Zardoz Special Edition on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review


Zardoz stars Sean Connery as Zed. He understands that Zardoz says if you obey him then you’ll go to a vortex when you die and live forever. So, Zed’s dead?

This is another of those films from long ago which I’ve never seen before, but once again, I’m glad to have caught it on a remastered Blu-ray in its original widescreen aspect ratio because this will have been cropped from 2.35:1 to 4:3 in the 1980s of video, and with John Boorman at the helm, it really doesn’t lend itself to any form of shearing of the image as is testified by the 3-minute 16:9 trailer in the extras.

As for Zardoz himself, he’s a character who claims he lives forever, with an alter ego of Arthur Frayn, and played by the actor Niall Buggy, so I’m not sure who’s got the weirdest name. Either way, he has a moustache similar to Gio from the Go Compare adverts, except drawn on, but where they *do* compare is that they are both intensely annoying individuals.

The first thing you know about this film is with its mysterious freaky-looking ‘God head’ flying about, banging on about how “The gun is good. 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…”, except that when we later get to see inside the head itself, there’s no obvious way to make vocal sounds, so how it’s speaking, who can tell? And how does it fly? There’s no engines or propellors inside. Either way, it encourages everyone to kill, and spits out free guns and ammunition, so it’s basically the equivalent of ISIS.

Meanwhile, Connery walks round with his top off and rolls of ammo around his neck, a look from which he rarely departs, a kitsch ’70s get-up with a daft ‘tache, the like of which you only see these days during Movember. Somehow his character sneaks inside the head (I can’t begin to imagine how) and finds other humans in a state not yet fully formed.


Sean Connery as Zed. Zed’s dead, baby, Zed’s dead.

John Alderton, as Vortex resident Friend, camply says he likes Zed, affectionately calling him “a sly old monster”, and then tapping his chin gently, to which Connery responds by licking his hand. WTF?! Friend also later hosts what looks like an episode of Come Dine With Me but with every member of the commune invited (below, with Sean Connery on the far-left, serving everyone).

Zardoz is one of the most bizarre films I’ve ever seen. Immortality is a curse, you can simply click your fingers to make doors open, there are bread deliveries made while everyone is in a seemingly catatonic state, the latter part of that probably explaining why sleep is no longer required. There’s also a brilliant effects shot early on making it look like Connery is holding a tiny hand-held projector.

There’s so much going on in Zardoz, but with so little continuity. I’ve little idea what’s going on, but it’s largely very entertaining. If you’ve seen the Simpsons episode “Lisa’s Sax”, where Homer’s watching Twin Peaks and observing, “Brilliant! I have absolutely no idea what’s going on”, then it gives exactly the same effect. The film was also shot on location in the mountains of County Wicklow, Ireland, and as well as looking stunning, it also gave Boorman the chance to dress his set how he wanted, free of the trappings of 1970s architecture.


Come Dine With Me 2293 – coming to Channel 4 in 178 years.
(click on the image for the full-size version)

The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition, and it’s a surprisingly clean print for a 41-year-old film. There’s occasionally a bit of a haze on view at times, but nothing deal-breaking. Overall, this is a print that largely does great justice to the film.

I’m watching on my Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV with a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.

The the audio was recorded in 4-track Stereo and curiously comes as DTS HD-MA 3.0 – and I’ve never experienced 3.0 before. Quite frankly, it feels very 2.0, so like basic Dolby Surround as I didn’t notice any split-surround moments. But since the film is odd, why not have an odd-numbered soundmix?

Taken from the Collector’s booklet about the video and audio transfer:

    Zardoz is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The original camera negative was scanned and restored in 4K resolution at Deluxe, LA in 2015.

    The audio was restored at Audio Mechanics from the original DME stems. The HD master made from this new restoration was provided by 20th Century Fox via Hollywood Classics.

    Director John Boorman has approved this new restoration.


Zed teaches everyone how to grow marijuana in the future.
(click on the image for the full-size version)

The extras are as follows:

  • Interviews: Nine of them here – all new and in glorious HD, so get seated and buckle in for the memories of working on Zardoz from John Boorman (21:59) – who admits he could only make this “rather strange film” after having great success with Deliverance, plus actress Sara Kestelman – aka May (16:54), production designer Anthony Pratt (17:32), special effects creator Gerry Johnston (21:18), camera operator Peter MacDonald (15:28), assistant director Simon Relph (13:46), hair stylist Colin Jamison (8:47), production manager Seamus Byrne (9:30) and assistant editor Alan Jones (7:38).

  • Ben Wheatley on Zardoz (16:24): An appreciation of the film from the director of Sightseers, A Field In England, Kill List and the first two episodes of Doctor Who Series 8, Deep Breath and Into The Dalek, starring Peter Capaldi. Wheatley comments how there’s nothing to compare with Zardoz, and also how it has influenced him. He’s bang-on with all his observations, and he also loves anything with a giant head! 🙂

  • Trailer (3:09): In approx 16:9, and as mentioned earlier, in this cropped form, the image still suffers. Okay, so the point of this extra is to include something that was available at the time, so I’m not complaining about the cropping to the trailer (the quality of which is a little ropey), I’m just comparing ratios.

  • Radio spots (2:58): Four of them here.

  • Audio commentary: with director John Boorman.

  • Reversible Sleeve: featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin.

  • Collector’s Booklet: A 42-page booklet with two new articles Future Imperfect (Julian Upton) and A Three-Dimensional Maze of Ice and Fire: The Novelisation of Zardoz (Adrian Smith), plus two articles from 1985 – Recollections by John Merritt and Bill Stair, and an interview with John Boorman from Michel Ciment, all illustrated with original archive stills.

Subtitles are in English, and as you put the disc in, clips from the film are mixed in with a haunting choral rendition of the theme, Beethoven's 7th Symphony 2nd movement , which was also used in the final scenes of the Nicolas Cage movie Knowing, so a fantastic piece of classical music, but not one that inspires positive outcomes.

Zardoz is released on Monday September 21st on Blu-ray/DVD Double Pack Limited Edition and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.


The ‘God head’. You won’t sleep for a week after clapping eyes on that freaky thing!
(click on the image for the full-size version)


Detailed specs:
Running time: 89 minutes
Year: 1984
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: September 21st 2015
Chapters: 12 FCD1147
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50

Director: John Boorman
Producer: John Boorman
Screenplay: John Boorman
Music: David Munrow

Zed: Sean Connery
Consuella: Charlotte Rampling
May: Sara Kestelman
Friend: John Alderton
Avalow: Sally Anne Newton
Arthur Frayn/Zardoz: Niall Buggy
George Saden: Bosco Hogan
Apathetic: Jessica Swift
Star: Bairbre Dowling
Old Scientist: Christopher Casson
Death: Reginald Jarman (voice)
Young Eternal (flashback scene): Daisy Boorman (uncredited)
Farming Brutal Shot by Zed/Zardoz Mask & Head Model: John Boorman (uncredited)
Young Eternal (flashback scene): Katrine Boorman (uncredited)
Young Eternal (flashback scene): Telsche Boorman (uncredited)
Tabernacle: David de Keyser (voice) (uncredited)