Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The special Z diet( or Zardoz continued )

If Sean Connery was trapped inside your computer he might look like this:

Is 'unintentionally hilarious' any less enjoyable for it's intentions?

Put another way, if a tree falls in the forest with a histrionic heartfelt swoon and all the other trees double up with laughter ( and shake until their nests fall out and the forest floor is just a slimy carpet of broken egg-shells yolk and feathers ) does that mean it's not funny?

The tree that fell mightn't find it funny ( and the poor lickle birdies definitely might have a hard time seeing the joke) but to a 'slap-stick' minded tree it could represent a perfect pratfall, and why shouldn't a tree laugh anyway when he's in the forest and nobody can hear him?

If I'm not making sense, I shant apologise, for as John Boorman demonstrates with Zardoz; making sense isn't everything.

If you have never seen the 1974 film Zardoz then I implore you to leave this page at once,- that's right, click away right this minute, because you're not wanted here, at least not yet, anyway. ( and what's wrong with you?... Hhmpf!).

If you have seen it, but you haven't read the intro to this topic, then please go here.

If you have seen it,
and you've read the intro,
and you've eaten all your greens
and you done got your chores done
and you've said your prayers and did the washing up,
and are now sitting quite comfortably...

then I shall resume:

We were just on the Wicklow hills where a bunch of lads in bullet-belt mankinis are worshipping their God, a giant stone head that vomits guns and tells them that the gun is good and penis is bad , m'kay?.

What's next?

I was going to do a blow-by-glorious-blow account of Zardoz, but honestly.- we'd be here forever and there's really no point in getting into it. I'll say just that the intro is great and culminates with Sean shooting the audience/cameraman in a very unlike James Bond stylee, and that after that, the whole experience is like sitting in a roller coaster made of 'WTF'.

Sean is called 'Zed'. He hides in the giant stone head and shoots the pilot. Then he lands in a commune of half-naked but essentially sexless immortals who seem scared and fascinated by him in equal measure. Like a real commune, they make their own food ( like green bread ), share the washing up, and some of them have become semi-comatose from the boredom that comes from living in forced harmony. The bored ones are called 'apathetics'.

Truly unforgettable( no matter how hard you try) scenes include: The sterile, and almost sexless 'immortals' showing our Sean some mud-wrestling soft porn so that they can study his erection...

Sean demonstrating his superior strength by punching his way out of a polythene bag ( and terrifying all with this ability...)

Sean entering the 'Vortex' by doing a mimed 'walk-down-the-stairs' behind a mirror..
( this bit is what we used to call in the days of VHS, "a re-winder")

The scene where one of the 'apathetics' takes a bead of Sean's sweat, and spreads it all around, via kissing, thereby providing a bit of his manliness to all: this scene is bizarre to begin with, but it starts to really become wonderful when the taste of Seanie-sweat is passed around the group in the style of a half-arsed drama-workshop.
Best of all is Sean's particularly believable, and appropriate, reaction to this display: one of horror and disgust.

A "rewinder" if ever there was one.

Zardoz is full of these rewindable moments, but I personally don't view Zardoz as a straightforward 'so-bad-it's-good' number, for I think that it is ultimately a successful creation.

It has been pointed out {on the waterworld post },- commercial 'box-office' success is no indicator of artistic success.

Which is of course true, but what else is there?

Well there's 'critical success'
Then again even critical success can be negated by those who subscribe to the view that a professional critics response is warped, skewed and coloured by cold analysis and the disproportionate amount of films that a critic watches in comparison to the ordinary fillum-watcher.

That leaves us with what? 'Rotten Tomatoes' collated scores / 'Top Ten lists' ...but fillums aint sports: in the world of sports, 'statistics' refer to something more or less absolute ( and certainly tangible ) but the making of fillums is an art form, or at least it can be an art form; ( a collaborative one, an expensive one and one usually requiring some sort of commercial engine behind but,- an art form nonetheless, ) so basically, any comment is always going to be subjective...

and "fair enough" I say.

All this meandering waffle is my way of introducing the following statement with a straight face: I reckon 'Zardoz' is a work of Art. I think it's quite perfect and could not be improved upon. There I said it. With a straight face.

It is not a good film, nor is it an Ed-Wood-level bad film, it is not especially skillfully told story,( in fact it's utterly bewildering in places and very clumsily paced, ) and yet I believe that absolutely everyone should see it. In fact, were I made Emperor in the morning I should make at least one viewing of Zardoz compulsory per lifetime. I say again, with a straight face,
ZARDOZ is a work of Art.

What I cannot do, with a straight face, is watch it mind you.

What I'm trying to say is that, in terms of success, 'Zardoz' has a special success all of its own.

The 'story' encompasses big themes about what it is to be human. There are some stunning visuals and there's plenty to think about afterwards. Yes it is pretentious, gloriously, refreshingly, nakedly pretentious. And on a magic carpet of pretention, it takes us on a acid trip to psychic-crystal-'right on' utopia before deposits us back safely in a nuclear family.

And loads of hippies get shot.

My point being perhaps that whether you agree with the point made by Zardoz or not,- or whether you can take that point seriously or not, you cannot deny that Zardoz belongs especially to its own time in history: occuring as it did at a specific point in time when intelligent people actually did crap on about 'the age of Aquarius' and gender being just like a construct... man.

Zardoz was a type of big(-ish) budget film that had never been made before and would never be made after. It revels in its trippy-dippy sixties bullshite origins: ( it positively drowns in them ) and yet it attacks them at the same time. I am so glad that it was made and repeat watchings have, for me, proved increasingly enjoyable.

All hail Zardoz.

He special.

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