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Prior to its release on DVD, I never had the opportunity to see ZARDOZ ($25). However, since the film has a sizable and vocal cult following, I decided to check out this obscure offering. While I didn't completely understand the film, I found ZARDOZ to be a bizarre, but intriguing motion picture that absolutely deserves its cult status. ZARDOZ is best described as an art house science fiction movie, although I doubt that even that description does the film justice.

Writer/director John Boorman sets his tale in a distant, dystopian future, where mankind exists in two segregated societies. The Eternals, as their name implies have discover the secret of life everlasting, while The Brutals live as primitives that are taught to kill by their god Zardoz. Zardoz appears in the form of a giant stone head that flies through the air, landing in the realm of The Brutals, where he supplies his followers the weapons they use to kill. In ZARDOZ Sean Connery portrays Zed, one of The Brutals, who stows away inside of Zardoz and is transported into the impenetrable domain of The Eternals. Although, Consuella (Charlotte Rampling), the most vocal of The Eternals, wants Zed destroyed immediately, May (Sara Kestelman) convinces the rest of the community to allow her time to study their unexpected visitor. As Zed spends time amongst The Eternals, he proves to be a disruptive influence, and his continued presence has ramifications that ultimately affect both societies. The cast of ZARDOZ also includes John Alderton, Sally Anne Newton, Niall Buggy and Bosco Hogan.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made ZARDOZ available on DVD in a wide screen presentation that restores the film's 2.35:1 framing, in addition to offering the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This is a very good transfer of an older and somewhat obscure film. In general, image quality is fairly pleasing with everything appearing relatively sharp and well defined. A lot of smoke and fog appears throughout the course of the movie, which has a tendency to soften up the image. Film grain is noticeable throughout the presentation, but it never becomes a distraction. For the most part, colors tend to be subdued, but sequences with controlled lighting offer better saturation. Neither chroma noise nor bleeding cause any problems. Blacks appear accurate and the level of shadow detail is decent enough for the image to retain a level of dimensionality. Digital compression artifacts remain out of sight throughout on this dual layered disc.

The Dolby Digital 3.0 channel soundtrack is localized in the forward soundstage, providing a very good stereo image. There are clear separations between the channels, from which the music benefits. Much of the dialogue is locked into the center channel, which is more effective than the phantom center channel that a two channel stereo mix would provide. Additionally, there are bits of directional dialogue that are presented in either the left or right channels. Of course, there are the expected frequency limitations that one generally finds in recording from the 1970s. However, the sound will take a goodly amount of amplification without becoming distorted. A French monaural soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. John Boorman contributes a running commentary to the DVD that fans of ZARDOZ should appreciate. After all, this is their long awaited chance to hear Boorman talk about the most misunderstood film of his career. Also included on the DVD is a still gallery that offers production photos and publicity materials. Six radio spots are amongst the extras, plus a group of Fox sci-fi trailers that includes ZARDOZ.

ZARDOZ is not going to appeal to everyone- the movie is something of an acquired taste. However, the only way to acquire the taste is to sample the movie, and there is no better way than seeing it on DVD.





DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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