Zardoz (1974)

Director: John Boorman

Talking of films that don’t make sense… actually that’s unfair; the reasonably broad outlines of Zardoz are clearer than I expected them to be and the narrative actually does make sense (although it surely does take its sweet bloody time doing so). Some of the individual details, mind you, are a markedly different story… Anyway, I first saw this way back when, possibly the late 80s, early 90s, I can’t actually remember any more; I only recall seeing it on TV, and only watching about half of it cos it was confusing the hell out of me… and let’s face it, it does get off to a fairly baffling beginning, in which the sight of Sean Connery dressed in… whatever the fuck THAT costume was supposed to be wasn’t the most perplexing thing. Still, I knew one day I’d give it some sort of second chance, and one day I actually found it at the library, ripped it for future revisiting, and deemed tonight to be the night I finally did so. Big revelation: Zardoz, whatever else may be said for or against it, is phenomenal to look at, Geoffrey Unsworth’s cinematography is nothing if not consistently jaw-dropping (blessed, obviously, by the choice of locations), and this is an important aspect of the film I would’ve no doubt missed watching it cropped for TV al those years ago. And, as I said, the story actually does come together: after an unspecified apocalypse, humanity divides into “Eternals” who’ve discovered immortality and “Brutals” who haven’t, and over time (which they have plenty of) one of the former breeds a kind of mutant “Brutal” with the ability to bring death to the Eternals and otherwise liven up their rather dull and dry existence. All that is clear enough from the film, if perhaps only by the very end. The precise fine points of exactly how Zed (Connery) goes about doing this aren’t always so clear (particularly the confrontation with the Tabernacle)… Still, on the whole I found this a lot more interesting and successful than I’d expected to, going on my own early experience and the film’s general reputation, so I think we can overlook those murkier patches…

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