Film Bitch History
Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.


Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!
Comment Fun

What will & should win Best Comedy at the Emmys?

"If Veep wins I won’t complain. Really smart series that ended on a perfect note." - Lucky

"Russian Doll is probably the most affecting show I watched over the last year. It's brilliant and I love it - but as you say, its format and its tone is not at all friendly to it winning this. I" - ScottC

"Fleabag: Exhilarating, high wire stuff. Any episode is a masterclass of writing." -Arkaan

Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500... no 461 Patron SaintsIf you read us daily, please be one.  Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience



Directors of For Sama

Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

What'cha Looking For?
« A "Zootopia" Top Ten | Main | Today's Must Read: Streep's "Kramer vs Kramer" Breakthrough »

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Sci-Fi Oddity "Zardoz" (1974)

"And now for something completely different"... Zardoz (1974)

I didn't mean to begin with a Monty Python quote but they were Brit contemporaries of Writer/Director John Boorman. And Zardoz (1974), the follow up to his most enduring classic (Deliverance, 1972) might be better if it were aiming for comedy instead of merely conjuring laughs. Nevertheless it doesn't get any more "different" than John Boorman's bizarre drug trip about false gods, immortal hippie communes, sentient crystals, marauding assassins, chest hair, and Charlotte Rampling's unique power to both cause erections and lecture about them simultaneously.

I chose it for Best Shot only to finally make sense of its frequent meme-ready presence online -- the jokes on me as it will never make any sense -- but I don't regret it. It's too weird to go unseen. It's the only movie in existence that begins with a floating disembodied head spewing out firearms, the only movie where you'll ever see Sean Connery licking another man while wearing a red diaper, and the only film to demonstrate the potent psychic peer pressure of jazz hands.

"Meditate on this at second level" with us after the [NSFW] jump...

This jazz hands meditation command is my runner up for best shot. I love the suffocating low diagonal ceiling of foilage (faux because there's nothing "natural" in the movie), the outstretched undead arms (with wiggling jazz hands), and for being an image which hints at the film's apocalyptically ugly costuming (by the director's wife). To a one the costumes are unflattering, eyesore colorful, immodestly flimsy, and usually attempt to embarrass the actor with ill advised crotch details, peekaboo nipples, or nonsensical unflattering proportions.

(My choice for the film's best image is at the end of this index from our Best Shot participants.)

Please do click on these images to read the corresponding articles because Zardoz is much more fun to read about than actually watch! 

Despite its all but complete absence of a meaningfully comprehensible plot, Zardoz is part of the history of narrative film.
- Antagony & Ecstasy

(I don't know how Tim does it each and every week of this series but he always says coherent fascinating surprising things about any movie we assign.)

The best thing to come out of the movie was the discovery that it was directed by the same guy who did Deliverance/Hope and Glory…and The Exorcist II. I’ve now decided that I love John Boorman.
-Scophophiliac at the Cinema 

It's a fine pick so close to April Fool's Day because the joke is on the viewer 
-Sorta That Guy 

(Jason asks a question people have been asking for 42 years in his writeup. We still have no answer)

A crime against art presented as something meaningful...
-Magnificent Obsession

(I apologize profusively to Cláudio who claims he watched the film THREE times to write this piece; that's commitment... and masochism!)

All I know for sure is that it’s a wonder that this movie exists at all. But then, that’s the 70’s for you.
-Allison Tooey

(Allison's also been a faithful Best Shot-er. Thanks, Allison!) 

Jokes aside about the indecipherably strange plot, the visuals are pretty fun
-Film Mix Tape

(Chris wisely sees that Charlotte Rampling always rises above her material, no matter what qualitative rung it occupies)

I suspected we might have a small turnout this week since Zardoz is no one's favorite movie. (Well, maybe this guys) and it's not streaming for free anywhere but if you ever get a chance to see it you must.

Otherwise you'll never know the perfection of Charlotte Rampling lecturing about the evils and mysteries of the penis. It's not the best shot even though it's one of the most perfectly sensible matches of actress and scene to have ever been projected onto screens.

My best shot:

This sequence is long and strange and involves Sean Connery's "monster" downloading the entirety of human cultural and intellectual knowledge via 'touch teach' from Avalow. She's played by Sally Anne Newton, who made three movies in 1974 and never worked in the movies again (?!?) adding to the movie's already endless list of curiosities. Avalow is the first Eternal he sees inside "The Vortex" (where most of the movie takes place) and she seems to be some sort of psychic leader though everyone votes on everything in their version of democracy. The knowledge the Brutal receives is visually represented with projections onto his body -- famous paintings, text, photographs, etcetera. It's oddly beautiful as shot by the great Geoffrey Unsworth (Cabaret, 2001, Superman).

This image is perfect for so many reasons but let's site these three: 

  • The projections are simple as visual "effects" go but projections on the human body will never not result in eye catching imagery
  • "The Monster" protagonist is actually revealed as forever passive further confusing the already confused messages -- his early violence is projected onto him by the commune's faux religion to keep the Brutals in line and now he becomes enlightenment and non-violent but also through the commune's teaching. 
  • And finally the image is just about the only sensual thing in a decidedly unsexy movie. Despite all the talk of penises, despite the commune's preoccupation with sex, despite Sean Connery's sweat causing a kissing orgy (I'm not making any of this up), it's a decidedly unsexy movie. The "sex" scenes aren't even that; there are but two of them and both are rape sequences. Sean Connery's infamously terrible costume gets its one great effective moment as the tumescent knot in his red loincloth diaper doubles as a visual stand-in for that erection that we've heard so much about. 


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (11)

Very Zardoz-heavy blog and I love it. Don't ever stop.

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDavid S.

I posted mine!

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAR

Sorry I'm late!

You can find my entry here:

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAllison Tooey

Ar & Allison -- i've added you both. Also Allison -- why do you save your images so tiny each time. BIGGER plz :)

March 29, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I won't get to post my pick until tomorrow. Netflix didn't give me the DVD today as I had planned. But I can't wait to see what all the crazy is all about. ;)

March 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Who designed Connery's bikini and boots getup, Bob Mackie?

March 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterrick gould

Rick -- the director's wife!

March 30, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nice articles, everyone.

I'd imagine there are plenty of people for whom Zardoz is their favorite movie! I'm not one of them, but I do genuinely love it, and not in a "tee hee, guilty pleasure" kind of way. It's a fascinating mess in the way that only a director at the height of his powers could deliver, and worth digging into, even if, as Tim concludes, the ideas and motifs in the movie don't even come close to gelling into something coherent. I wish more movies took these kinds of insane, only-in-the-70s risks.

March 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I tend to save my pictures at 624x351 pixels, which is the size they become when I paste my screencaps into Word. It's Livejournal that shrinks them down. If you click on the picture, it should take you to my scrapbook, where they become bigger. If you'd like me to increase the size or see if I can change that setting in LJ, though, I'll see what I can do.

March 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAllison Tooey

Addendum: I just tried it and discovered that LJ does NOT let you click on the pictures. I swear they used to let you do that before. Anyway, I can post them in a larger size going forward, no problem.

Also, just as a heads-up, you haven't put this entry into the "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" tag.

March 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAllison Tooey

Late entry! Apologies! But yeah... what is this film?!

March 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>