From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Zardoz

John Boorman's Zardoz is one of the most controversial cult films of all time but not because of the nudity, violence, gory effects or other things that usually happened in the realm of exploitation. It's because of the inherant weirdness and star Sean Connery.


After the 1971 Bond film Diamonds Are Forever (which is one of my favorites), Sean retired from his iconic role and tried to move on to other projects. Unfortunately, the most notorious one is Zardoz because of the crazy suit he wears. The red suit that he dons in this film has become a focus of ridicule. I totally disagree with that aspect because Zardoz is one of my favorite films! That's right, I love this film because of its message.

The story takes place in the dystopian future in which civilians are divided in to two groups. First is the Brutals, they are ordinary people who wear black suits and are into breeding. The second group is the Exterminators. They are a group of people in red suits that worship a fake god called Zardoz. In the beginning of this film, Zardoz gives a memorable speech that later becomes a slogan for 21st century people: "The gun is good, the penis is evil". Later, one of the Exterminators called "Zed"(Sean Connery) decides to sneak inside the Zardoz and kills Arthur Frayn, the one who controls Zardoz. This is the beginning of Zed's journey through the small village of people....and death.


From what I've heard, this film tells us to wake up and stop dreaming about ideology. The small village in the film run by Eternals (a group of immortal people that has a lot of knowledge) has to vote before they can do anything. They eat rice that Zardoz brings in but most importantly they hate sexual relationships. Although this town has no upper/working class (everyone is equal), those who violate the law are punished by raising their age and sending these "renegades" into some sort of a chaotic jazz club in which everyone wears tuxedos and bow ties. The town is happy until they find out many problems going on. The most important one is the fact that they are immortal so they start to become bored with their lives.

Zed is sent by Arthur Fryan to end the city's chaos. He tells the story that he's an Exterminator that kills Brutals. One day he finds out from an abandoned library that Zardoz's name is derived from "Wizard of OZ", a classic novel. His anger about this is combined with the command from Zardoz that Exterminators don't have to kill Brutals now. They have to cultivate and aggregate all of the Brutals' rice to Zardoz. He then decides to take revenge against the false god that lied to him. Later we find out (again) that Zed is actually sent by Arthur Fryan to end the chaos in Eternals' city.


As I said before, what I love about the film is its weirdness and its message. First, let's talk about the weirdness. This film is filled with a lot of hippie psychedelia, especially in the Eternals' village and in the big finale. What about its message? Well, it tells us that ideology does not always work so we should live facing things that happen in real life. Just look at the Eternals, they live in a small village with ideologies about communism, equality, immortality, but there are still lots of problems going on. I'm not saying that this film is anti-hippie or anti-communist, but I've read many books about the 70's that told there were many hippie communes in the USA and interestingly, they had no sex just like in the Eternals' village. That's why I think this film may have captured what was going on around that time in a very smart way.

I'm not sure that the six paragraphs above will make you want to see this film or not, but I guarantee that your life will be changed forever after watching Zardoz!

Nuttawut Permpithak is a Thai student who's spending his final year in university studying marketing. In his free time he watches exploitation films...or any films from the past, writing articles, taking photos and reviewing films for the GCDb.