelligent movie with a message if itís so boring, depressing, and confusing that itís unpleasant to watch. And yes, you *can* be boring *and* confusing at the same time.
Then again, as I say, I have a particular problem with post-apocalyptic wasteland movies. I also hate westerns, so it resonated well for me when the late Jay Scott said that post-apocalyptic wasteland movies are basically science-fiction westerns.
Reply #62. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Brad
I have found many of the comments posted here to be both profound and silly. And that fits with the movie. I beleive that this was the first movie that Sean did after playing Bond, James Bond. 007
One thing that no one had mentioned was that the Vortexes were some kind of space ship. They gathered up the best of their world to save. The Imortality was developed so that they could live to go to the stars. But that sort of turned into a dead end and they came back home to a ruined planet. Remeber the starving masses trying to get into the vortex in a flash back.
My favorite concept in the movie was the punisment sentences. If you were sentenced to 5 years, they aged you 5 years. A few years here and there adds up. But no matter how old and senial you get, they will not let you die.... In the extream case of the inventer of the tabernical who is bedridden. All of the original generation has been aged for various infractions and you are dealing with thier children, born to the vortex life. They are bored. Many of them have committed suicide several times. Remember that you can't die.
They make themselves do some manual work for something to do. There is food trading between the different vortexes as Zed found out when he first entered. They are even making the Exterminaters grow wheat for them now instead of just killing people. Wich sets the stage for Zed to enter the vortex and kill his god.
I am a great fan of the Wizard of OZ. My current cat owner is named Zardoz. :)
Reply #63. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Chick Copp
Brilliantly over the top pseudo-intellectual Brit movie, not since he was painted silvery green with bits of trees stuck on his head to play some kind of Green man Godhead thingie in "Sword of the Valiant" has Sean Connery been so valiantly mis-treated by the makeup department. Sean is always held in such high regard by filmophiles, but I have found him to errr...to be playing himself, Scotch Git extraordinaire in red loin cloth with braided ponytail wig, or painted green with twigs attached (he produced "Sword of the Valiant" too) etc....
I saw this on the big screen back in '74, it certainly needs the super sizing of the silver screen, seeing him roughly squeeze a poor Brit actress's boob and her not move a muscle when she must have been a) wishing to knee him in the nuts, or b) shout loud and long for him to desist forthwith!!, is hillarious. John Boorman is definitly of the Ken Russell school of film making, ie pile on the ever more obscure images and pile drive home your psycho sexual messages as hard as you can. I mean just count the number of phallic symbols in Zardoz, I got up to 133 before I got over excited at Charlotte Rampling's nipples poking through her string vest...hubba....hubba!!!
This is best viewed with the knowledge that it is a leftover Dr Who script or something, it is a classic of the you-just-let-it-unfold-before-you variety of Brit movie, our inate feelings of superiority over the rest of the World results in movies like this. Of course you do not understand it Johnny Foreigner! This is intellectual stuff. Just enjoy the mud wrestling and boob squeezing, oucheeeeee....
Reply #64. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by WitchKing
Mind-bendingly cool. I tend more towards the horror and fantasy genres than the sci-fi vein, but this opus definitely delivered. Wildly surreal and clever --love the "Wizard of Oz" reference-- it certainly left me feeling like I'd seen something either insane or profound (like perhaps "El Topo" or "The Holy Mountain"). I don't think I can name another movie like this where a big-name Hollywood male star is so scantily-clad and objectified throughout the entire film's running time. Connery looks great and the entire cast just salivates over him. I'd read somewhere that his red loincloth had to replaced on an almost daily basis because someone from the set kept making off with it(!).
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