2293. Zardoz, an unseen "God" who speaks through an idol - a large stone statue of a head - leads a barbaric race called the Brutals, who live a harsh existence in the Outlands. Zardoz tells the Brutals that once they die, they will be transported to the Vortex, where they will live happily as immortals. He has armed a small group - the Exterminators - with guns, as Zardoz's philosophy is that killing is good, and procreation is the root of all that is bad. In reality, Zardoz is Arthur Frayn, from a competing more advanced race called the Eternals who live in paradise in the Vortex. The Eternals truly are immortal as they do not age and their bodies undergo reconstruction if they "die". As such, they truly do not believe in procreation as their society has reached perfect equilibrium. Past human acts such as sex and sleep are obsolete in their advanced state. All major decisions are achieved through pure democracy. The Eternals, however, are not immune to non life threatening disease ... Written by
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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This movie just about defines what a Great Bad Movie is supposed to be.
It starts off with Sean Connery dressed only in red diapers and bandoleers sneaking into a giant levitating stone head, passes through a fruity utopian post-nuclear society, and then heads into post-modern literary references.
The film looks like it was cooked up at an LSD fuelled party in the 70's that I wish I had been at. I wonder if Boorman came up with Excalibur at the same party. Visually there is a similar thread in both films. One is just a whole lot more coherent than the other. At first viewing Zardoz makes no sense at all, but is so wonderfully weird, so out there that you stare at it in disbelief. How did they get James Bond to run around Northern England in his undies? Why is the bread green? What's with the magic marker mustache? These are the types of questions that come to mind and keep you wading through the mess on the screen. The questions keep your mind occupied while your eyes feast on state of the art 70's futuristic concepts. It's as brilliantly fascinating as a 10 car freeway pile-up and you can watch it with considerably less guilt.
Everything is so beautifully, perfectly confusing in this film that it was with a heavy heart that I had to admit after the 4th viewing that it DOES MAKE SENSE. I will not spoil the fun for anyone else but the whole thing really does come together. I can only say that you should enjoy the cacophony while it lasts because once you get the film's storyline it's not half as fun. Though there are still some great lines of dialogue left: "I'm voting for him, Monster" being my favourite.
In any case viewing the film from a 21st century perspective reminds me that back in the 70's some very original, idea based SF movies could be made with a fittingly large budget. Some of these films have become classics which is more than I can say for the big-budget, no-brainer crap that mostly comes out of Hollywood nowadays.
I wholeheartedly recommend Zardoz for those who can admit to cinephilic guilty pleasures!
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