Zardoz review

Banana Rating: 4 out of 5

Zar­doz is part of that period where Sean Con­nery just seemed to be doing stuff, but no-one was inter­ested, because they’d rather he was just doing another James Bond movie. That period didn’t come to an end until The Untouch­ables. So there are two dis­tinct phases of Sean Con­nery. Phase One where he was Bond and young-looking. Phase Two is where he’s sud­denly old with a grey beard, and play­ing Indi­ana Jones’s dad.

In-between the two phases was a phase which I won’t give a num­ber to, because I’m not even sure it was real. Did it really exist? For a time, it’s like an altern­ate ver­sion of Con­nery wandered in from another uni­verse, and took over act­ing duties, whilst our ver­sion of Con­nery whiled away the lazy days prac­ti­cing his golf swing.

The bene­fits of a wan­ing career is that per­haps you can make any old shite, and get away with it. What have you got to lose? Apart from your dig­nity. And Con­nery’s dig­nity gets well trampled here, as for most of Zar­doz he has to run around bare-chested in noth­ing but a red nappy. At this point of his movie star­dom, time has not been kind to his hairy man tits, which bob up and down ener­get­ic­ally in the cool breeze of the Irish coun­tryside (not far from the dir­ector, John Boor­man’s house).

It's a mad, mad movie

But y’know what? Even if he’s out of shape, it doesn’t mat­ter. Because he’s Sean fuck­ing Con­nery. There’s prob­ably more movie star cha­risma in his mous­tache alone than in the entire body of some mod­ern Hol­ly­wood act­ors. And by Christ, does he need to call on every drop of that cha­risma to stand a chance of mak­ing it through Zar­doz.

Because it’s a mad, mad movie.

Set in the year 2293, after the world has fallen foul of the usual apoc­a­lypse, Earth is split among the Bru­tals and the Eter­nals. The Bru­tals are pretty much like me and you, except they don’t have access to deodor­ant and wash­ing pow­der. But there are other Bru­tals too, called Exter­mi­na­tors. Their job is to kill any­thing that isn’t them.

They’re pro­vided with weapons by a mas­sive, fly­ing stone head called Zar­doz who peri­od­i­cally drops in to give a ser­mon about how “the gun is good” and “the penis is evil”. Zar­doz is under the con­trol of the Eter­nals, who live in a hippy com­mune par­adise called the Vor­tex. One day, an Exter­mi­na­tor called Zed (Con­nery) decides to secretly hitch a ride on the stone head back into the Vortex.

His mis­sion at this point isn’t clear. The impres­sion I got was that it was one of simple curi­os­ity. Who wouldn’t want to climb into the mouth of a giant, fly­ing stone head and see where it goes?

Connery gets a boner

Zar­doz was dir­ec­ted by John Boor­man straight after Deliv­er­ance, and it couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent to that film. It’s a tale of false gods, top­less women, red nap­pies, strange bread, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, level 2 med­it­a­tion, beards drawn on with marker pens, and every­one stand­ing around gig­gling when Con­nery gets a boner. Because, y’know, the penis is evil.

It’s a film that pulls me in two dif­fer­ent dir­ec­tions. One side of me loves all the bonkers ideas that it con­tains. The other side of me is less appre­ci­at­ive of just how cheesy it is, of the way it seems to have dated quite badly in a lot of places. Today, someone else might look at the film with fresh eyes and dis­miss it because of that. Some­thing it doesn’t deserve.

It’s here that I think, “Would Zar­doz bene­fit from a remake?” But it’s a thought that gets quickly dis­missed. It’s abso­lutely the product of a dir­ector oper­at­ing in a par­tic­u­lar time and place, with a par­tic­u­lar type of energy that should it be rep­lic­ated, would lack the soul that makes Zar­doz unique.