Zardoz (1974) (part 8 of 15)
Abruptly, we find Z-Dawg running up a hill. As he reaches a plateau overlooking the lake, we hear a bland voice announce that he is “approaching the periphery shield of Vortex Four.” We hear a low hum, and Z goes up and starts miming the “glass box” routine in thin air to simulate, I presume, the “periphery shield”.
Z feels his way along the “periphery shield” until he spots some of his old Red Diaper buddies on a hill in the distance. Z raises his hand in a Black Power salute, so his buddies fire off a flare gun in response and ride off. That will be important later, but only in the sense that what those guys do will end this movie that much quicker.
Then, for no reason at all, Z-Dawg tries to push on the shield some more, and now that we’re looking at him from a different angle, Boorman has stuck a sheet of glass in here to represent the shield. Z-Dawg pushes against it with his hands, then pushes against it with his face [!]. What this shot was supposed to accomplish other than raucous laughter is beyond me.
Then we cut to the Renegade Rest Home, where it’s always New Years’ Eve! Zed runs up to the window, where he’s spotted by an old guy with Koala Bear hair who points at him and sticks out his tongue. Andy Rooney, you’re so decrepit.
Z walks around inside, asking all the slow dancing Old People if they’ve seen Friend. “I seek Friend!” he yells. Well, geez, go sign up for Yahoo Personals or something. Everyone just silently stares at him, but eventually, he spots Friend in a tux staring out a window.
Z happily approaches him, but when Friend turns around, it appears that the left half of his face is now aged and old [??]. Say what? Friend corrects him: “Old Friend.” Ha ha! You still got it, man!
Friend grumbles, “This is your fault!” It is? How? Isn’t Friend the one who didn’t want to go to Second Grade, I mean, Second Level? Regardless, Friend jumps up on stage, interrupts the band, and addresses all of the Renegades as “old farts!”
He introduces Z-Dawg as a “creature from the outside world”. He adds, “This man has the gift of death!” All the old people immediately cry out, “Death?” Friend tells them Z-Dawg is “mortal”, and an old woman cries out, “He can die!” Yep, for all I care.
Friend asks if they should “give him back to death? Silent death? Glorious death?” Huh? All the old people get really riled up at this, wanting to give Zed “back to death”. Suddenly, they start mobbing him [!] and shouting “Beat him!” Calm down, gang. It’s Z-Dawg, not one of the guys from N’Sync.
Friend yells that May wants Zed around in order to “spawn another generation to suffer our agonies!” She does? Since when? And why? I guess that has something to do with the “breeding potential” thing, but, honestly, assuming she really does want another generation, why would it matter?
Anyway, the old folks knock Z-Dawg to the ground and start clawing at him. Yep, this is definitely like one of my family reunions. To get away, Z-Dawg starts jumping across beds, diving through chiffon curtains, and as he crosses one bed, an old woman starts beating him with her crutch [!]. Wow, they really should consider making escaping from a rest home an Olympic event!
Z-Dawg snatches the crutch away and threatens all the old people with it, so they stop coming after him. Z-Dawg goes to the stage to ask Friend what he wants.
“Sweet death,” Friend says. “Oblivion.” You and me both, pal. Z asks for clarification, so Friend says he wants “an end to the human race!” [?] Z-Dawg tells him, “You stink of despair!” No, actually, I think one of the old people just crapped their pants.
Z-Dawg tells Friend to “fight for death, if that’s what you want!” Or, you can fight for your right to party. Either way. Friend says he thought Z would be “the one to help”, but now he considers things “hopeless. All my powers have gone.” In response, Z abruptly changes the subject, asking where the Tabernacle is. Er, wasn’t he inside of it? You know, blue pyramid, can’t miss it?
Friend, however, gets all teary-eyed and can’t remember where the Tabernacle is. Darn it! Foiled by senility! Z-Dawg wants to know who made it, so that he can figure out how to smash it up real good. Friend says he can meet the inventor of the Tabernacle himself, who’s “one of our Founders! One of the geniuses that discovered immortality!” He takes Zed into another room where a really, really old Strom Thurmond look-alike is asleep.
It turns out that, according to Friend, Really Old Guy didn’t conform, so this is where he eventually ended up. Friend bangs a cane against Old Guy’s bedside to wake him. When the old man wakes up, looking completely confused, Friend yells, “We want to die! What’s the trick?”
The old man simply groans, “Death…” Then he sees Z-Dawg and excitedly points at him and goes, “Death!” Hey, remember that one episode of The Simpsons where Grandpa Simpson pointed at random stuff and cried out, “Ahhh! Death!” That’s exactly what this scene is like.
Really Old Guy simply tells them to “Talk to May.” Uh, okay. I thought Zed had been talking to May all throughout the movie, but whatever.