Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Zardoz (1974) is a bizarre, senseless, tripped out quasi-philosophical science fiction film from director John Boorman that is one of the stranger films I’ve seen in awhile. Boorman, inspired by the turbulent late 1960s, takes a lot of ideas that don’t seem to go together, throws them up in the air and then swirls them around whether they make sense or not. What is left is one wild movie called Zardoz.
How to briefly describe the plot of this? Sean Connery plays a man named Zed who is an “exterminator” in a future earth in the year 2239. Zed and fellow exterminators worship the god of Zardoz. Zardoz is this huge, floating stone head that shows up every now and then to boom orders to the exterminators and spew guns out of its gaping, rock mouth. Most of the orders revolve around killing/raping people as a form of population control.
Zardoz is controlled by a madcap magician and lives in a utopian community known as the “vortex”. In this vortex, people never age, never die and have perfected various mind controls and communication with powerful crystals. The vortex favors sexless, androgyny that means in ’74 lots of topless women while riding horseback or doing the gardening.
I mentioned this was influenced by the 1960s and this is true not only of the look, attitude, subjects but the look of the film as well. Boorman stacks the film of tons of out there, psychedelic moments of dozens of images in mirrors, long winded infuriating speeches that mean nothing, subjects such as science, cloning, religion, sex, violence, aging etc. and all kinds of warped ideas that date the film to a particular time in American culture.
Connery spends the entire film basically running around in a red hot pants/leather boots (see photo at top of post) to his knees and ponytail get up that shows off his hairy chest and legs. A few times his hot pants ride up a little too much on his hairy arse! He also gets to grunt out and act with some of the hokiest faux philosophy, semi-sexual dialogue you are likely to hear. It’s definitely not his best performance as he seems awash with confusion and you can almost read his thoughts in some of these scenes as he ponders, “What the hell is going on here?”
Zardoz is a mess and gonzo of a film on practically every level and I can see why it’s gained sort of a cult following. It’s not great but it’s in the vein of so bad, it’s kind of good and guilty pleasure mode. Zardoz is just so all over the map and pure early ‘70s that I have to give it credit for that.
Posted by Joshua Blevins Peck at 7:25 PM