Uncovering Curiosities: John Boorman’s ZARDOZ

John Boorman’s Zardoz can be blamed for being a lot of things, but predictable isn’t one of them. This 1974 starrer for Sean Connery bucks convention on all levels and Boorman delivers one of the oddest science fiction movies ever to star an A-list actor.

Set in the year 2293, Zardoz follows Connery’s Zed, a mortal human who enters the ‘vortex’ where he is discovered by ‘eternals’ – developed humans with eternal life. Zed becomes a novelty for the eternals but he soon throws their existence into chaos. If that sounds like a straight forward plot-line, don’t worry – because nothing in Zardoz is straight forward.

Coming off the huge hit that was Deliverance, John Boorman used his commercial and creative clout to get Zardoz off the ground. He snagged Connery as the star, scored a $1 million budget from 20th Century Fox, went to Ireland to shoot the movie and the rest is red-nappied history. It’s easy to imagine that 20th Century Fox was hoping to replicate the success of 1968’s The Planet Of The Apes – after all, both films feature loin-clothed hulking stars infiltrating a curious future society. However, the Charlton Heston movie followed Hollywood convention, while Boorman’s film throws convention out the window.

If Connery wanted to throw down the shackles of James Bond, then he did it with this sci-fi drama. He clearly had faith in Boorman’s strong vision, however he might just have been the only one who understands what that vision might have been. Boorman uses The Wizard of Oz as a stepping-off point but I wouldn’t go into this expecting a remake of the MGM classic.This is cinematic psychedelia at its oddest.