John Boorman’s contribution to cinematic weirdness, Zardoz, is a movie that isn’t so much watched as experienced. The 1974 science fiction classic is a tribute to hubris, tight budgets and some of the more melancholy aspects of the genre. It’s a movie you should see, if only to join in on the conversation about it - one that has been going on for over forty years.
Set in the distant future, Zardoz opens with a man in a silly blue hat and a drawn-on beard explaining to us that all is not what it seems. The opening credits feature a giant, stone floating head that then proceeds to be worshipped as a god by a horde of scantily clad savages. The head tells its followers that violence is good and sex is bad. The camera then focuses on a gun-wielding Sean Connery, who is clad in what appears to be a bright read mankini. The movie gets much stranger after that…
Ostensibly, Zardoz is an examination of the consequences of lying to the masses, as well as a speculative dive into what happens to a society when the elite simply cannot die and refuse to share their wealth. In practice it’s mostly an excuse to see Connery and his co-star, Charlotte Rampling, run about in very skimpy clothing. The only honest answer to the question “What is Zardoz about?” is to say that it’s about 105 minutes long. Anything else is up for speculation.
The Blu-ray version has been lovingly restored and the print is crisp and clear. This version keeps Geoffrey Unsworth's original cinematography, and yet adds clarity and definition; we still get the hazy, dreamlike quality that makes the movie work, but we can also see every nook and cranny of the floating giant head of Zardoz.
Arrow are the established masters of cult movie releases and they have packed the Blu-ray with a pile of new features. We get interviews with John Boorman and Sara Kestelman. There’s also conversations with the crew, and the whole thing works very well as decades have passed since the movie was made, so we get well polished anecdotes about one of cinema’s strangest experiences. The audio commentary is definitely worth your time as well, as the director is on top form as he talks about the movie.
If this isn’t in your movie collection, it should be. If nothing else, it’s one of the few features that start with Z, but really you should own it merely to broaden your horizons as far as it goes. If you’re already a fan, then this new Blu-ray is a real treat and worth your time.
Special Features: Audio commentary with John Boorman / New interviews with cast and crew / Radio spots / Trailer / Collector’s booklet
ZARDOZ / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JOHN BOORMAN / STARRING: SEAN CONNERY, CHARLOTTE RAMPLING, SARA KESTELMAN, NIALL BUGGY / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 14TH