Aug 1, 2016
Zardoz (1974) (part 5 of 15)
Cut to a little later in the statuary. We see a picture frame, and projected inside the frame is a series of images of progressively newer Ford automobiles, starting with Model-Ts and working forward. Idle yells at his mood ring for only showing him cars from one manufacturer.
Meanwhile, Z is moving around paintings, one of which is a Van Gogh self portrait. Suddenly, Z sticks his finger through one of the eyes in the painting [!!]. And, we have one million… two hundred dollars… three dollars and fifty cents. Going, going, gone!
Idle’s ring comments that going cross-manufacturer on the cars could be a “much more complex program” and asks if it should “seek Vortex consent”. For no apparent reason, Idle screams “YES!!!!!!” at the top of his lungs. GOOOOOOOOOL!!!
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The ring says this will take time and Idle cheekily says he’s got lots of time. He looks at Z-Dawg and starts musing on the amount of time he has left. He asks the ring to define “three weeks”. The ring says this is “twenty-one days, five hundred and four hours. Thirty thousand, two hundred and forty minutes.” Or your next pizza’s free. Z-Dawg, meanwhile, is carrying a clock, and when its chimes go off, he totally freaks out.
Cut to a dining room, and all the hippies file in. Idle laughs at how Z had never seen a clock before, though you’d think this would pretty much be a given. They all sit down around a big glass table and make weird wind chime noises as they sit down [?]. Good God, that’s annoying. If this is the future, it must really suck.
May doesn’t sit, however, and just continues walking out the back, bringing Z along with her. One woman quips, “She’s taking her studies very seriously!” Consuella turns and quietly asks her ring how Z-Dawg got into the Vortex, and the ring says, “No conclusion. Insufficient data received.” Which is probably exactly what audiences said as they filed out of the theater.
Next, we find May and Zed approaching the man-high pyramid. It turns out to be a mirrored pyramid, and they approach so that they’re each reflected on one face of the pyramid. Arty! May tells him to “Go in,” and Z actually steps behind the pyramid and slowly extends his arms, doing a stupid mime-show approximation of falling.
He’s slowly lowered down into a room full of mirrors. Up above, we see May walk away from the pyramid. Then we cut to down inside, and she’s now down in there. What the hell?
Back in the dining room, the hippies pass around some bread, and every time somebody moves, a little bell chimes. One of the guys, by the way, looks exactly like Carrot Top. He’s much funnier with the props, believe me. Anyway, Carrot Top kisses [!] the bread, another guy breaks the bread, and we see it’s green inside. I have some bread like that in my cabinets, but you definitely don’t want to go kissing it. Anyway, with this accomplished, the hippies all chow down.
Cut to Z lying down inside the mirrored room, and he’s on yet another massage table, and there’s yet another viewscreen in the background. May is lowering her ring towards his face, and I guess the ring has a camera inside it, because we see Z’s eyes projected on the viewscreen.
To a “heartbeat” noise, the ring starts talking about how there are “no retinal abnormalities” and “disc and retinal vessels normal, blah blah blah.” Okay, maybe it didn’t really say “blah blah blah,” but that’s how I heard it. We cross-fade from Z’s eyes to a shot of optic nerves and stuff, which is obviously stock footage filmed through a microscope. Um, right.
Suddenly, May’s ring interrupts, saying it’s now time for the “continuation of the trial of George Saden of Vortex Four.” A blue Chef Hat appears on the viewscreen, so I guess they get Court TV down here. It seems George has been accused of “transmitting a negative aura in Second Level.” Geez, when did Shirley McClaine turn into such a Nazi?
George Saden denies the charges, saying he’s studied the Eternals’ society for “140 years” and these thoughts are simply “constructive criticisms.” Uh, yeah. And so are the movie reviews on this website.
He refers to these thoughts as “pyramidical”. Wow! A motif! I didn’t think we would get one of those! George pronounces himself to be “innocent of psychic violence.” Okay, that’s a pretty weak defense, George. Didn’t you learn anything from the Dream Team? If you want to get yourself off, you’ve got to come up with something that rhymes. Like, “If you enjoy the silence, I did not commit the psychic violence!”
