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I remember watching Zardoz, but having watched this trailer I am now completely baffled as to what it was about.
Jason Weisberger is Boing Boing's publisher. He often does what he ought, instead of what he should. On instagram and twitter he is @jlw
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SO. FREAKING. WEIRD.
Are you sure you saw Zardoz? This is a pretty spot on representation of the movie.
If you remember the plot of Zardoz, you weren’t really there.
There was a plot?
If you were really, really, really high, you could supply your own plot. It was 1974, and the balcony of the State Theatre on Main Street was engulfed in a nearly opaque cloud of cannabis smoke (which actually did not negatively impact the visual quality of the film).
Max and Paddy, discussing Connery’s film roles in relation to whether he wore a wig:
“What were that mad one where he got his cock out?”
Zardoz cosplay at Dragon Con last weekend:
Sean Connery is spinning in his grave
and he’s not even dead yet
He’s spinning with happiness, though.
Like most Sean Connery films, it’s a thinly veiled excuse for Mr. Connery to get his kit off. All other priorities rescinded. Crew expendable.
”Kit”, or “kilt”, or both?
I’ve seen Zardoz several times, and I’m still baffled as to what it’s about. I guess it’s working.
Yep, I saw it in the ’70s, and am even more baffled by it now than I was back then!
I’m pretty sure it’s about how, if you meet a colony of semi-immortal super hippies, it’s OK to kill them because they’re secretly praying for death anyway.
I’m pretty sure there was a plot to it once, but then they put the script in a blender and shot it at a wall with a cannon, and have an army of assistants put it back together with cleartape. 5 minutes later they threw that away and made it up as they went.
“Once this playa was dead and lifeless, and we Burned the Man in dust. Now, the dust has new forms and green life, and we live forever!”
Making them Eloi… and Connery a Morlock?
The main gist is the classic sci fi trope of technological abundancy leading to cultural “stagnation” and thus a trickster (Merlin) god setting in motion a wave of creative destruction. Salted with Eloi/Morloch references and the obvious Wizard of Oz.
Note that the floating head was modeled on the Gilgamesh masks from Sumeria. Meant, I think, to evoke Babylon and the throwing down of the tower.
The real message is that shaven-chested guys soaked in Axe body spray will be slaughtered and eaten by archetypally hirsute banana-smugglers, when comes the revolution.
Side note – Connery’s character is named Zed. Zardoz is the headship/Oz-persona flown/inhabited by Arthur Frayn, the movie’s Merlin/Prometheus.
I have to take issue with you. The hairy ones wear Axe.
I remember thinking it was pretty clever. Engineering a very intelligent human who could infiltrate their sanctum to end their insufferable immortality. By the time the climax of the movie arrived I had had it so much with that annoying 70′s movie making style that I was glad when he killed them. Bit disappointed that he just went all hippie at the end … but there you go, even directors or perhaps especially directors are a product of their time.
The trailer seems like a holographic fractal of Zardoz itself. If you haven’t seen Zardoz, and only watched the trailer, you have a pretty good feeling for how weirdly wonderfully bad Zardoz is. I love Zardoz. It’s one of the few movies I’d have on in lieu of music while I cleaned house for 2 hrs. The thing makes about as much sense as Eraserhead – maybe less – but that’s not the point.
BTW: someone sent me a link you guys put up at BB about all the Troma films now on YT, which…very cool!
Remember, without Zardoz we never would’ve gotten Vartox!
Seriously though, who wasn’t in love with Lana Lang?
My first introduction to the word Zardoz was the loving 8 bit tribute to the game of the film that was never made. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnP0aPwccGU
Best it stand for what it could have been, lest it actually exist, and like all ideals, simply succumb to the stagnation of the Vortex.
The 70s was a… I want to say “good”, but…. “interesting” era in cinema. Plenty of amazing films that are still great, even today, but quite a number of things that are simply utterly bizarre as well, even today.
Zardoz, Wizards, The Rocky Horrow Picture Show, Tommy, The Man Who Fell To Earth, A Clockwork Orange, THX 1138, Attack of The Killer Tomatoes… not to mention all the stuff that was intentionally wacky for purposes of comedy, like the Mel Brooks or Monty Python films. I’ve seen and loved almost all of those kinds of films, but you have to admit, man are they weird.
”Attack of The Killer Tomatoes… not to mention all the stuff that was intentionally wacky for purposes of comedy”
I find it weird that AotKT doesn’t fall into the “wacky for purposes of comedy” category. The first film was actually “straight” parody, if you’ve seen a lot of the “improbable menaces” line of horror films from throughout 60s: Kingdom of the Spider, Attack of the Killer Shrews, Night of Lepus (rabbits), Monolith Monsters (rocks…immobile rocks)… anything that later appeared on MST3K, really.
Zardoz is actually part of larger trend in “the future is barbarism” in sci fi, and it sits at not quite the end of it. Well after films like Planet of the Apes, and actually came out a year after Marvel tried to jump on the bandwagon with War of the Worlds/Killraven comics (which is a pretty good indication that the fad is almost played out).
