Zardoz, how I love thee. My friend Peter introduced me to this wacky science fiction allegory written and directed by John Boorman. It spins the tale of a distant future where the intelligentsia are idle, decadent immortals called Eternals who toy with the little people they call Brutals, by making a warrior class who worship a floating stone head called Zardoz. He spits out rifles and pistols, and tells them “The Gun is good! The penis is evil!” Yes, the same Mr. Boorman celebrated for excellent films such as Deliverance and Excalibur.
Sean plays Zed, one of the Exterminators, which is why he’s in hip boots with a Webley revolver and his meat & veg in royal red regalia. We see things through Zed’s perspective as he learns the secrets of Zardoz, that he is a pawn of the Eternals, specifically one Arthur Frayn, who wishes to be free of the shackles of immortality. At heart it is a socially updated pastiche of H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” with its Morlocks and Eloi evolved into uselessness. But it’s a lot of psychedelic, bizarre ’70s fun as Sean shoots and humps his way through a post-apocalyptic bounty of babes, including Charlotte Rampling. When we first saw it, it was cut for TV, and made absolutely no sense. So we went to the local video shop, Curry Home Video- which had everything from Pink Flamingos to A Clockwork Orange, all the bizarre a growing boy needs- and got the uncut VHS.
Suddenly, the story made more sense, as half the expository scenes have a topless woman in them. So you have to watch it a few times and pay attention. We studied it like scholars. It remains one of my favorite indulgent, psychedelic excesses of the ’70s. You can tell that Boorman, he who made the ghostly, near-surrealist noir Point Blank, wanted to create something like Jodorowsky’s El Topo (full review) but he just couldn’t hack it; it comes off more as an exploitation picture made by a poet. So we have 2069: A Sex Odyssey of sorts. If you like science fiction or Sean Connery, this relic is unique and interesting, and unlike Highlander 2: The Quickening, it can be enjoyable to watch. So it’s perfect for sitting back with on Sean’s birthday.
© 2010 Tommy Salami