Link fixed, migraine Feb. 22, 12:30PM PST
JOHN BOORMAN – “ZARDOZ” DVD commentary track
“Zardoz” is, well — just one of those things.
One of the legendary cinematic mindfucks of the ’70s — alongside the epics “The Holy Mountain”, “B.J. Lang Presents” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” — “Zardoz” is an indescribable pile of loose, ambitious and somewhat psychedelic sci-fi claptrap. Which is to say that I love it. The plot:
A dystopian future…finds a ruling elite using heightened powers only to sustain an unnatural and unhappy social balance in a sanctuary called The Vortex. Â These Eternals have perfected the ability to live forever, but are losing basic aspects of their humanity, like sexuality and ambition.
One Eternal, Arthur Frayn (Niall Buggy) has taken charge of the savages that live outside the Vortex: The Brutals, and the Exterminators. Flying about in a giant stone head, Frayn has created a false God named Zardoz who gives the Exterminators guns and ammunition and teaches them that killing is good and procreation evil. Â One Exterminator, Zed (Sean Connery) kills Arthur…penetrates the Vortex and upsets the society within. Â
May (Sara Kestelman) wants to study him, while Consuela (Charlotte Rampling) thinks he’s dangerous and must be destroyed. Â Zed…eventually goads the Eternals into seeking Death, which he and his Vortex-invading Exterminators are only too ready to dish out, wholesale.
Such a lavish and ridiculous film could have only been made in the ’70s — and such a film could only be bankrolled by a studio in the ’70s if the director had proved himself worthy with a massive audience hit. Lucky for John Boorman, whose previous film “Deliverance” was a smashing success, all the cards fell into place, and we are left with one of the most gloriously self-indulgent sci-fi messes ever committed to film. It’s photographed excellently, the score is awesome, the actors give their all even when the dialogue and motivations are completely ass-backwards — it’s got all the moves. “Zardoz” is a fucking hoot!
And what’s even better is the DVD director’s commentary. Boorman is instantly on-guard from its first moments; he knows that the film has a long history of being scorned and maligned, and he tries to set he record straight on his intentions, and tries to give a better handle on what exactly is happening throughout the film. Then, about two-thirds of the way through he admits that the film is “a bit of a farrago”. If you look up the word “farrago” on Dictionary.com, you get: “a confused mixture; hodgepodge.” Usually directors of Boorman’s stature don’t readily admit that their missteps are in fact missteps, but he’s a bigger man than most in his profession, it seems.