follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

20th Century Fox presents
Zardoz (1974)

"Would you like to see immortality at work?"
- Friend (John Alderton)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: January 14, 2001

Stars: Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman, John Alderton, Niall Buggy
Other Stars: Sally Anne Newton, Bosco Hogan, Jessica Swift, Bairbre Dowling, Christopher Casson, Reginald Jarman
Director: John Boorman

Manufacturer: CMCA
MPAA Rating: R for (Nudity, violence, adult content)
Run Time: 01h:45m:56s
Release Date: March 27, 2001
UPC: 024543013051
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

My personal interest in John Boorman's Zardoz began twenty some years ago, when as a young teenager, I discovered the film on late night television. It started as a novelty: Sean Connery, a flying stone head, and lots of half-dressed women, what's not to like? Over the years, the novelty turned into an admiration for just what Boorman had created—aside from the elements that appeal to a teenage boy was a thoughtful and carefully executed work that became more interesting over time, and as I matured, my appreciation of the visual esthetic, precise dialogue, complex characters and the movie's uniqueness placed it among those I cherish the most.

With an extremely modest budget, Zardoz creates the world of 2293, a time after a great collapse in human history, in which the rich and powerful have discovered the secret of immortality, and cut themselves off from the rest of the world. The images in the film are strikingly beautiful at times, while horrific at others, and the choice of imaginative costuming belies the communal influence of the early 1970s. The pacing is deliberate, and Boorman's all inclusive look at the world of immortality leaves few stones unturned. The panacea of an eternal life is grounded as the film unfolds, and we begin to understand the implications of such an existence.

"Let's keep it!"

With these words life within the Vortex will never be the same. Zed (Sean Connery), an Exterminator from the outlands has penetrated the secret serenity of the world of Eternals, a group of immortal intellectuals living behind a force field separating them from the rest of humanity. His role in the outside world was one of hunter and killer, cutting down the human plague which ran rampant in the outlands. His God, Zardoz gave him this decree, and he obeyed, promised eternal life in the Vortex when his end came, but he has arrived prematurely, and now the its citizens have their own plans for him. Their head scientist, May (Sara Kestleman), wants to keep him for scientific study, since a mortal being hasn't been in their midst in 300 years. Consuela (Charlotte Rampling), another leading figure in the community, fears his presence will disrupt their carefully balanced world and corrupt and pollute their society. Like many of the Vortex inhabitants who enjoy Zed's memories of the outside world, Friend (John Alderton) sees the brutal as a source of amusement, but he also wants to know why his friend Arthur Frayn (Niall Buggy), the man responsible for controlling the outlands as Zardoz, has mysteriously vanished. As the Eternals and brutal uncover the truths about each other, their own hidden agendas and motives begin to surface. What has happened to bring this creature from the outside into the world of the immortals, and what does it mean for their future?

When released in 1974 John Boorman's Zardoz caused quite a stir in the science fiction community, gaining heady praise from the hard sci-fi magazines and being lauded with accolades including consideration as a new science fiction classic. As his follow-up to his Academy Award®-nominated Deliverance (Best Picture, Best Director - 1973), Boorman wrote, produced and directed his only foray into the world of science fiction, with the original intent of casting Burt Reynolds (who played Lewis Medlock in Deliverance) in the lead spot. Instead, Sean Connery, fresh off his series of James Bond films, stepped in to play Zed, the barbarian who would enter the world of the Gods in search of answers. For crew, Boorman chose expert lensman Geoffrey Unsworth, veteran of A Night To Remember (1958) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), to capture the atmosphere created by set designer Anthony Pratt, who has worked alongside Boorman on Excalibur, Hope And Glory and Beyond Rangoon.

For those familiar with the director's work, Zardoz is a complete immersion into his thoughts and ideas, as Boorman utilises not only his favorite music and literature in the film, but also the talents of his entire family, including his wife Christel (costumes) and cameos by Boorman himself, and his children Katrine (who would play Igrayne in his later Excalibur) and Charley (Tomme in Boorman's The Emerald Forest). The film was also shot literally in Boorman's backyard in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland. Zardoz is certainly not a film for everyone, and its reaction from audiences is polarized. It relies more on ideas than action, and may require more than one viewing to fully appreciate. For those whom its uniqueness resonates, repeated viewings only increase its enjoyment, and for those of us who have known it for years, this disc comes as a real gem in the collection.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Twentieth Century Fox presents Zardoz in a newly remastered anamorphic widescreen transfer, which for the first time on home video delivers the correct aspect ratio and framing of the film's 2.35:1 image. Also noteable is the absence of the annoying splice and glue marks which have plagued past widescreen transfers. Although the source elements are not perfect, the film is remarkably clean, with any defects in the source limited to individual shots within the film. Color saturation is gorgeous, and detail is far more apparent than any previous release due to the much crisper image, with no signs of edge enhancement. Geoffrey Unsworth's spectacular photography is beautifully rendered, with very fine grain well preserved. Only the very few blemishes present keep this from top marks.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Zardoz is deliver in a 3.0 sound mix. While perhaps not as dynamic or full range as modern soundtracks, it is still extremely well preserved, with sonic detail nicely presented, and decent directionality. I found myself noticing subtle cues I had previously missed on past releases. The disc also contains a mono French track, which is a sharp contrast to the English version. Audio is extremely compressed and sibilants are overpronouced, however, since most Zardoz fans will have never seen the movie in French, the disc does offer an interesting alternative.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Alien Nation, Aliens, Enemy Mine, Independence Day, The Abyss
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director John Boorman
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Stills galleries
  2. Radio spots
Extras Review: For fans of the film, a major coup has been scored with the inclusion of a feature-length commentary by director, John Boorman. Although he occasionaly leaves gaps in his comments during which the film's soundtrack is brought up, there is a wealth of interesting and informative background on the making of the film and its cast. A decent balance between technical information, production background, and comments about the cast make this especially enjoyable for long time fans. I would warn that Boorman exposes some pretty major spoilers early on, so those who haven't seen the film yet should reserve the commentary until after their first viewing.

Fox has also included a photo gallery section broken into three categories. The production photos section contains several conceptual drawings, some production stills and a rare behind-the-scenes shots. The lobby cards and promotional photos section serves up a number of images from the film's foreign campaign, and also includes the film's theatrical one sheet art. The one sheets and press book gallery feature advertising from the original pressbook. While the nimber of photos included in these three sections isn't vast, they do cover a wide range of material that previously would only be found in the hands of the hardcore collector.

We also get the film's complete radio campaign, which surprisingly features The Twilight Zone's Rod Serling as announcer. The six spots range from 10 to 60 seconds.

The film's theatrical trailer is also available for the first time on home video, and if you thought the film was strange, you haven't seen anything! I would advise staying away from the pharmeceuticals before watching this two-minute trip, presented in anamorphic 1.85:1.

A collection of trailers for five other Fox releases is also included. 1.33:1 trailers for Alien Nation, Aliens, Enemy Mine, Independence Day and The Abyss are also present.

Since this review is based on a check disc, I can't comment on the final packaging.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

What price, immortality? With its stunning photography, imaginative sets and costuming, and thought provoking theme, John Boorman's Zardoz is a treasure for true science fiction fans. Though certainly not to everyone's taste, it can finally be judged on its true merit, in the correct aspect ratio and with a host of supplemental features. Fox has handled the film with style, and given those of us who appreciate it more than many could ever have dreamed possible. Zardoz has spoken.


Back to top

Microsoft Store

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store