Zardoz

From Academic Kids

Zardoz is a 1974 science fiction film directed by John Boorman and starring Sean Connery in one of his first post-Bond roles. Filmed on a small budget of $1 million, Zardoz mixture of cerebral, philosophical sci-fi was in complete contrast to Boorman's previous film, the brutal thriller Deliverance.

It is considered a cult film, with its mix of mythology, a bizarre, sprawling plot filled with twists and incongruities, wide-ranging satirical and allegorical stabs. Although its 1970s aesthetic has dated badly, the film is nonetheless visually impressive, filmed in a perpetually soft-focus haze by cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth. Boorman's studio, 20th Century Fox, was dismayed at the uncommercial mess he presented to them and forced the addition of a misleading prologue and trailers that were at odds with the film. An attempt to market the film to the post-2001: A Space Odyssey audience was unsuccessful, although the film remains enough of a cult to have justified a release on DVD with a commentary track by John Boorman.

In 2004 the magazine Total Film described Connery's costume (consisting of a ponytail wig, leather knee boots, and a loincloth which bears a strong resemblance to a giant orange nappy or diaper) as the number 1 "dumbest decision in movie history".

Plot

In a future post-apocalypse Earth (2293) the human population is divided into the immortal 'Eternals' and mortal 'Brutals'. The Brutals live in a wasteland, growing food for the Eternals, who live apart in 'the Vortex', leading a luxurious but pathetic existence in the grounds of a country estate. The connection between the two groups is through Brutal Exterminators, who kill and terrorize other Brutals at the orders of a huge flying stone head called Zardoz, which supplies them with weapons in exchange for the food they collect. Zed (Connery) is a Brutal Exterminator. He hides aboard Zardoz during one trip, "temporarily" killing its Eternal operator-creator Arthur Frayn (Niall Buggy).

Arriving in the Vortex Zed meets two Eternals, Consuella (Charlotte Rampling) and May (Sara Kestleman), and is experimented upon by one of them before being made to work for another Eternal, a troublemaker called Friend (John Alderton). The Eternals are overseen and protected from death by an AI called the Tabernacle (a large crystal mass in appearance) and have problems themselves, falling into catatonia through an odd illness or being deliberately aged into senility for violating a complex set of social rules. Zed discovers an old book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and he realizes the origin of the name Zardoz. It is then revealed that Zed was created by Frayn to destroy the Vortex and restore death to the bored Eternals. Zed finds a flaw in the Tabernacle and destroys it, after which the Brutals bring death to the majority of Eternals. A few Eternals escape to make a new life outside the Vortex. The bitter-sweet ending shows Zed and Consuella producing a child, growing old and dying naturally, whilst the sound of the second movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony swells in the soundtrack.

Quotes

Exterminators: The gun is good.
Zardoz: The penis is evil. The penis shoots seeds, and makes new life, and poisons the earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the gun shoots death, and purifies the earth of the filth of brutals. Go forth and kill!

Friend: We've all been used.
Arthur Frayn: And reused.
Friend: And abused.
Arthur Frayn: And amused!

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