Of course, I’m not really sure if George is just talking to May here, or if all the hippies are watching on pay-per-view. If he’s only talking to May, he’s got to be wondering why his judge is giving a massage in the middle of his trial. Regardless, George tells her/them to examine his “face and eyes” and she/they’ll see that he’s telling the truth. May says to no one in particular that George is lying.
Cut to a big stone wheel rolling around in a mill. Chef Hats carry around loaves of bread, and others slave over dough. Since this is the future, it’s green dough. Wow! And it’s not even St. Patrick’s Day! Z-Dawg comes in and has a look around and… oh, shit! It’s a Nut-O-Fun! No, seriously! It’s really a Nut-O-Fun!
Basically, there’s a big thing on the wall that’s octagonally shaped, and it’s got holes in it where people are pulling out loaves of bread. Considering John Boorman also directed Exorcist II, which contained the appearance of the original Nut-O-Fun, I find it hard to believe this is just coincidence.
Anyway, Zed picks up a tray of bread, while a buxom woman kneading green dough touches him. He ignores her and continues out, just as Idle McCartney wanders in.
They see Idle McCartney and they all happily call out, “Friend!” Which, we finally learn, is his name. Yeah, “Friend”. I’m not even going to bother trying to figure that one out.
Friend smiles at all the people working and starts to speak in reverse [!], just like that midget on Twin Peaks. He speaks this way for a while as the Chef Hats watch him intently. When he’s done, they all happily applaud, and Friend gives an odd gesture that I’m pretty sure would be considered obscene in Italy.
Friend walks out and gives a really limp high-five to another Eternal. I swear, it’s the most homoerotic high-five ever. Okay, okay. Now the “Friend” thing makes sense. A friend of Dorothy, maybe. Now, if I hear “Dueling Banjos”, I’m out of here.
Friend goes over to Z-Dawg, who’s loading bread into an oxcart. Friend says, “You looking for the head, monster?” Holy shit. You do not want to know what I thought he just said.
Friend says the Big Stone Head is gone, “off on its endless journey from Vortex to Vortex!” Z lifts up the oxcart, and Friend rides on top of it like it’s a rickshaw. Suddenly, they hear noises. They turn around to find two Chef Hats circling each other like retards, bobbing their heads back and forth like turkeys and moaning at each other.
The other Chef Hats run to pull them apart, and Z wants to know if the guy will be punished. “Of course,” Friend says as they shove off.
Z-Dawg wonders how this could be, considering they have “no Exterminators”. Friend replies that it’s going to be talked to death, “every little sin and misdemeanor, raked over and over!” So, sort of like 24-hour news channels?
Friend says he’ll get “six months”, and Z asks if he means prison, but it really means he’ll get six months of “aging”. Which is pretty much the same as what you get while watching this movie.
Friend says that every time you do something wrong, they age you a little bit more, and it all adds up. However, “they don’t let you die!” Z-Dawg asks what’s stopping him from committing suicide. Friend says he has offed himself several times, but “the Eternal Tabernacle simply rebuilds me!” Tabernacle? Just off the top of my head, I’m guessing that this is the place with the massage table and the viewscreen.
Friend asks Z-Dawg if he wants to see “immortality at work”, then commands him to head over to a complex with a gaudy façade. Friend says this is where the “Renegades” live since being “condemned to an eternity of senility!”
Apparently, the Renegades are the people who get aged and aged, but can never die. Behind a big picture window, there’s lots of old people in formal attire who eagerly wave and call out to the approaching duo.
Friend calls them “malicious and vicious! So in and out fast!” They’re delicious, and nutritious. Z-Dawg pulls the oxcart inside for, literally, three seconds, then gets swamped by old people and immediately hauls ass out of there. I feel the same way when I go to family reunions, so I empathize.
As they ride off, we see an old guy get pretty happy because he swiped a piece of bread off the cart. Meanwhile, right near the door, an old guy and gal fence with wooden dowels [!]. Hey, careful there. I mean, you could put an eye out with those things!