Zardoz: Happy Birthday Sean Connery

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

4 thoughts on “Zardoz: Happy Birthday Sean Connery

  1. TS:Ivanlandia Zardoz!BTW, try and listen to Boorman's commentary on the DVD –he's very honest about the flick's flaws, but he never apologizes or claims that he was going for camp. Boorman's one of my faves, and I'll accept some misfires b/c they always have LOTS of ideas, and when he strikes gold: wow!

  2. I don't know why I haven't seen this yet, it sounds great! It's on netflix instant so I'll definitely get on it soon. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. I have danced around this one for years. Something about Connery dressed like someone I might get a lap dance from has always discouraged me.Word Veri: "lycented" – the smell of something that has been involved in licentiousness?

  4. Yes, one of my absolute favorites. I saw it 3 times before I finally saw it uncut – it was utterly confusing but I knew I wanted to understand.You're wrong on one count, at least for me – I finally saw it (and taped it!) uncut on WSBK-Boston's Movie Loft. They'd show uncut movies, with nudity and violence intact, starting at 10 pm. We got it as part of our cable package. I probably rented it eventually too…and I'll bet I still have that ratty VHS copy somewhere.

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