|Submitted by Pete |
(Jan 10, 2007)
This strange movie probably seems trite to modern audiences since the impact has become diluted over time. In its day it seemed a little shocking and was slated by the critics who did not seem to understand it.
I first saw it when it was on general release and I had an evening to kill. I was not expecting much, because with the notable exception of 2001 a Space Odyssey, SF movies were often disappointing to say the least and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was dealing with something more interesting than the killer blob from Mars kind of thing.
The general theme is centred around immortality and what humans become if they cannot die. This is played against a background of a post holocaust society where there is a vast split between the wealthy immortals and the barbaric 'brutals'.
The immortals live a god-like existence within a small enclave that is guarded from the brutals by a force field and an over protective computer. All the immortals are bored out of their skulls but find it pointless to go outside the enclave and cannot die. They long for death but the computer simply recreates them if the die. The worst that can happen to them is to be aged and enfeebled whilst remaining immortal, and this is the standard punishment for breaking laws in their society. The more serious the crime the greater the ageing you get.
One of the immortals, a number of generations of brutals before the film begins, has created a religion amongst the brutals by presenting himself to them as Zardoz a powerful and equally brutal deity. Zardoz shows himself as a huge flying stone head and into this idol’s open mouth, the brutals give tribute to their god in the form of food and grain.
In exchange for this tribute Zardoz gives his worshipers guns and other manufactured goods and teaches them to worship the gun.
‘The gun is good!’ The head bellows to its worshipers.
In this way the immortal society gets food supplies and keep the population of brutals down. This is done by Zardoz’s disciples who use their guns to cull the peasant population on a regular basis.
One of the brutals called Zed, (Sean Connery) manages to get aboard the huge flying head and gets into the enclave.
Here he cannot harm any of the immortals and his appearance is treated as a slightly distateful curiosity. To the blasé immortals anything out of the ordinary is some relief from the endless tediousness of living forever and doing the same old thing for century after century. Not all are sympathetic and wish to kill Zed out of hand but he is taken over by the scientific community to study, since they realise he is in many ways superior to their accepted idea of what a brutal should be like and believe he is a mutation.
Zed eventually finds out who his god really is and how he and his fellow brutals have been used and manipulated and needless to say after a lot of self discovery, a really weird session with the computer and some sex, he eventually breaks up the enclave and gives the immortals back the mortality they desire.
Zed’s fellow brutals are now able to break into the enclave and come to join Zed. As they search they deal out death to the immortals who welcome it enthusiastically.
Zed cannot be found by his tribe because he has fallen for one of the immortal women, now mortal, and he hides her away from the killing. The film ends with a rather effective series of montages of them living out their lives together to the sound of Beethoven’s 7th symphony.
Some of the scenes are very 70s and a certain amount of the dialogue is vague and reminiscent of the TV series ‘The Prisoner’ in style but the overall result is still entertaining in a thoughtful sort of way. If you have not seen it give it a try it is no blockbuster but an interesting product of 70s culture.