Monolith Monsters is one of the best SF films of the 1950s.
Unironically, I would have to agree. And I have the lobby cards to prove it.
Yesterday I saw a Chewbacca Pez dispenser – And at first glance, it looked remarkably like the Big Floating Head.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
wiZARD of OZ only with guns, sex and a floating head. Oh, and Little plot.
go with the default Fine Art response to any questions regarding subject -
Q: That’s nice…what is it?
A: A girl in a field picking flowers.
Sean Connery has said, in almost these words, “I’m a working actor. If they pay me, I’ll act. I appreciate my fans, but please do not assume that my appearance in a film means the film is any good.”
Zardoz is not intended to make a lot of sense, just to poke at a few interesting questions — among them, I think, a deliberate bit of social satire about how over-seriously folks were taking the New Age stuff and how self-centered its adherents could be — while being an amusing fun-house ride. And of course it’s a parody of the utopian-dystopian genre.
If you think of it as a less-obviously-slapstick (and less coherent) parallel of Woody Allen’s _Sleeper_, I think you’ll be close to the mark.
It’s very much a period piece, and even then was only marginally successful… but I consider it fairly well-made for what it was. The fact that it’s watchable at all, given the implausibility of the basic concept, has to be counted as a success.
“The fact that it’s watchable at all…”
Your premise is flawed.
“I’m a working actor. If they pay me, I’ll act. I appreciate my fans, but please do not assume that my appearance in a film means the film is any good.”
See how he craftily nests the conceit here. In reality, The Conn doesn’t act, he makes appearances in films.
What baffles me about Zardoz, is that it`s badly made at every level. Costumes are bad. Sound is bad. Acting is bad. Special effects are bad. etc.. ad nauseam.
I dunno. I really believed that giant head was flying.
As far as the special effects are concerned, you accidentally wrote “bad” where you must have meant “beautiful.”
Or your tastes have been damaged by excessive CGI exposure…
Well, this all makes sense when you consider that Sean Connery started out on the UK vaudeville scene as “Highland Harry.”
He was just going back to his roots after all that slick 007 stuff…
Johny Shitcase does the best reviews of Zardoz:
Well done! Recaps the movie and includes a Top 5 moments.
Are we sure this wasn’t directed by Peter Greenaway?
Nope, Boorman all the way. Zardoz, Excalibur, Deliverance, Hope and Glory. I keep thinking he did The Man Who Would Be King, but that was Huston. Could have been, though.
It’s got the lighting, the weirdness, the typography, some classical music — although not as nice as Nyman.
Or….. we can trace the bulk of Greenaway’s oeuvre back to Zardoz? That almost makes sense.
Zardoz isn’t pretentious enough…
Isn’t all cinema pretense? Too much cinema thinks it is vérité. Greenaway, and defintiely Boorman in Zardoz, make no bones about their pretense. They are constructing something, and do not wish to hide that fact from us, nor themselves.
OtherMichael, sorry I was commenting facetiously rather then honestly answering your rhetorical question. I recognise what you’re saying regarding pretense.
I do find it funny to imagine Greenaway watching Zardoz and deciding that it was the direction he should take his art rather than say Alain Resnais, Godard (with all the politics extracted) and Bruegel. I just think there’s a world of difference between the two (Boorman & Greenaway) and it is hard for me to imagine Greenaway would deign to watch something that might be considered “popular” cinema. Which is where my comment was coming from. But, hey, stranger things could happen. And I’d be first in line for some Peter Greenaway post-apocalyptic psychedelia featuring a slumming name actor (as long as he has a luxuriant mat of chest hair).
All I know is when I first saw it I wanted to have sex with all future ladies and Charlotte Rampling. And invest in Scottish man-didies and red sashes. And handguns. And grain.
When I saw Zardoz, I kept falling asleep and waking up during the second half, so I’m not sure what I saw and what I dreamt.
Of course, I may not have actually fallen asleep at all. Hard to tell.
Steve Kilbey, the singer and lyricist for The Church, had the exact same experience — only he got a song out of it…
It was about two hours.
(love that joke)
Maybe they were going after the Barbarella crowd.
Saw Zardoz with Boorman in attendance a few years back. He seemed more wryly amused than embarrassed looking back on the whole thing, saying that Zardoz was “a little bit prophetic, and a little bit pathetic.” Told a great story about Connery: they shot the last scene (where Connery ages) last, and apparently Connery REALLY hated the whole process of the aging make-up. Anyway, they finished up, and Connery was all set to head away on a golfing trip, but some goon working on the set opened up the can of film and ruined it! So they have to go tell Sean he had to get made up to do the last scene all over again, and he goes berserk! Goes after the goon who ruined the film and eventually has to be held back by about five people! Don’t think that guy had much of a career in the film industry after that.
Anyway, Zardox isn’t a bad film – its one of those eccentric, sincere, gonzo/outsider art movies that transcends conventional aesthetic standards.
My friend who works as a minder at the local film festival said that Sean Connery was the nastiest celebrity that he’s ever seen.
