ZARDOZ (1974)

Described as both a brilliant visionary work and one of the silliest films ever made—sometimes in the same review—ZARDOZ was almost destined to become a cult film. The plot about a future world ruled by apathetic Eternals who live off the work of primitive Brutals has echoes of H.G. Welles and more than a few references to The Wizard of Oz (1939) Sean Connery stars as an Eliminator, a Brutal raised to enforce the Eternals’ laws. Smarter than he should be, he sneaks into the Eternals’ home, the Vortex, to learn what makes his world tick. Director John Boorman was working on an adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (1978) when he got the idea for ZARDOZ. When the studio decided the Tolkein films would be too expensive, he pitched his new idea and then worked with cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth and production designer Anthony Pratt to create his unique vision of the future. Boorman originally wanted to cast Burt Reynolds, one of his Deliverance (1972) stars, as Zed. When Reynolds had schedule conflicts, Connery jumped at the role as he was eager to find work after leaving the James Bond series. (d. John Boorman, 105m, DCP)