A friend wanted me to watch the movie Zardoz, then respond to the prompt “What is Zardoz?” This is what I wrote back:
Trying to describe Zardoz to someone who has never seen the movie is like trying to describe your own birth: It’s impossible.
You might be able to conjure a few brief but haunting images: giant floating heads, nipple slips, Sean Connery’s butt cleavage, guns, horny apathetic housewives, and enough mirrors to drive a Guatemalan house maid insane (you have to see the movie).
Let’s just say if Shakespeare, Nietzsche, and Terrence Malick all had an orgy and were somehow able to conceive a child, John Boorman (Director of Zardoz) would be the offspring of that unholy union. Boorman is proof that if you give a British chap unlimited control during production and Sean Connery in a man thong, they will deliver a film nearly beyond comprehension; a film that transcends logic or reason, is vaguely philosophical, but ultimately leaves you feeling the same way your first wet dream did: confused, aroused, and mildly frightened.
At the time of production, Boorman weaved a heavy tapestry of a film, but when the movie was released it sadly fell limp, as limp as Sean Connery’s penis while he watched a pair of soapy breasts on a futuristic projector (you have to see the movie).
Today, Zardoz can finally be appreciated by a small cult following made up of a Peter Pan Generation where campy humor is embraced and self-reflexivity is celebrated.
I think Boorman deserves to be knighted for directing this movie (to hell with his other 21). The ceremony should be small and intimate, but consist of Boorman’s feet being washed clean with Sean Connery’s tears, a high-five from the Pope, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (how has this failed to happen?).
What is Zardoz? It’s difficult to say. The easier question is “What isn’t Zardoz?”
The answer: subtle.