Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 30th, 2015
BluRay released: September 14th, 2015
Approximate running times: 106 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD 3.0 English, LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £17.99 (UK)
Synopsis: In the future, the landscape of the world has drastically changed. With all of humanity being divided into two core groups, the first group are “Brutals” whose main purpose in life it’s to exterminate undesirables and the second group are “Eternals” who have achieved immortality protected by “The Vortex” as they live a life of luxury. These two worlds collide, when one of the “Brutals” discovers a way pass “The Vortex”. Will the arrival of a “Brutal” usher in a new era or will this disruption lead to their demise?
Zardoz was written and directed by John Boorman whose other notable films include, Point Blank, Deliverance and Excalibur. Key collaborators on Zardoz include cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth (2001: A Space Odyssey, Goodbye Gemini) and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A, op. 92, 2nd movement serves as the score for the film.
Zardoz was made during a time when Sci-Fi cinema was still very primitive when it came to pulling off special effects which did not call attention to themselves. And instead of giving into the limitations of what technology had to offer at the time. This film is a classic example of a film overcoming its limitations by making its limitations work within the confines of the story at hand. With that being said, looking back after all these years what was once considered a short coming has now become one of the main reasons why this film continues to fascinate audiences.
Creating a world for scratch is not an easy feat and this film proves it is up to the challenge with its rock solid narrative. The opening act does a superb job explain who everyone is and what their motivations are? And the middle further explores a few of this film’s main themes like immortality and classism. With the final act providing a pitch perfect resolution to the events which have just unfolded.
From a production stand point there are several areas where this film far exceeds expectations, most notably when it comes to its visuals. And when it comes to pacing there is never an issue as there are never any lulls along the way. Also when it comes to each new revelation this film allows each of these moments just the right amount of time to fully resonate before moving on. Another area where this film excels is its dialog, “The Penis is evil! The Penis shoots Seeds, and makes new Life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the Gun shoots Death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth, and kill! Zardoz has spoken.”
Perhaps the most unusual thing is this film that is overflowing with bizarreness is the casting of Sean Connery (The Untouchables) in the role of this film’s protagonist Zed. It is his character which has been given the task of infiltrating “The Vortex” and ultimately allowing the other “Brutals” access so they can exterminate all that live there. And once you get past his ridicules attire, you will be rewarded with a strong performance that resonates long after the film’s final revelation.
Other performances of note include Charlotte Rampling (The Night Porter) in the role of Consuella, it is her character which opposes Zed presence in “The Vortex” and in the end their fates become intertwined. And Niall Buggy in the dual role of Arthur Frayn / Zardoz, this character not only provides the majority of this film comic relief. He characters function is much like that of the wizard from The Wizard of Oz.
Zardoz comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This release has been sourced from a brand new 4k master and the end result is excellent. Colors look nicely saturated, contrast and black level are consistently solid and details look sharp throughout. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release has two audio options, a DTS-HD 3.0 mix in English and a LPCM stereo mix in English. You really can’t go wrong with either audio mix as they both sound, clear, balanced and robust when they need too. Also included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release includes, radio spots, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 9 seconds), an essay about with film titled ‘An Appreciation Ben Wheatley’ (16 minutes 24 seconds), interviews – the first interview with director John Boorman (21 minutes 59 seconds), the second interview with actress Sara Kestelman (16 minutes 54 seconds), the third interview with production designer Anthony Pratt (17 minutes 32 seconds), the fourth interview with special effects Gerry Johnston (21 minutes 18 seconds), the fifth interview with camera operator Peter MacDonald (15 minutes 28 seconds), the sixth interview with assistant director Simon Relph (13 minutes 46 seconds), the seventh interview with hair stylist Colin Jamison (8 minutes 47 seconds), the eight interview with production manager Seamus Byrne (9 minutes 30 seconds) and assistant editor Alan Jones (7 minutes 38 seconds) and an audio commentary with John Boorman.
Topics discussed in the essay with Ben Wheatley include, how he first discovered Zardoz, how the film has since become one of his favorite films and he explains in great detail why he enjoys the movie.
Topics discussed in the interview with John Boorman include, how the success of Deliverance afforded him to make a film like Zardoz, how he came up with the basic idea which eventually became Zardoz, the difficulty getting financing for the film, casting and how he was able to cast Sean Connery in the lead role, locations featured in the film, the look of the film, his thoughts on the film and its lasting legacy.
Topics discussed in the interview with Sara Kestelman include, the character she portrays in the film, costume and set design, improvising dialog and various onset memories.
Topics discussed in the interview with Anthony Pratt who discusses in depth his contributions to the film. Other topics discussed special effects, how this film is one you either love or hate, problems that arose during production and how they overcame them, cast & crew and this thoughts about the final product.
Topics discussed in the interview with Gerry Johnston include, a detailed account of the special effects that he contributed to the film. Other topics include, various projects that he has worked on.
Topics discussed in the interview with Simon Relph include, how he got involved in making Zardoz, he explains his role as the assistant directors’ and various other production related topics.
Topics discussed in the interview with Colin Jamison include, freedom to create on the set, his thoughts about the look of the film and various onset memories.
Topics discussed in the interview with Seamus Byrne include, who discusses in depth the role of production manager, locations featured in the film, his thoughts on the cast and working with John Boorman.
Topics discussed in the interview with Alan Jones include, who discuss the role in making this film and how they were able to do the aging sequence with Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling’s characters’ at the end of the film.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, why he shot the sequence which opens the films, locations featured in the film, the films score, working with cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth and the look of the film, how But Reynolds had agreed to be the lead role in the film and that due to an illness he had to be replaced by Sean Connery, the cast and working with Sean Connery and various other production related topics.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a forty page booklet with two essays, the first essay titled ‘Future Imperfect’ written by Julian Upton and the second essay titled ‘A Three Dimensional Maze of Ice and Fire: The Novelization of Zardoz’ written by Adrian Smith. Other content include excepts from author Michel Ciment’s book about John Boorman, the first excerpt is an interview with John Boorman and the second excerpt is comments from editor John Merritt and screenwriter Bill Stair. Rounding out content is the booklet is information about the transfer. Overall Zardoz gets a definitive release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.