Zardoz (1974) – John Boorman

John Boorman wrote, prodiced and directed this sci-fi cult classic that has Sean Connery running around in red underwear and thigh high boots, waving a pistol and his moustache around.

With a commentary on class, knowledge, and sex, the film wasn’t a big hit at the time, and sort of settled into the cultutal subconcious, raising it’s big stone head every now and again. In the year 2293, things have gone badly for humanity, there is a division of civilisation, there are the Brutals who indulge in their violent tendencies, who seem to enjoy the baser aspects of life.

Then there are the Eternals. They live behind protective domes on grand English estates (actually Ireland), and while they live forever, there lives are empty of meaning, and follow strict guidelines for their continued existence. They also work to control the Brutals, or at least a breed of them known as Exterminators, including Connery’s Zed, giving them orders to influence the Brutals to grow food for them.

A flying stone head of a god named Zardoz, watches over the Eternals and Exterminators, but Zed wants to learn more about it, where it comes from, and hides in it, arriving in the safe enclave whre some of the Eternals reside, including Consuella (Charlotte Rampling) who wants him killed immediately.

There is a lot going on here, and it occasionally pretentious, but the short form is that the division between humanity has caused us to deny ho we are, and only through a combination of the two can we move forward. The combination will occur, of course, in Zed – who will bring longed for death to the Eternals, and growing intelligence, and apparently some psychic abilities to his offspring.

This was a weird one. I’m not gonna say I liked it. I didn’t hate it to be sure, and there are some things I really enjoyed in the film, even the simple effect of making the head appear to be travelling over the countryside. Connery is pretty awesome, despite or in spite of his costume, but some of it just appears to be trying too hard.

Zardoz is a strange little film that came along before what would be a real resurgence in science fiction in the late 70s, and it’s been referenced, and occasionally mocked ever since. And let’s be honest, only Connery could have made his outfit work.

Am I glad I finally saw this film, and can check it off the list, absolutely. Do I think it’s a good film, I’m not going to go that far, but it does have Sean Connery in it.

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