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This movie is truly awful, but at the same time it's got to be one of
the BEST SCI-FI MOVIES I'VE EVER SEEN!
There are so many concepts to digest: Civilization's end, immortality, genetic manipulation, artificial intelligence, time control, psychic power, space travel, and on and on and on. If you're the least bit interested in science-fiction, there's more for you in this one movie than you'll find in a year's worth of Star Trek conventions!
Then why do I say it's awful? Well, within this movie's running time are some of the most cheesy moments ever captured on celluloid!
From the opening shots of the hairy-backed, leather-thonged, gun-toting Sean Connery (who at least manages to wear more than most of the rest of the cast), to the catch-cry of the Giant Hovering Stone Head ("The gun is good! The penis is bad!"), as it spews out a torrent of weapons and ammo from its mouth. What about the Eternal's predilection for studying erectile tissue function, by flashing up images of naked mud-wrestling? Or that crazy "wobbling-hands" thing that they do when in some sort of telepathic communion? Completely laughable!
Despite these moments of "cheesy-ness", Zardoz tells an utterly engaging and compelling story. The moment of revelation of the meaning of "Zardoz" took me completely by surprise, even though all the clues had been under my nose right from the beginning! (The Magritte painting "La chateau des Pyrenees", hanging in Frank's house, reminiscent of the hovering stone head, for example.)
If you like hard-core science fiction, and can put up with a few minor flaws, then I think you'll really enjoy Zardoz! It's weird, it's brilliant, it's unique! (Just make sure you watch it while you're wide awake, though, or you may drift off from time to time!)
9 out of 10!
Without question, the most brilliant bad movie EVER made: Red
man-panties, gun-vomiting hot air balloon stone heads, flying books on
fishing line, neat-o dance numbers (or at least ballroom catharsis),
magic marker facial hair, elitist-hippie government, inexplicable
backward-masking (check out Friend in the kitchen), the ugliest bride
in the history of cinema, cool jewelry, the Internet before the
Internet was the Internet (or even computerized), Big Brother, HAL, and
David Niven merged into one, lots of flowy sheer curtains, EXCELLENT
decorating ideas, nifty forms of mass transit, a profound sense of
anatomy, and, perhaps most chillingly, an apocalyptic warning that, if
we do not change our ways, we face a future COMPLETELY DEVOID OF
Genius. Simply genius.
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!
I've seen some weird movies in my time! 'The Holy Mountain', 'Human
Highway', 'Men behind The Sun', 'Nude For Satan', 'Pink Flamingos', 'Dune',
but NOTHING as weird as 'Zardoz'! Nothing!
'Zardoz' has the feel of a Alan Smithee movie. It's like you're watching a movie made by committee or recut behind the director's back. But you see that it is written, produced and directed by John Boorman, the man who made the still dazzling revenge thriller 'Point Blank', and the first rate hillbilly suspense classic 'Deliverance', and you realize that this movie is EXACTLY what Boorman intended it to be. And your mind boggles!
'Zardoz' is neither a mindless sci fi action movie not a serious SF-as-ideas film ala Tarkovsky or Kubrick. It's... well, I don't know WHAT it is! A trippy Dystopian fantasy that cribs a few ideas from other sources (Huxley's Savage, Wells' Eloi and Morlocks, Moorcock's Jherek Carnelian), adds plenty of philosophical gobbledygook, some semi-naked babes, an embarrassed looking pony-tailed Sean Connery, and by the look of it, mixes in a bucket full of psychotropics, and hey presto! you end up with a movie like no other before or since!
'Zardoz' MUST be seen! By you. Right now. Unforgettable.
Saw this when it first came out.. simply loved Sean Connery in heels,
the the Egypt-Brit village, the fem-men, butchy yet gorgeous women...a
flying, gun spewing head....weird beyond belief....and yet universally
panned by all as a lousy film. How wrong they were!
This film was the father of Memento, and sister of Vanilla Sky, cousin to Lathe of Heaven 
No matter who laughed at me I continued to love this film, and when I finally bought a video play it was the first film I ever purchased.
as a note, the end music on Zardoz is also the same track as in Waterland with Eric Stoltz.
There seem to be a lot of people who didn't like this film. I loved it. It is a film for people who aren't perturbed by a lack of surface glitz in science fiction, and can take on the underlying meanings about immortality or the fear of death that other films rarely raise. Some of it doesn't make sense, but only if you are not paying attention. In my view, it gets straight to the point without any polish, which some people are uncomfortable about in any artform. It is not made for Star Trek fans. It is a bleak and powerful story about a cabal of ineffectual immortals who play God to an inferior but more vigourous race, and who long for death yet cannot die. They stealthily invite one of these inferiors (Connery) into their midst to solve their problems. The final scenes are extremely striking, and are set to the 2nd movement of Beethoven's 7th symphony. **You just don't hear this symphony enough in the movies***. I recommend this film to anyone who likes science fiction with a small sf.
I 1st saw this movie in 1975, at the Students Union all night "sci-fi"
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
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.
"Zardoz" is either a brilliant visionary masterpiece, or the biggest blunder Sean Connery ever appeared in. I still haven't decided which (must watch it again first!). It has beautiful visuals and a surprisingly multi-layered script (the revelation of the title's meaning is a stunning moment), yet it also has parts so embarrassing (the "scientific examination of the male erection" scene comes to mind) that make you wonder how the participants managed to keep a straight face through them (the filming of this movie must have been great fun!). Ultimately, it's a film that defies ratings, but I'll try my best......*** out of 4.
A classic science fiction tale woven into a complex - and for some,
complicated tapestry, it is not surprising for some to become irritated
or confused at the movie.
And, given the context of the time of it's making - i.e., minimal special effects and low budget - it is not surprising that some would criticize Zardoz's 'chessiness'. After all, the notion of a floating head issuing commands to armed barbarians - ridiculous idea, isn't it? But consider thinking of troops battling overseas those whom are labeled as 'brutals' as they're issued commands by distant leaders safe miles away or speaking to them behind protective measures.
As to the content and story, that is timeless and perhaps that's where we should rest and consider the nature of power versus the masses; the necessity for the mystery of death; the power of love and lust as well as the folly of intelligence and of Mankind. And as one of the main characters later on states 'we've been Amused!'
And like life, if it looks and gets a little cheesy - you're going to tell all that sometimes Life isn't,...?
This movie came out when I graduated from high school and I first viewed it with the awe and admiration of a young man seeking intriguing concepts of what the future might be like. Zardoz did not disappoint me. The question of what would happen to mankind if all our physical needs were met and we were thereby allowed to expand intellectually is fascinating. We are constantly striving to make life easier, better and to live longer. Do we really need a struggle to exist or is it merely a leftover animalistic aspect of our evolution? Personally I like living in a climate controlled surrounding versus a cave where I have to kill something with my bare hands in order to eat. For what it's worth, I saw it again as a middle aged adult and I am still impressed with some of the concepts of the movie. My 13 year old daughter was not so much impressed. I'd still give it a good review and wouldn't mind owning it for my personal collection. I guess it takes a sci-fi geek to not be so bored with it and, of course, a bare breast thrown in gets my attention just as it did back in 1974.
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