"I hope I die before I get old," wailed Roger Daltrey less than a decade before John Boorman wrote and filmed Zardoz to warn us that if our desire to stay forever young is ever fulfilled it will be a Really Bad Thing. The result: total stagnation, societal collapse and an end to progress. We'll be left with a handful of privileged immortals living in a bucolic idyll sealed in from the world outside, where gangs of raping, killing Brutals - led by a wildly mustachio'd Sean Connery in his undies - prey upon the dead-eyed survivors.
'The gun is good! The penis is evil!'
Source: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
So it's not just immortality we should fear, but gated communities too. Boorman had the wit to understand that his arty cinema audience were, ironically, the ones most likely to surrender to the temptation of withdrawing from the world and leaving it to the proletarian hordes. And he had the sense of humour to admit to the same Educated Middle Class failing in himself. Meanwhile, Zardoz's warning remains as relevant today as it did in the early 1970s.
Writer John Boorman
Notes A computer based on the infinite pathways light can take in a crystal? It may yet happen.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
A man-meets-aliens movie that doesn't involve heavy weaponry and acid for blood. And isn't a metaphor for the evils of Communism, either. Steve Spielberg's first movie after Jaws is no adventure story but a meditation on the human quest for the meaning of life. An encounter with an extraterrestrial craft drives Richard Dreyfuss' Roy Neary to the brink of madness, turning his back on wife and child, hearth and home in his quest to come to terms with a world that he has been forced to accept is rather bigger than the 'burbs, which he rejects first by trashing his house and later by leaving the planet altogether.
Flying saucer or Christmas tree?
Source: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
In an era of cynicism, Spielberg's movie is resolutely uncynical and positive - even a military cover-up scheme is pragmatic rather than paranoid. And if it equates the superior flying saucer folk with the innocence of a child - literally: just see how closely Carlo Rambaldi's animatronic alien resembles toddler Cary Guffey.
"Monsieur Neary, I envy you," says Francois Truffaut's Lacomb as Dreyfuss is about to board the alien vessel in his quest for the ultimate answer. Who doesn't?
Writer Steven Spielberg
Notes Go for the original, theatrical version, a tighter and more impressionistic work than the shorter, over-sentimental Special Edition version or the unnecessarily extended Anniversary Edition.
Next page: Star Trek: The Motion Picture
You put Zardoz in there but missed Silent Running?
Zardoz is terrible. Watched it a few months back and aside from some neat ideas and imagery its actually one of the worst films I have ever seen. A film so bad it actually hurts.
It's essentially takes what would make a good Doctor Who or Blakes 7 story and turns it into the longest 100 or so minutes of your life.
I wanted to like it, there of bits of it that I think are really quite good, but it's just a confused po-faced mess that gets worse as the movie progresses.
That said, you can pick Zardoz up for pennies on Amazon so if you are interested in such things (as I am) at least you don't have to pay through the nose to get a copy. Think mine literally cost me a few pence + the postage!
Oh, and one other thing: Dark Star
Dark Star was the first movie to show the non-utopian(*) version of the Sci-Fi space travel future: bored, lonely people in a cramped uncomfortable dirty spaceship with everything breaking down and going wrong and a disinterested planet Earth back home cutting off their funding.
(*) - Yes, I mean non-utopian as opposed to dystopian. I'm treating topianity as (at least) three-valued, and I don't think it's really about a dystopia
Bit of an underappreciated classic methinks. Directed by Katherine Bigelow who got the rights as part of her divorce settlement with James Cameron who wrote the script. It has dated a bit because they chose to set it in 2000 and the technology seems to involve MiniDiscs; but the idea of people recording their experiences seems somewhat prescient in the era of Google Glass.
The opening POV robbery is a work of genius and it has the amazing Angela Bassett as one of Cameron's strong female roles. There are a couple of incredibly violent scenes, including a rape, which some people might find too much.
Re: Wot, no Avatar?
I remember seeing Leslie Neilsen interviewed about his career. One of the things touched on was Forbidden Planet. He said that he thought he had it made when he did that. He was the hero, he got the girl, the reviews were good and it sold well. Pretty much everything an actor could ask for to endorse their credentials as a box office draw in a lead role.
He said he sat back and waited for the phone to ring. It never did and to this day he still wonders why it didn't.
I'm with him. I thought he was bloody brilliant in it.
Have to agree with most of these, though Zardoz does look very daft.
I've never watched it all in one sitting.
Have to agree about Star Trek, it's my favourite Trek film (providing you fast forward through the 'look at the cool spaceship' scenes).
What about 'Moon'? That's a corking modern science fiction film.