Tape 210 – Side A
Transcription by B. T.
(Hiss and cracks sounds)
(The sound of someone taking a drink can be heard. Then a sudden cough and the speaker begins in a low and even tone.)
File 234-2WC Subject: Zardoz.
Until this cinematic abortion, Sean Connery had carved a niche clear through the psyche of filmgoers worldwide. To see him prancing about in what can only be described as french-cut bikini is both an insult to the sensibility of the viewer and the man’s sense of self-worth. It is ponderous as to what compelled him to accept a part in what can only be described as a acid-driven, fever dream. Zardoz is the story of a post apocalyptic 2293 in which humans have been separated into two factions: The Eternals and The Brutals. The Eternals are effectively immortal and live in a domed area which protects them from outside elements. The Brutals grow the food Eternals eat and are spread out across a wasteland without borders. Connery plays Zed, a member of the Brutal Exterminators who terrorize and occasionally cull the Brutal population under the orders of a floating stone head referred to only as Zardoz. Zed begins to question his duties and finds a way to gain access to the Head’s interior, revealing it is actually a ship of some unknown design. After a brief exploration, Zed encounters, and subsequently, kills the ship’s sole occupant. The ship returns to the Eternal’s area with Zed stowing away. He encounters Eternal society first-hand. They are powerful psychics who live a very bohemian lifestyle of endless feasts and orgies. They care little about anything but pleasure and self-fulfilment. However, there is a type of “group think” at play. Defiance of the majority results in a punishment involving rapid-aging and exile. Zed, a product of the wastes, is a disruptive force and is soon manipulated and used by the Eternals until he finds the strength to resist and ultimately locate the source of their power and destroy it.
Normally this would be a compelling story. A man overcoming great odds and leading a populace to liberation from what is clearly a living death. However, this movie is a broken series of quick cuts and long drawn-out shots with little if any payoff. It is a schizophrenia cacophony of ideas strung together by a lead character whose personality bounces between monosyllabic misanthrope to haughty judgmental. Zed is the quintessential toxic male; he blunders his way through conversations or stands almost mannequin-like while a scene unfolds around him.
If anything, this movie, a term I only use because it is a form of visual media, is a cautionary tale. The clear division between The Eternals and The Brutals is a metaphor for the class struggle evident in today’s social dynamic. The wealthy live in opulence while the Middle class dissolves into a more feudal oligarchy. The pursuit of pleasure outweighs the need for welfare and common decency. Political rhetoric is abandoned for philosophical ideology. This is John Stewart Mill’s utilitarian utopia replete with an effigy of Plato himself serving as the overlord servitor to the common masses of the marginalized Brutals. The Exterminators represent the abuse of law enforcement. Lacking any need for a standing army, The Exterminators act as agents of autocratic order and an ever-present deterrent to thoughts of discourse and rebellion. When power is given to the few to manage the many, tyranny rises to claim dominion. It is not too late to change the course. Wide sweeping change is still possible. It’s emburdoned upon future generations to look upon their world not as a burden to exploit and abandon but as a fertile ground to grow new ideas and further the advancement of humankind away from a sterile future.
If you watch this film and manage to gain some ounce of enjoyment from it, I commend you. It is not an easy watch. I found myself repeatedly looking to the aisle and contemplating storming the ticket booth and demanding my money back but I felt I needed to finish, if only for the sake of being able to give a complete accounting. It is important that all details be disclosed.
(The speaker pauses for a moment then mumbles incoherently about forgetting to credit the director and giving a date for the film’s release. He makes a note in the recording to come back at some point and add it in post-production. No edit was ever made however.)
Movie is very dated for being “sci-fi.” Filmed in 1974, well after Connery made his name as James Bond. Written, produced, and directed by John Boorman. Later, was novelized (note: let Crystal Dawn know – this might interest her.) Very weird. I was too distracted by, quite frankly, the embarrassing one piece to give a proper perspective. Marking tape and file for a revisit in 2 years.