Zardoz (1974) (part 7 of 15)
Alrighty then. Now that John Boorman’s teenage sexual fantasies are out of the way, it’s back to tedium. We cut to the head of an eagle [?] and see a couple of llamas staring at each other, and one of them yawns [!].
Z-Dawg is asleep, and despite all his rage, he is still just a rat in a cage. Connie comes along and paces in front of Z-Dawg’s cage and talks into her mood ring. She’s amazed at how he’s been asleep for hours, calling it a “vulnerable condition”. So, these rings, I guess they take dictation, too?
She asks the ring for information on the “sleeping patterns of primitive people” and makes it a “priority request”. Then she tells the ring that she’s going to “test its waking response to danger stimuli.” Stimuli? In this movie? Not likely.
She goes to grab a big handful of Connery-ass, or something like that, but he snakes out a hand and grabs her wrist. He lets go and they continue to have Meaningful Looks with each other. She asks, “Does it please you to sleep?” While watching this movie? Absolutely. She wants to know why he likes to sleep, so Z says, “I have dreams.”
We then fade to clouds in the sky while the Mood Ring explains how “sleep became obsolete and Second Level Meditation took its place,” and that “sleep was closely connected with death.” Cut to some microscopic plankton floating around in water. Why? Artistry!
We’re back in the Tabernacle, and Z-Dawg is leaning on the massage table while the plankton are projected on the viewscreen behind him. May tells him to look at it, because “It’s you! Your genetic structure!” When she says this, we see what looks like a jellyfish [?] swimming around.
May calls the images his “life chart” and again tells him to look. Z-Dawg finally turns around and May calls him a “mutant” [?]. Well, I guess with jellyfish in your genetic structure, that would only follow. May comments that he has an “enlarged brain. Total recall.”
May, wide-eyed, considers his “breeding potential” and Z wants to know what she means. For some reason, May shouts, “Frayn!” She then turns to Z, again demanding to know how he got into the Vortex. He then plays that old “I’m just a dumb little Exterminator” act, but he’s not fooling anybody. She says he’s “physically and mentally, vastly superior to me or anyone else here!” Which, given what we’ve seen so far, is not saying much.
May says he could “be anything. You could do anything!” In the Army! “You must be destroyed.” Z-Dawg asks why, and May says he could “destroy us.” Z-Dawg asks, “As you’ve destroyed the rest of life? Can you un-know what you know now about me?” [?] I’m sure the general incoherence of this dialogue has a lot to do with it, but Sean Connery sounds beyond bored in this scene.
“For the sake of science,” May says, “I will keep this knowledge from the others for the moment.” But in return, “you must follow me, obey me, be circumspect.” Um, why?
Cut to Z walking around the dinner table, carrying a bowl of what looks like Swedish meatballs. Z-Dawg starts serving them up, while Connie yells at Friend to “put that thing outside!” Aw, mom!
Friend turns to everyone at the table and asks, “Anyone else disturbed?” You have no idea. They all titter eagerly, so Friend suggests they put it to “another boringly democratic vote”.
Connie points out to the group that it’s Friend’s day to cook, and it’s not fair for him to have his own personal Brutal help him out when everyone else has to do it alone. She says that it’s “fundamental to our society that we do everything ourselves!”
“Yes or no?” Z-Dawg suddenly says. “Potatoes,” he adds. “Yes or no?” Wait, is this the vote? They all laugh except for Flustered Connie. Friend says, “I say get more Zeds to do the work!” Then he rather reasonably points out how lame it is for immortals to do a bunch of menial work. “I’m sick of two hundred years of washing up!” That’s funny, because from the look of his scrawny limbs and soft skin, he doesn’t look like he’s done two hundred seconds of it in his whole life.
Friend angrily tosses his fork onto the table, which, for some reason, gets everyone all freaked out. Z-Dawg whispers to May that she needs to do something, so May announces that Connie’s right. She points out that Z-Dawg is a lab rat, not a servant. Big difference.
Connie retorts that the study’s over, so she should “Destroy it!” Everyone titters and says watermelon, watermelon, and strangely enough, we see there’s actually a plate of watermelon on the table. So maybe that’s what all those lines referred to. Connie tells them all to look at how Z “disrupts our community!” and May reassures her that it’s “almost over”. No such luck for those of us in the audience, however.
Another chick with Princess Leia hair complains about how mean it is to talk like that in front of Z. “It feels,” she adds. “It”? Hello, Ms. Kettle? There’s a Mr. Pot on the phone for you, something about being black?
Connie says, “Vote!” and some guy off-screen really shouts, “Yes! Vote!” Rock the vote!!
Vote-Taking Chick appears, and scans around the room as they all signal their bids, I mean votes. One girl signals her vote by rolling her eyes up in her head [!], Connie does her little slash of the throat, and May does a belly-dancer hand wave. One guy touches his nose, Carol Burnett tugs on her ear, another guy signals for a fast ball, and so on and so forth.
Meanwhile, another guy simply raises up his Bert-like unibrow [!] to signal his vote. Then, hilariously, we see two guys who actually have big perms [!], and this has to be the single gayest image I’ve seen in a long, long time.
Vote-Taking Chick announces that “May has been given seven days to complete her study. Then Zed will be terminated.” What the heck? Now when did “seven days” enter into this?
After the vote, Avalow, the first Topless Chick, stands up and starts singing [!] a single note. I have absolutely no idea why she’s doing this, and just to prepare you all, this is about the point where the movie parts company with all notions of logical motivations.
Avalow spreads her arms apart and says, “The monster is a mirror.” At this, everyone stands [?]. “And when we look at him, we look into our own hidden faces!” Wow!
For no reason, they all stretch their hands out in front of them. “Meditate on this at Second Level,” Avalow says, and then they all start wiggling their fingers around like the Terror from the Year 5000.
Friend, for utterly no reason, decides to drop his arms and sit back down. “No,” he whimpers, “I will, I will not go to Second Level!” I will not go to my room! And you can’t make me!
He continues to resist, so they all point their outstretched, wiggly fingers at him [?]. He continues to shout, “No!” and whines, “I will not be one mind with you!” Hmm. If there’s actually one mind among all the residents of the Vortex, who’s using it today?
He moans that he knows what May wants with Zed. Meanwhile, they all lean in with their eyes bugged out. Friend then yells, “The Vortex is an obscenity!” He then speaks for John Boorman when he cries out, “I hate all women! Birth! Fertility! Superstition!”
May tells him he’s “beyond redemption.” Then they all start to shout that he’s a “Renegade! Renegade!” Unfortunately, they don’t mean it in that cool, Lorenzo Lamas way. Connie says he “must be cast out!” Friend’s eyes roll up into his head. They all chant, “Renegade! Cast him out! Renegade!” The jig is up! The news is out! They’ve finally found me!
They keep yelling “Renegade!” as the choral singing reaches a fevered pitch. Finally, Friend collapses to the table and drops his ring. Now that that danger, or whatever the hell that was, has passed, the Eternals quietly lower their hands. Z-Dawg strolls on over to lift Friend’s head up, then drops it down with a thud. Yep, I’d say he’s dead.
So, let’s see how much of this I understand. The monster is a mirror, so they all had to go to Second Level. However, Friend, for no reason that will ever be explained, decided not to go to Second Level with them. So, they killed him. Make sense? No? Good. Then it’s not just me.