Zardoz: The Movie that Screams “Remake Me!”
Updated: May 27, 2022
John Boorman’s Zardoz (1974) stars Sean Connery as Zed, an intergalactic chosen one destined to end oppression, unite his people, and look really damn weird doing it. But come on, it’s Sean Connery. Who would’ve had the balls to tell him? He’s a SIR. But I digress...
Set in the far future, the main plot centers around the divide of humanity into two factions: The Eternals, living in luxury and free of fear or danger, and the Brutals, moral humans more content to survive and descend into barbarian behavior such as violence against one another. Through the use of enforcers and a massive stone head, The Eternals control their world via proxy. This is Zardoz, an artificial deity meant to rule over the Brutals. It’s a heady concept with an execution on par with some of the more kooky outputs of the pre Star Wars science fiction era. It’s honestly a weird movie to think back on. It’s slow at times but I was always interested in at least something in frame, if not the story itself. I don’t think Connery’s ever necessarily bad, but I do sort of get the feeling of running through the motions. Again, when you’re as talented and likable on screen as Sir Sean, going through the motions is levels ahead of the competition.
It’s chock full of a ton of themes, classism being chief amongst them. While it touches on genetic interference and the distance between humanity and logic/technologically dependent societies, it doesn’t feel like all of them get the room to breathe.
It seems to really want to be Dune. Don’t we all? That’s the Frank Herbert Dune, specifically. Herbert often described his novel as one that you could read while paying attention to each specific theme and it would work as the main theme. It works as just a tale about classism, or environmentalism, or indigenous peoples’ rights, or government oversight and corruption, or...need I go on? I can’t help but get a similar vibe from Zardoz, but I just don’t think it brought them all together to stick the landing.
Now here’s the thing people are going to hate me saying: I can’t wait for this to get remade. There’s a lot of foundation here that a creative and unique storyteller could really play with and adapt. Not a straight remake perhaps, but the framework is here. Sexism and classism aren’t exactly a thing of the past, and technological dependence is more rampant than it ever was. I think a strong filmmaker with fresh ideas for how to tell a similar story with these themes that are so strung throughout Zardoz could make something really unique and special.
My suggestions? Yorgos Lanthrimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster, The Favourite), Robert Eggers (The VVitch, The Lighthouse) or Cathy Yan (Birds of Prey: And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). I can see Lanthrimos tackling a society that is so fed up with living forever that they don’t fear death, routinely assembling new bodies and becoming bored with life. They’re not even getting any up there in paradise! What’s the point of making babies if you’re going to live forever anyway? Seems up his alley. I could see Eggers thriving in looking at the subjugation of the Brutals, and the psychological ways the upper class uses false idols to oppress and belittle it’s ‘lesser’ neighbors. And I mean, come on, Cathay Yan’s action
sensibilities, ability to direct wacky imagery in a dialed in, consumable manner as well as her previous work focusing on feminist themes and gender roles would make her an excellent fit as well.
It’s not that this was bad. I’m not going to be firing it up anytime soon, but it’s not bad. But my first thought after it was done was “Wow a remake of this would make a CRAZY movie” and I choose to believe that holds a lot of merit.