What is it about?
If there is one movie that is in serious need of a revival/reboot, it is the 1974 Post Apocalyptic film Zardoz.
You can find hints, easter eggs and references to the movie everywhere. Excalibur, Pulp Fiction, Dark City, Wonder Boys, Futurama, Rick and Morty and countless other instances in movie fandom discussions.
But why has no one ever seen it?
Because it’s old, it was released in 1974. It also has one of the most incredibly terrible opening scenes in perhaps the entirety of cinema history.
But what follows is an incredibly thoughtful and thought-provoking film.
The second scene is an amazing one in which we watch a terrifying stone head tell his followers to go forth and kill.
Sean Connery stars as Zed, a man who discovers that his entire world is a lie.
The god Zardoz is the creation of Frayn, a descendant of the rich.
What we discover throughout the movies is that the rich and powerful followed a genius scientist behind the sanctuary of an impenetrable wall called the vortex. This kept them safe during the Apocalypse.
This scientist invented a method to transfer consciousness into diamonds. This new technology also enables a form of psychic abilities via these implanted gems.
Once the people experience death, they are reconstructed, and their being is transferred into a newly constructed body, undergoing a method to cheat death and become immortal.
This, however, has the side effect that the men become completely impotent and are wholly unable to produce erections.
Experiences are transferred into a supercomputer Artificial Intelligence, which collects and then stores what is to be the sum of all of mankind’s intelligence and knowledge (at least the rich ones anyway).
Meanwhile, the poor and middle class were prevented from entering the Vortex. The apocalypse is unnamed, it is not the main plot point of the story.
Perhaps more terrifying than the apocalypse is the fact that we learn that the immortals, either through apathy or direct action, have created a post-apocalypse where this false god commands it’s followers to “go forth and kill.” To kill normal people.
When you see the average population (Brutals as they are referred to) strolling around in dirty business attire, you are left wondering why would they need to die. The only reason is that they reproduce. The average man can and does make more people.
The post-apocalyptic landscape isn’t an irradiated hell hole, no mutated monsters are wandering the land. It is fertile, plants are growing everywhere.
In fact, it is because of this that Zed, Sean Connery, rebels and kills his god because he is commanded not to destroy but to gather the Brutals to sow and harvest wheat.
The Immortals cannot feed themselves and find that they need the Brutals to eat. At the same time, they seem to be unwilling to do it themselves wishing only to do the tasks that they want, even though they seem to be incredibly bored with the very act of living.
The movie is thought-provoking. It is an entirely new version of post-apocalypse, even though it is ancient. Rarely do you find an intriguing film such as
Maybe that is why it has not gained incredible mass appeal but seems to have a long-lasting influence on media influencers in the form of homage.
You can tell that the period that produced this film had no idea, no real vocabulary to express the kind of technology that was being used in this future post apoc. It is as if you are looking in at a prophesy as expressed by Nostradamus.
A childless wealthy leadership that looks upon the average man as verminous simpletons to be manipulated and killed by invaders chosen at whim by the rich. Ordinary citizens who are then only be turned into a cheap form of labor to sustain the existence of the wealthy elite.
What kind of parallel could you find in today’s world?
The movie is dated. The many cringe-worthy elements don’t end at the opening scene. It is chock full of 1970’s cheese and pseudo-mystical elements related to this era.
My wife (who didn’t really watch it) commented on the considerable amount of nipples on display throughout the film. For me, it wasn’t of any interest as I am not interested in man nipple or the occasional tiny female breast.
The ending is somewhat nonsensical and it along with other scenes feel more like a crappy art film than a major production.
If you can watch older films and can take them with an eye towards attempting to reference them in the time frame that they were made, this is an excellent film.
It will be difficult for most to watch in today’s world, but it is perhaps one of the most highly underrated movies of a post-apocalyptic nature.