New Classics: Zardoz
Looking back on the past 30 years of his career, it’s hard to imagine Sean Connery actually made this movie. Featuring scantily clad female dictators, giant talking statues flying through space, and a post-scientific hippie burnout theology, I’m sure he looks back on this as the youthful indiscretion of his filmmaking career, much as I regret the time I chugged milk until I threw up or tried to cough up french fries through my sinuses. That being said, Zardoz reflects a paranoia about the End of The World Due to Irresponsible Human Industry that has seen a huge resurgence in popularity these days, as we consider our power to destroy ourselves, and the need to rebuild humanity. Hopefully when it happens we won’t all be forced to don his bikini-brief costume.
I won’t even try to make an argument that it’s an explicitly artistic film.
Zardoz is one of those classic B-movies you’ll want to watch with your friends over and over again, probably while playing a drinking game. The plot is almost completely unintelligible until you finish the film and consider what exactly the beginning, middle, and end had to do with each other in retrospect. The acting is… unconvincing, to put it mildly. The production values are in some senses exquisite and well thought out, but equally cheap and amateurish, often resembling a high school play more than a decently budgeted national feature film. It is the very definition of hokey, spending more time explaining its uniquely bizarre setting than it does actually engaging with the ideas it puts forth.
Here’s a small photo gallery to help illustrate it’s b-movie aspects…
Sean Connery’s costume speaks for itself:
Who is Zardoz? This is Zardoz:
This is a world where horses and flying spaceships collide with the NRA mentality:
The film has more awkward arm movement than a Richard Simmons workout video:
And finally, how the movie was advertised:
So, what makes Zardoz worthy of the illustrious “New Classics” title? For one, its unique vision of “the future” tells us leagues about the 70′s and the post-hippie, burnout generation. I’ve honestly never understood why the previous generation seems to hold such a dim view of the Environmentalist movement, but after watching Zardoz for the second time, I’m starting to get a sense of just how crazy the government-grade acid has left some of the more radical elements. The film suggests that humanity will have 1) surrendered its soul to Science, 2) have conquered space and time, yet 3) still not progressed beyond firing metal bullets from guns at each other on horseback while 4) institutionalizing orgies, rape and seduction as a form of governmental control, so that 5) society will exist as little more than a massive labratory experiment explicitly designed to study male physical response. It’s by far the most misogynistic movie I’ve ever seen.
But, abusrd as they are to state explicitly, these qualities are present in almost everything produced in that era; while it may embrace these traditions, it simultaneously mocks and aggrandizes them in its brazenly hallucinogenic irony. It is this over-the-top absurdity that will blow your mind, and that makes it an “Employee Favorite” in independent movie stores worldwide.