Synopsis: 2293. Zardoz, an unseen "God" who speaks through an idol - a large stone statue of a head - leads a barbaric race called the Brutals, who live a harsh existence in the Outlands. Zardoz tells the Brutals that once they die, they will be transported to the Vortex, where they will live happily as immortals. He has armed a small group - the Exterminators - with guns, as Zardoz's philosophy is that killing is good, and procreation is the root of all that is bad. In reality, Zardoz is Arthur Frayn, from a competing more advanced race called the Eternals who live in paradise in the Vortex. The Eternals truly are immortal as they do not age and their bodies undergo reconstruction if they "die". As such, they truly do not believe in procreation as their society has reached perfect equilibrium. Past human acts such as sex and sleep are obsolete in their advanced state. All major decisions are achieved through pure democracy. The Eternals, however, are not immune to non life threatening disease o
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Director(s): John Boorman
Production: Fox
  Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
105 min

I am Arthur Frayn, and I am Zardoz.

I have lived 300 years,

and I long to die,

but death is no longer possible.

I am immortal.

I present now my story,

full of mystery and intrigue,

rich in irony, and most satirical.

It is set deep in a possible future,

so none of these events have yet occurred.

But they may.

Be warned, lest you end as I.

In this tale, I am a fake god

by occupation

and a magician by inclination.

Merlin is my hero.

I am the puppet master.

I manipulate many of the characters

and events you will see.

But I am invented, too,

for your entertainment and amusement.

And you, poor creatures,

who conjured you out of the clay?

Is God in show business, too?


Praise be to Zardoz!

Praise be to Zardoz!

Praise be to Zardoz!

Zardoz speaks to you, his chosen ones.

We are the chosen ones.

You have been raised up from brutality

to kill the brutals

who multiply and are legion.

To this end Zardoz, your god,

gave you the gift of the gun.

The gun is good.

The gun is good.

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.

Guns! Guns!


...are foolish.

I could have shown you.

Without me, you are nothing.

A bore!

How pointless!

How pointless!

Attention. Harvest produce report.

Attention. Harvest produce report.

Attention. Harvest produce report.

Attention. Harvest produce report.

Submit surpluses and needs.

Submit surpluses and needs

for intervortex barter and exchange.

Year 2293. Third harvest yield.

Vortex 4. Needs:

Soap, apples, salt, leather.

Vortex 9. Surplus:

Soap, apples, leather.

Oats, barley, carrots.

Here is a list of surpluses

and needs remaining.

Here is a list of surpluses

and needs remaining.

Here is a list of surpluses

and needs remaining.



Who lives here?

I am Arthur Frayn.

- No.

- Vortex 4.

I am Arthur...

Vor... 4.

Arthur Frayn.

Vortex 4.

I am Ar...

Vortex 4.

I am Arthur Frayn.

Vortex 4.

Three from Vortex 8.

Four from Vortex 5.

Did you ever see such mangled limbs?

There are 14 bodies for repair.

- What is it?

- Flower.

- For what?

- Decorative.

- Do you know where you are?

- The vortex.

You come from the outlands.

You were told about the vortex?

- Zardoz says...

- What does Zardoz say?

Zardoz says if you obey him,

you will go to a vortex when you die

and there you will live for ever.

- Happily?

- Yes.

So you think you're dead?

Am I?

- You're an exterminator.

- I kill for Zardoz.

You came here in the stone head.

I don't know.

It is the only path

and passage into the vortex.

You will show me

how you come to be here.

- You have a name?

- My name is Zed.

Zed... for Zardoz.

I am an exterminator.

The memories are simple heroics.

There are no abstractions, you will notice.

It is very fragmented.

The shock of entering the vortex

could be responsible.

Zarde 312.

25 brutals exterminated.

Took a woman in his name.


The place

where the sea meets the land.

It's blacked again.

It seems to be able

to control its memory.

Show us more of your work.

Zardoz made us grow wheat.

This is a more recent memory.

Cultivation has started.

- Disturbed?

- A little.

- The outlands have to be controlled.

- I've always voted against forced farming.

You eat the bread.

We have to shut ourselves off.

We have to.

This is the first visual contact with the

outlands in years... as opposed to data...

since Arthur was delegated to control them.

It is proper that we investigate.

It's better not to know.

These images will pollute us.

Quench it. Quell it.

No brutal has ever penetrated a vortex.

It therefore requires study.

Perhaps it can tell us why Arthur

has vanished so mysteriously.



Is Arthur Frayn's memory transmission

still functioning?

Arthur Frayn ceased transmission

three days ago.

Replay his last memory moments.

No, play back the preceding images so we

can discover how he suffered this fall.

It is permitted only

to show the accident.

No other memory image may be shown

without the consent

of the individual concerned.

But we need to determine the location

in case he is injured

and the body has to be recovered.

Arthur Frayn died.

Reconstruction has begun.

Ah, yes. There.

That's an end to it.

- Kill it, May.

- No.

May, for our love.

- Consuella...

- Don't.

I will invoke a community vote.

- The community will follow my intuition.

- Then I will go to the vortex.

- You're hurting me.

- Consuella, this is an experiment.

We must find out how it came here.

Where is Arthur Frayn?

How did you come into the stone?

Zardoz... The stone.

Terribly exciting.

- But the suffering.

- You can't equate their feelings with ours.

It's just entertainment.

Again, this is a key image.

My father was chosen.

My mother was chosen.

Only we could breed. Only the chosen.

Selective breeding, do you think?

What has Arthur being doing

out there all these years?

He never discussed this in the vortex.

He will have to be thoroughly investigated.

No one else wanted to run the outlands.

He's an artist.

He does it with imagination.

I love to see them running.

I love the moment of their death,

when I am one with Zardoz.

Obscenely decaying flesh.

The sweet scent of putrefaction

already in the air.

He's a fine, strong beast, dear May.

- What exactly do you want to do with him?

- A full genetic study. Break its DNA code.

See if there are evolutional changes

since ours were analysed 200 years ago.

Discover any new hereditary diseases

that may have emerged

which might result in broadening

our immunisation spectrum.

Study its emotional and psychic elements

in relation to its sociology.

That all sounds respectably scientific,

but what is May's underthought?

Not long ago she was asking for new births,

although we have no death.

We are perfectly stabilised.

We said "no" to May.

Now she wants to bring in

this animal from the outside.

Think of our equilibrium. Remember

the delicate balance we must maintain.

The presence will dismay

our tranquillity.

May is a great scientist,

but she also has destructive tendencies.

We have means of controlling it.

We are not so vulnerable.

Look at it. It knows its life

is at stake,

otherwise it would rape and kill

as it always has.

- You can see the disrupting effect.

- Let's keep it.

Anything to relieve the boredom.

I want to see more of its memories.

This is a psychic disturbance.

Avalow, what does it portend

for the future?

How did we conjure up

a monster in our midst?

And why?

That is the question we must answer.

Well, you've set

the fur flying, my friend.

I wonder what's going on

inside your pea brain?

I like you, you sly old monster.

Do you hear?




Congratulations. You live.

For three weeks.


I'll examine him later, in the dome.

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John Boorman

John Boorman is an English film-maker who is best known for his feature films such as Point Blank, Hell in the Pacific, Deliverance, Zardoz, Excalibur, The Emerald Forest, Hope and Glory, The General, The Tailor of Panama, and Queen and Country. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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