Pub date August 11, 2009
WriterCheryl Eddy
SectionFilm FeaturesSectionFilm Review

REVIEW The Pacific Film Archive’s current series "Eccentric Cinema: Overlooked Oddities and Ecstasies, 1963-82" contains such notorious curios as Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise (1974) and Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie (1971). But maybe the oddest oddity (and most ecstatic ecstasy) of the bunch is writer-director John Boorman’s Zardoz (1974). Boorman’s Deliverance (1972) scored big; presumably, its success was the reason he was able to do whatever the fuck he wanted next. Lucky for fans of strange and wonderful cinema, he chose Zardoz — a tale "full of mystery and intrigue, rich in irony, and most satirical," according to opening-scene narrator Arthur Frayn (Niall Buggy), who first appears as a floating head with drawn-on facial hair. To summarize Zardoz would ruin some of its peculiar charm, but, briefly: it’s set in the year 2293, in a futuristic yet strangely primitive land where immortal, supremely bored "eternals" live inside protected, idyllic "vortexes." Meanwhile, the outside world is patrolled by "brutals," who prevent everyone else from reproducing and worship a floating head (ahem) that intones lessons like "The gun is good. The penis is evil!" When brutal Zed (a spectacularly loinclothed, recently post-Bond Sean Connery) busts into a Vortex (residents include Charlotte Rampling), the world becomes an even more baffling place. What more can I say? It’s Zardoz. To miss it, in the words of the film’s mysterious Tabernacle, is "not permitted."

ZARDOZ screens Thurs/13, 6:30 p.m., $5.50–$9.50, Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft, Berk; (510) 642-5249,