The Badass Sean Connery In Zardoz, The Most Insane Must-See Cult Classic
“John Boorman’s Zardoz is a genuinely quirky movie, a trip into a future that seems ruled by perpetually stoned set decorators.” It’s set in a post-apocalyptic Ireland. And to go there is either a guilty pleasure or a mistake. As Mark Kermode puts it, “the man who made Deliverance – one of the outstanding works of seventies cinema – followed it up with the worst science-fiction movie ever made… As falls from grace go, that is surely one of the most spectacular.”
Connery wasn’t much in demand at the time. So James Bond did away with the fussy cocktails, priapic cars and other adolescent seduction techniques honed in sticky carpeted casinos, strapped on a red leather posing pouch buckled to matching bandoliers with ample room for a few dozen vials of amyl nitrate and found like-minded people in an out-of-town S&M fetish club under the auspices of a perverted flying god-rock.
Real laugh riot, this. Boorman got Sean Connery to work very cheaply; the actor was having a hard time finding post-James Bond roles. For better or worse, this certainly wasn’t a James Bond-ish role and it allowed Connery to vary his resume a bit. That we had to see him saunter around in a red diaper, thigh-highs, and a Gimli hairdo for him to do it is just our good fortune.
The plot you can read about on Wikipedia. Esteemed film critic Roger Ebert surmises: “Every once in a while, a movie like that comes along; a movie you’ve got to see so that you, too, can be in the dark about it. In the movie’s own terms, this much can be said for sure: It may not make you an Apathetic [one of the film’s social classes], but it will certainly age you by two hours.”
Decades later, Channel 4 called it “Boorman’s finest film” and a “wonderfully eccentric and visually exciting sci-fi quest” that “deserves reappraisal”. Despite being a commercial failure and mostly panned by critics, Zardoz has since developed a cult following. The film presently has a score of 48% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 29 reviews, with an average grade of 5.2 out of 10