You know I think you hit it rightly – it is not that Zardoz is really that bad (there is so much worse…) just eccentric, overly sincere and desperately trying to be something more then it could possibly be. I always connect it with Dennis Hopper’s the Last Movie in that way. Both are dated & problematic but I find both captivating as failed artistic expressions. I think ambitious failures are more interesting then mediocre successes, but that’s me.
When I saw the movie as a teenager under the influence it seemed to boil down to this: The brute that took down the sophisticates by being a brute and not seeing the emperors new clothes.
That and the one dude looked like Eric Idle.
Hacktavists unite! Destroy the Tabernacle and it’s gift of living death!
I kinda wish they’d remake it but swap all the gender roles.
Or make the Sean Connery tribe aggressive queers and the Charlotte Rampling tribe conservative church-going straights.
Either of those might make a decent film.
Maybe we could get Bruce LaBruce interested. And Connery’s tribe has got to be bears. I mean, just look at that rug…
That would be awesome.
How about Angelina Jolie as Zed and Lindsay Wagner as the Arthur Frayn character?
The Zardoz head could be replaced with a fully animated, speaking, Sigourney Weaver head.
Instead of the banana slings everyone could wear sensible jumpsuits.
The stagnant society and barbarian wilderness could be the result of some sort of tremendously advanced pyramid scheme.
Really the only casting challenge is figuring out where to put Ron Perlman.
Ah, thank you for that acid-trip flashback. Zardoz. But they left off the second half of the “Gun is good!” quote!
I was just reading a great critical work that claimed Zardoz is a remake of High Noon. Unfortunately it didn’t go into much detail about that claim, because the book was Carl Barks and the Disney Comic Book: Unmasking the Myth of Modernity by Thomas Andrae. (not making this up.) I think he was confusing Zardoz with Outland.
I thought you were mis-remembering or pulling our collective leg, so I googled it. I apologize.
I thought Andrae had some remarkable insight, but when I started searching the web for “zardoz high noon”, I found people mentioning that other Sean Connery movie, Outland, which is obviously like High Noon. I’m sure that’s what he meant.
Zed doesn’t seem focused on a specific villain who’s coming to get him. He wants to bring down the whole messy society, not one person. For another thing, he doesn’t ask a bunch of people to help him fight any villain. He wanders through the whole movie from one weird experience to another, drinking it all in.
Outland is definitely High Noon… and I thought it was a pretty good remake/re-setting.
Zardoz is a textbook of practical special effects. If you are shooting a low-budget science fiction or fantasy film, you should probably watch it.
Most of the effects appear to be stolen from the projected spew of Sixties rock light shows. But they are distinctive and imaginative. No other science fiction movie looks anything like Zardoz.
Charlotte Rampling is the only reason to watch this movie more than once.
THE PENIS IS EVIL!
I loved Zardoz, though more because I enjoy that kind of demented surrealism than it being good.
And bad as the movie is, I still rate it higher than roughly 80% of movies currently released these days.
I like this shorter version of the Cloud Atlas trailer.
We saw this movie stoned out of your gourd and missed the first 5 minutes and the massive giveaway in them. As a result this movie went from one impossibly strange and nonsensical vignette to the next. Then we stayed and saw the first 5 minutes of the next showing, looked at each other, scratched our heads, and said, “that’s what it really was about?” It was unforgettable.
Zardoz is among an elite group of films I call “noble failures”. These are films that fail on most fronts when viewed with a critical eye, but are made with enough passion, wit, and vision that they nonetheless produce interesting and enjoyable. In this list I would also include Tank Girl and Cemetary Man. I wouldn’t call any of these films “good”. But they an infectious gonzo punk rock energy.
For a while I had the Zardoz quote, “The gun is good! The penis is evil!” as my answering machine greeting. You can’t help but love a movie with a line like that.
The description I tend to use for those is “better than it had any right to be”.
THE GUN IS GOOD!!!
What a weird movie. I sorta liked it.
The plot of ZARDOZ : the 1% screws the 99%, until the rich collapse due to their stagnation as the barbarians sweep in.
Also, this movie could have been made by Mormons. There are zero non-whites in the film.
I love the font used for the text in the trailer, anyone know what it is? Beats the snot out of Papyrus.
“The gun is good! The penis is evil!”
I think that’s such a resonant catchphrase because we’re all trained by Freud to link the two. If you have someone telling us guns are good, it must also be someone who tells us penises are good, and vice versa.
But Not Zardoz
Best thing ever. EVER.
My dad took me to a double feature of Zardoz and 2001 at the age of 8. I have never been the same…
I’m just gonna leave this here….
One of the best films ever made, I say this, and my friends think that I am crazy.
Excellent 1970′s Art Direction, thoughtful philosophical moments, big flying heads, and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony…
The narrator at the beginning sounds like patrick stewart. he would have been about 34 when this film was made.
And he was in Excalibur.
I base that on the above post
Man’s Search For Happiness
which is based on a 60s Mormon film. No non-whites in that film either.
Boy, someone sure is sensitive, especially when something is true.
’cause only Mormons make films with only white people?
MORMONS ARE EVIL !
Except, of course, when they’re NOT ;>)