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Zardoz (1974)

R  |   |  Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi  |  6 February 1974 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 13,971 users  
Reviews: 191 user | 106 critic

In the distant future, a savage trained only to kill finds a way into the community of bored immortals that alone preserves humanity's achievements.



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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Sara Kestelman ...
Sally Anne Newton ...
Niall Buggy ...
Arthur Frayn / Zardoz
George Saden
Jessica Swift ...
Bairbre Dowling ...
Christopher Casson ...
Old Scientist
Reginald Jarman ...
Death (voice)


In the distant future Earth is divided into two camps, the barely civilized group and the overly civilized one with mental powers. A plague is attacking the second group, after which its members cease to have any interest in life and become nearly catatonic. When Zed, one of the barbarians, crosses over, the tenuous balance in their world is threatened. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

immortal | future | stone | library | head | See All (179) »


Beyond 1984, Beyond 2001, Beyond Love, Beyond Death See more »


Drama | Fantasy | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| | | | | |

Release Date:

6 February 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tas tanri Zardoz  »

Box Office


$1,570,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie's opening sequence is an introduction which was added onto the film by John Boorman at the request of 20th Century Fox studio executives so as to assist audiences to understand the film. See more »


Early in the film, when the weapons are spewed out of the floating head's mouth, several crew-members' arms and a face, can be seen throwing them. See more »


[first lines]
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. I present now my story, full of mystery and intrigue - rich in irony, and most satirical. It is set deep in a possible future, so none of these events have yet occurred, but they *may.* Be warned, lest you end as I. In this tale, I am a fake god by occupation - and a magician, by inclination. Merlin is *my* hero! I am the puppet master. I ...
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Referenced in Enlisted: Randy Get Your Gun (2014) See more »


Symphony No. 7 in A, op. 92, 2nd movement
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven (as Beethoven)
Played by the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest (as Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra)
Conducted by Eugen Jochum
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

After 20yrs - still a thought provoking Sci-fantasy
5 April 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

I 1st saw this movie in 1975, at the Students Union all night "sci-fi" event and as it was so off the horizon I loved it. The word plays, picture plays and complex storyline at 3.00 am in the morning were extremely entertaining. The basic themes it pretends of elites vs worker slaves, the boredom of eternal life, the decadence of forced idleness, the pureness of the macho noble savage are all interwoven in a Midsummer Nights fantasy futuristic world. I have to explain it is "British" so the special effects were limited . However, this left the actors with parts to act. Quite simply Zardoz was great, especially the name and how it unfolds. This was despite the fact even then we knew who would eventually win.. and the Union cinema was not Dolby.

I saw it again in the 90's and I was rather depressed, somehow my memory of great film was overwritten. It seemed so pretentious. John Alderton seemed fresh out of `please sir', Sean Connery at bit too macho etc etc. The whole thing so terribly amateur. The cast of typecast British TV / Movie stars waffling through some clever student sci-fi 1984-cum-Brave New World thing, brought to screen with a bad script.. Mind you I thought similar things about `Oh Lucky man the 2nd time around. It was rather like seeing an old flame many years later somehow the chemistry was gone and perhaps love is blind.

I saw it again recently and well I think I have it back. (Perhaps with all these `cloning' and `genetic-engineering' stories being now topical). I seemed to have re-captured the initial feelings. I have thought about these two extremes: To enjoy this movie one needs to regain the feeling of being entertained by actors in a Play. Zardoz more like a fantasy play than a Sci-Fi movie. The imagery is excellent, the themes of immortals and mortals still a relevant possibility for the future. There are gaps that we need to bridge over with our own imaginations and yes we do have to get over the feeling that `Q' will pop up as John Cleese.. But bridging that gap was nearly always the case in a play. Connery really does act, despite his costume.

The part with the crystal continues to excite my imagination. I still love the part in the old public library and his macho strutting don't seem so out of place in a fantasy. The sexual chemistry with the immortal maidens doesn't seem so sexist anymore. His character seems well fitted to the time and place and to me at least it is easy to believe his curiosity led him into the idol.

I think with these type of films , where you extend the script in your head, they are so different from the sci-fi / fantasy genre of today - you either love them or leave them. There is very little middle ground. So for a period piece that has not lost its charm. - Zardoz has place on my shelf of fantasy greats.

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