Zardoz (1974) (part 6 of 15)
Z-Dawg hauls the cart past another cottage, and we several Chef Hat guys standing around, staring off into space. Friend tosses bread at them, then points to a girl and says, “I loved this girl once, monster!” And look what it did to her! He continues to hurl loaves of rock hard bread at motionless Chef Hats, calling them things like “idle Apathetic!” and a “melancholy sight!”
They ride into a building and find more people practicing to be mannequins, and Friend tosses more bread at them. He then gets a ring on his phone, or a phone on his ring, so he commands Z-Dawg to stop. The ring tells him it’s time for a verdict in the trial of George Saden, the guy who was harshing everybody’s mellow down in Second Level.
Friend points his ring into the thin air and projects the guy’s face on a pane of glass. Okay, okay, the glass is not really supposed to be there. It’s supposed to be projected into thin air, but between you and me, I don’t think this really works outside of Scooby Doo cartoons.
George’s floating head confesses to the crime, asking for mercy because he tried to control his evil thoughts, but they “leak out in Second Level, through the head wound of my third death.” He then cops to being “imperfectly repaired” as Friend “artistically” turns his wrist to project George’s face on his forehead. Uh, why would Friend do this? He can’t even see George now.
George eventually realizes he can’t pull off this weak excuse, so he simply says, “I think what I think!” And I am, whatever you say I am! Friend gives a shout out to him, exclaiming that it’s more power to him. Z-Dawg then wanders off, circling a stationary Chef Hat girl in a blue and purple hippie costume.
Meanwhile, George spits, “I hate you all! Especially me!” Which is not terribly grammatical for a 300-year old being. The ring calls for a vote and Friend looks ecstatic. He says, “Absolute acquittal!” making me wonder if Friend was on the first O.J. jury.
Friend confesses to Z that his vote won’t do any good, but Z is wrapped up in staring at the blue and purple girl. He finds her to be completely catatonic and unresponsive, so he reaches inside her shirt and grabs her boob [!]. And tell me that most men in this situation wouldn’t do the same thing. Brutal, my ass.
The girl, of course, does absolutely nothing, while the actress who got fondled by Sean Connery ended up with a nice little story to tell her friends and family. Friend tells Z to “help yourself!” So Z picks the girl up and carries her limp form over to a bed of hay. He starts trying to lay the mack on her, but she just lies there, unfortunately reminding me way too much of one or two ex-girlfriends.
Friend asks Z-Dawg if Zardoz ever told him about “the Apathetics”. Friend calls it “a disease” that’s “slowly creeping through all the Vortexes.” To illustrate, he grabs a woman’s arm and lifts it up. She just keeps it there, staring blankly ahead. Ooh! Ooh! Mistah Kottah! Ooh! Ooh!
Friend explains that’s why Zardoz had Z-Dawg’s crew grow crops, “to feed these people!” As he talks, he wanders through the crowd of Apathetics, grabbing their arms, pushing their heads down, and stuffing bread in their mouths, and of course they all remain catatonic. I have a feeling they all just sat through a showing of Myra Breckinridge.
Friend tells Z, “Apathetic or Renegade! Make your choice!” Well, the Renegades are old and shriveled, so obviously Z prefers the Apathetics. He tries to mack the girl in blue again, but she still doesn’t respond. This inspires Zed to growl and fling her through the air [!!] like a rag doll.
Then he goes on a rampage, picking up a big barrel (Awesome keg party, dudes!) and smashing it against the wall. Then he overturns the oxcart, sending bread flying everywhere. The Apathetics start to react a little bit, probably just like the audience members who were just woken up by the noise. Even the blue and purple girl lifts her head to look at him.
Friend applauds Z-Dawg, then gets the results of the vote on George Saden from his ring: “For: 9, Against: 586, Undecided, 86.” If this were Florida, Friend could still ask for a recount. The ring says George will be aged five years, and Friend tells Z-Dawg, “Welcome to Paradise!” Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty!
