A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 30 – Zardoz

Zardoz – March 30, 2010

So. Yeah. Zardoz. A movie starring a shirtless Sean Connery in a red loincloth and leather thigh-high boots. A movie that starts out with some bizarre exposition and a line about the penis being evil. It’s a lot like a fever dream, really. A dystopian fever dream about sex and death and the perils of immortality. Fitting, then, that the main character is played by Sean “Ramirez the Egyptian Spanish Peacock” Connery. Sadly, there’s no beheading in Zardoz. What there is, is a lot of ADR dialogue. There is so much talking in this movie. What should be the beginning of the climax is actually a bunch of the characters reading famous literature out loud, but only in snippets, while being lit by slides of classical art.

I tried to give a basic overview of the plot to a friend and it’s kind of impossible to describe succinctly while also sharing the true scope of the movie and what makes it more than just a sixties dystopia scifi flick. Because it’s not. It’s truly not. You really have to know about the giant stone head and the diatoms and the “touch teaching” to understand just why this is one of the strangest movies we own.

Now, I’m all for dystopias. I find them fascinating. I had the pleasure of hearing the author William Tenn speak a few years back when WorldCon was in Boston, and he spoke about how he believed that every utopia conceived of will always be someone’s dystopia. That no matter what your perfect and ideal world would be, it would be hell to someone else. There is no universal utopia. I think it’s a brilliant observation, and one which movies and literature about dystopias have to be built on in some way. In Zardoz, the dystopia the movie is set in also has what was planned as a utopia, but which is failing. It’s not a utopia for everyone, and for those who don’t fit, and for those who aren’t included, it’s horrible.

You see, the world at large is an untamed wasteland, populated by uncivilized people who are kept in check by a group of “chosen” men who are given weapons by what they believe is a god. The god, Zardoz, is a big stone head that dispenses guns and the instructions to control the others, either by killing them or enslaving them. One of the chosen men, Zed (Sean Connery) learns (is taught) how to read and is enlightened. He stows away inside the head and kills the man piloting it, thereby managing to get into a hidden valley where the secret ruling class lives.

Turns out what’s going on is that there are these “vortexes” in hidden valleys, shielded from the untamed land, populated by a bunch of immortal hippies who claim they’re maintaining all of mankind’s knowledge. One of them built the head as a manner of controlling the people outside of the valley, but really he had a larger plan the whole time. The immortal hippies keep Zed around to study him because he’s so different from them. See, they’re all stagnating and/or going insane due to living forever and not having sex anymore. But Sean Connery’s character brings sex and violence back to them and then they all grope him to “touch teach” him everything they know so he can kill them all.

There’s more to the climax, but it’s mostly a lot of talking about how the vortexes were built with the best of intentions but humanity can’t handle immortality and while all the talking’s going on a group of the immortal hippies are hunting Zed through the valley to kill him for fucking up their dys/utopia. Eventually he finds a way to make the immortal hippies into mortal hippies, which seems to make them all pretty happy, since they were actually miserable living forever and not having sex.

And then he and one of the women climb back into the head and have a baby and grow old and die within about five minutes of movie time.

The end!

March 30, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , ,

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