Updated: Dec 8, 2019
As with all reviews on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete overview of the film. Rather, it is to examine how the movie relates to the meaning of life.
Zardoz is a fantasy/sci-fi movie directed by John Boorman and released in 1974. The film takes place in the year 2293. The main character, Zed, is played by Sean Connery, who runs around in a bright red speedo for nearly two hours sporting chest hair that would make Austin Powers jealous. If you are able to wrap your head around this, understand that Zed, as a mortal, is caught amidst an existential crisis of the Immortal class. In addition, there are scantily clad women running around in headscarves, a giant stone head that flies around pretending to be God, and more. Yes, nothing about this movie will make sense, yet it will leave your pondering the meaning of life.
Without delving too deeply into the story, the essential plot is that there are two groups of people: the Immortals and the Brutals. The Immortals, living in paradise, are so bored and sick of life that they end up as either Renegades (demented degenerates) or Apathetics who stand around and do nothing. The Immortals turn the Brutals into slaves to harvest wheat to feed the Renegades and Apathetics who can no longer work. The Brutals naturally do not like this, and Zed infiltrates their tabernacle in order to exact revenge.
The Immortals have failed to realize that when they opted to live forever, they would fail to evolve as a society and as a species. As such, the Brutals, through selective breeding guided by the Immortals, have become biologically superior.
Overall, the movie does a good job at exploring the meaning of life in respect to immortality. That is, if humanity proceeds to a state of deathlessness and becomes stagnant, would life cease to have meaning just as it does in Zardoz? It is a good question as medicine and technology continue to advance at a torrid pace towards extending our lives. As a result, as a society, we may soon find out.
Inherently, it boils down to what an individual feels would give life meaning. In a recent blog post, we noted that the author Paul Thagard felt that the quintessential element to living a meaningful life was a balance of love, work, and play. Examining this, is it possible to love someone for all eternity? After all, 40–50% of marriages end up in divorce—and even worse, a good number of people stay unhappily married. In Zardoz, sex for the Immortals became obsolete, and individuals did not necessarily marry as they would in today’s society. No coupling, no offspring, no nuclear family, no classic definitions of love.
In addition, if we assume that sometime in the future all things will become known, then work will probably not be needed. Most work will likely be done by machines. In fact, the Immortals complain that they have traveled to the farthest stars but still became bored. Thus, unless two individuals are impeccable soul mates, or society shifts to a love-all standard, and if there is no need for work, then all that is left is play. Would life still have meaning? After binge playing your favorite video game for 138 hours and 34 seconds, do you feel fulfilled?
Our question to you then is this: If you were immortal, do you think the meaning of life would change? If so, how?
Overall, there aren’t many notable quotes from the movie, but the ones we did find are below.
Zardoz: “The Penis is evil! The Penis shoots Seeds, and makes new Life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the Gun shoots Death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth, and kill! Zardoz has spoken.”
Zed quotes Nietzsche: “He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself.” (Instagram Picture)
Avalow: “Death approaches! We are all mortal again! Now, we can say ‘yes’ to death, but never again ‘no.’ Now, we must make our farewells: to each other, to the sun and moon, trees and sky, earth and rock; the landscape of our long waking-dream.”
Despite not having many great quotes, the movie still makes one think deeply about life.
We rate the movie as follows:
Overall - 6
Meaning of Life Relevance - 10
Uniqueness – 8