Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sean Connery’s Brave New World, or Thoughts on Zardoz

The time has come to explain Sean Connery’s goofiest role, (that is until he portrayed Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez 12 years later in Highlander) in Zardoz (1974), a movie that is more remembered for his outfit; thigh-high boots, red loincloth and crossed bullet bandoliers.  The look is highlighted by his hairy chest and unapologetically masculine screen presence.  He has an athletic but natural physique that looks soft by contemporary standards, but while there’s no way you can imagine Sean Connery ever waxing his chest or doing ab crunches, I’m certain audiences also had absolute confidence in his abilities to throw a punch and charm the ladies.  As for the outfit, it’s a literal translation of a comic book aesthetic on a regular body, straight out of a Heavy Metal cover and reminiscent of He-Man.
Sean Connery is not Zardoz, he is Zed, a warrior/priest for Zardoz; a giant floating stone head that spits weapons in post apocalyptic 2293 Earth (and that’s not the weirdest thing in a very weird movie).  The film may have been released in 1974, but it has a 60’s feel both in visual style and philosophical tone.  Zed is a member of the Brutals, who live in the Wasteland and supply grain for the more advanced Eternals, who live in the Vortex.  The movie takes a turn towards Huxley (see title) as the barbarian Zed invades the idyllic Vortex, where he is studied and enslaved for the Immortals' amusement.  But Charlotte Rampling is also there as Consuela, so it’s not all bad.
Written and directed by John Boorman of Deliverance (19xx) and who would go on to direct Excalibur  (1981). Equal parts Planet of The Apes (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Tommy (1975) and with a dash of Woody Allen’s Sleeper (1973), Zardoz is a surreal, hallucinatory experience and offers a uniquely British version of a dystopian future.  That is, if you can get past the loincloth.  And did I mention Sean’s ponytail and Freddie Mercury-esque mustache?  Because there’s that. 

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