Now, get ready, because the movie is about to grind to a halt so we can explore John Boorman’s adolescent sexual fantasies. We’re back in the orange tent, and projected on the viewscreen is a medieval Japanese drawing of a man and woman in coitus. Connie walks past the screen as the image shifts to a fertility idol.
She says, “Penic erection was one of the many unsolved evolutionary mysteries surrounding sexuality!” Penic? Is that really a word? I don’t think so. Even the subtitles say “penile”, so there.
As she speaks, we see a slideshow of erotic images on the viewscreen. She says cultures all throughout history each had an “elaborate subculture devoted to erotic stimulation.” Since this movie was made in the 70’s, the slideshow obviously ends with an image of a woman about to head off to Studio 54.
Connie says, “But nobody could quite determine how this…” And on this line, a drawing of a flaccid penis appears onscreen [!!], and she points at it with a stick [!!]. She concludes, “…becomes this!”, as the drawing becomes animated and quickly displays the different stages of achieving erection. Oh, man. This is like the worst sex-ed class ever.
She says they understand the physical processes involved, but not “the link between stimulus and response!” So, in other words, in 300 years no one will be able to get a boner. Quite a sweeping vision of the future you have there, Mr. Boorman. I mean, not even Viagra works anymore?
“Sexuality declined,” she explains, because “we no longer needed to procreate.” Uh, yeah. Hate to break it to you, ma’am, but the vast majority of people today don’t “need” to procreate either. She says, “Eternals soon discovered that erection was impossible to achieve!” How did they “discover” this? I mean, who was the first schmuck who actually owned up to not being able to get a stiffie?
Connie happily says that society is no longer subjected to this “violent, convulsive act, which so debased women and betrayed men!” Wow. Don’t hold back, Mr. Boorman. Tell us how you really feel about feminists. Meanwhile, we see May and Friend and all other hippies listening with rapt attention.
Connie points to Z-Dawg standing there, saying that he’s “capable of spontaneous and reflexive erection!” And that’s not all he’s capable of, baby. As part of May’s studies, Connie says they want to finally get to the bottom of this whole hard-on business.
Of course, up until now, Connie’s been vehemently against all the experiments with Z-Dawg, and now she’s leading them? Why? Let me guess. Because somebody (namely, John Boorman’s penis) thought it would be fun to have Charlotte Rampling talking about erections.
Anyway, she says that “this experiment will measure autoerotic stimulation of the cortex, leading to erection!” Then she tells her ring to “play”, and up on the viewscreen, behind a random laser light zigzagging across the screen, we see a close-up of a woman’s soapy boobs [!!!] as she fondles herself. Oh my God, tell me this was meant as a joke.
Connie, obviously hoping for some kind of reaction, is miffed when Z-Dawg just looks bored. “The tracer indicates this image is not erotically stimulating to the Brutal.” It’s not doing much for me either, to tell you the truth. Of course, this doesn’t stop Boorman from cutting in footage of the soapy boobs for another half a minute [!].
Connie tells her ring to “Change”, and suddenly we get an image of two naked females wrestling in mud [!!]. Friend and May both step forward, and Friend exclaims, “This doesn’t seem to affect him either!” Yeah, maybe with Paul McCartney or Eric Idle looking over my shoulder, I’d have a hard time getting a woody too. Finally, Connie gives up, and the mud wrestling image completely fades out except for the laser light zig-zag. And then… guess what happens.
Z-Dawg just stares intently at Connie, who looks overly flustered. They both look down at Z’s crotch, then Z looks back at Connie and she continues to look all flustered and embarrassed. And I’m sure all the guys who had fantasies about their junior high school librarians are probably sporting wood at this point.
Behind Z’s shoulder, Friend stifles a giggle. “Consuella’s done the trick herself!” Then all the hippies gather around Z-Dawg to have a good look at his stiffie, and some of them even start clapping [!!]. Meanwhile, Connie just looks flustered.