Monday, March 28, 2011

Films That I Love #1-->ZARDOZ

John Boorman's wildly entertaining 1974 dystopian tale begins with this line, "The gun is good, the penis is evil...go forth and Kill!"

Zardoz is set in a future where a population of elites are immortal, and the rest of Humanity have been made into beasts of burden, within this outer world there is a "privileged" subset called the Exterminators who lord over the rest, and cull the population by murder. Sean Connery is one of the Exterminators, and once he gains entrance into the world of the immortals (the Vortex) he begins to unravel their dreary existence of conformity and sterilty (they have even give up reproducing) the fit and furry Connery naturally exudes testosterone, and he is perfect as the animalistic, sexy "monster" Zed (representing the "natural world", and it's vitality.) 

I saw this Movie in '74 when it came out, and have loved it since. Cable had it on the other night, and I was happy to note that I still find it a fine movie, and I am even more impressed by it's themes--as an atheist I certainly responded to it's thesis of religion (Zardoz is a giant flying stone God head) being used to manipulate  human-beings against their best interest, (Boorman was educated in Catholic School, BTW, a fact that I find not insignificant) not to mention the way Boorman portrayed a future society where no one dies (dreary, and limp, with little difference between genders--all women are slim and small busted, all men have been stripped of masculinity, it has also become a society where "crimes" (usually someone bucking conformity, & the pervasive groupthink) are punished harshly (at least by this societal standard) by aging, which was a timely theme in the '70's youthquake atmosphere, but remains just as significant today as youth remains fetishistized. 

Despite eternal youth, what the Immortals really desire is sweet, sweet death (which Zed is happy to provide), and I like what Boorman suggests about the enervating effects of a deathless eternal youth. Add to all this the secret of what "Zardoz" means---which turns out to be a camp hoot, and yes, I find the film deliciously amusing.

In the end, a natural life force, with it's implicit vitality giving parameters of birth and death (not to mention more traditional standards of gender), is restored by the once savage Zed who manages to give one of the former immortals a proper humping that results in a natural born child.  (Cue the pretentious drivel of a student critic, and quote Jean Jacques Rousseau?---nah!) 

Someone made a genius 10 min breakdown of the movie: