Posted at 12:17 PM on July 3, 2008
by Euan Kerr
I recently revisited one of my favorite films of my teen years. John Boorman's "Zardoz" (1974) explores a dystopian world of the future where brutal gangs of armed thugs terrorize the population. They worship a giant flying head called Zardoz who supplies them with weapons and ammunition. It is Zardoz who commands the gangs to kill.
The elite live in vortexes, safe behind a forcefield, but plagued by their inability to die. Things change when one of the 'brutals' as they are known, a man called Zed (Sean Connery)manages to find a way into a vortex.
Through his story Boorman explores the human experience. There are moments when the exploration does go a little awry, and it goes from whacky to wacked out, yet he always wrestles it back onto course again.
I have to admit that the opening sequence (below) remains one of my favorite prologues of all time.
I have a real soft spot for "Zardoz". As flawed a film as it is, it was willing to absolutely go for broke, to blow itself to pieces. Movies today tend to be so anemic and risk-averse: they're workshopped and focus-grouped and response-carded to death.
I've heard that the prologue with Arthur Freyn was imposed by the studio, which wanted some sort of exposition at the beginning. And Boorman gave them what they asked for -- but on his own decidedly loopy terms.