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Entry updated 9 July 2018. Tagged: Film.

Film (1974). John Boorman Productions/Twentieth Century Fox. Produced, directed and written by John Boorman. Cast includes John Alderton, Sean Connery, Sara Kestelman and Charlotte Rampling. 105 minutes. Colour.

A future society on the Ruined Earth is divided into two regions: the Vortex and the Outlands, separated by an impenetrable Force Field. Within the Vortex live the Eternals – Immortal, possessed of high Technology and given to a decadent aestheticism – while in the Outlands dwell the Brutals, including a group called the Exterminators whose job is to keep the population level down. They are indoctrinated and supplied with guns by the supposed god Zardoz (see Gods and Demons), manifesting as a huge flying stone head operated by the Eternals. One of these Exterminators, Zed (Connery), infiltrates first the head and then the Vortex; his presence catalyses events which destroy both the Immortals and their Computer-run society. Zed represents the primal force that brings back to the impotent, static Immortals such old favourites as Emotion, Sex, Fear and Death, releasing them from their artificial world and allowing them to become part of the Natural Scheme of Things again; that is, dead. The film is self-indulgent; its profundity is all on the surface and its oscillation between Parody and solemnity is distracting. But Boorman's presentation of old ideas as if they were just new-minted has a certain silly charm, and the film has considerable visual brio, assisted by Geoffrey Unsworth's photography and the beautiful Irish settings.

The novelization, by Boorman and Bill Stair, is Zardoz (1974). [JB/PN/DRL]

see also: Cinema; Pax Aeronautica; Post-Holocaust.


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