14th Sep2015

‘Zardoz’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman, John Alderton, Sally Anne Newton, Niall Buggy, Bosco Hogan, Jessica Swift, Bairbre Dowling, Christopher Casson, Reginald Jarman | Written and Directed by John Boorman


To many, Zardoz simply reminds them of Sean Connery in a red bikini but in truth the film is much more than that. With Arrow Video’s new Blu-ray we have a chance to revisit a unique science fiction film that really deserves to be watched and not be mocked in the [out of context way] it always seems to be.

In the year 2293 society has broken down into three distinct classes. The Brutals work the land and are forbidden from reproducing. The Executioners are brutal overseers who rule by the gun, and the Eternals, protected in a force field enclosed Eden of immortality. When a Brutal, Zed (Sean Connery) find his way into the Eternals protected little world he threatens the status quo that has ruled over them all.

Underneath the surreal nature of the movie, Zardoz works on typical science fiction themes and uses them well. Zed is the inspiration for revolution in a world in an apocalyptic world in need of change. A story of class, and the haves and have nots it is all about the revolutionary catalyst to end status quo. In fact this holds up well alongside movies such as Logan’s Run, and television shows like The Prisoner, for the message that they tell. Perhaps the strangest thing is that it managed to be made at all.

As Ben Wheately says in his appreciation of Zardoz (which is included on the Blu-ray) John Boorman must have used his success with Deliverance to push the production through. The fact he also managed to get Sean Connery to play the lead was out of luck. Though it is interesting to note that Burt Reynolds could have easily had this role if he weren’t taken sick. It makes you wonder how different the film could have been, or if it would still stand out as much as it still does.

In this new 4K restoration the film looks good, and the colourful world of the Eternals is striking. This is especially the case when compared to the dull tones of the Brutal’s existence. A commentary by John Boorman is also included as are some brand new interviews with people who worked on the movie. It all adds to the entertainment of the piece, especially when the commentary entices you to take a repeat viewing, which brings out even more meaning. This is especially the case with the tacked on introduction to the film, which while added to make the film more understandable, just confuses the audience even more.

The fact that Zardoz does need repeated viewing to fully understand, does maybe show the ambiguity of the film and the fact that it is ambitious in the story that it is trying to tell. If you want a film that guides you by the hand and explains everything, or even needs little thought then Zardoz will likely not be for you. But if you want a science fiction film in its purest form, without the feeling that the film studio have meddled with it to make it more marketable, then Zardoz is well worth a watch. It will definitely make you think.

The strength of Arrow Video, as a label, is the fact that it takes the cult movies and gives us a chance to see them at their best. While Zardoz may not be a movie that some would regard as being a must buy, I’d argue that it is a hidden gem that deserves more attention than it gets.

**** 4/5

Zardoz is available on Blu-ray in the UK now from Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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