The problem with Zardoz is its overabundance of ideas. It's an allegory of the class struggle, a satire on religion, an art house psychodrama of hippie commune lifestyles - in a post-nuclear, rural idyll of crystalline intelligence and inflatable buildings, and it's also a vision of man's future at once more horrifying and complex than that of The Time Machine (1960). Shot on location in the Wicklow Mountains for a paltry $1 million, Zardoz was inspired by The Wizard Of Oz (Baum's book, not the famous Judy Garland musical movie) and, while it's amusing to consider Connery as protagonist 'Dorothy', Boorman's self-indulgent yet undeniably ingenious re-interpretation of archetypal fantasy tropes remains entertaining to this day.
Geoffrey Unsworth, the cinematographer of Kubrick's 2001 (1968), performs cut-price miracles using in-camera effects, ghost glass tricks, and rear projection techniques to create the strange world of Zardoz, without any post-production effects. Many of these visuals still look remarkable, even in our time of CG marvels, and Boorman is rightly proud of his film's many achievements. Only one sequence here drags on too long (as Boorman confesses, he'd shorten it if Zardoz was re-edited); and that's when Zed is drawn (absorbed?) into the Tabernacle AI, the cue for an hallucinatory montage of surreal images, filmed in a hall of mirrors.
Whether it's viewed as a parody of SF, or as a radical revision of genre themes, Zardoz is a memorable film that repays several viewings and it deserves to find a new generation of fans with this release on disc.
DVD extras: an intriguing and candid director's commentary (during which Boorman is delighted to point out his cameo as a farm worker, shot and killed by Connery as exterminator Zed), plus a gallery of artwork, stills and posters. Also a trailer and four radio spots, scene index in 24 chapters, 14 language subtitles.