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The gun is good. The penis is evil. Go forth, and kill!

Zardoz is a 1974 science-fiction film, set in the distant future, in which a savage trained only to kill finds a way into the community of bored immortals that alone preserves humanity's achievements.

Directed and written by John Boorman.
Beyond 1984, Beyond 2001, Beyond Love, Beyond Death. (taglines)

Arthur Frayn

  • I am Arthur Frayn, and I am Zardoz. I have lived three hundred 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 that you see. But I am invented, too, for your entertainment and amusement. And you, poor creatures, who conjured you out of the clay? [chuckles] Is God in show business, too?

The Tabernacle

  • Sleep was necessary for man when his waking and unconscious lives were separated. As eternals achieved total consciousness, sleep became obsolete, and second level meditation took its place.
  • You have penetrated me. There is no escape. You are within me. Come into my centre... Come into the centre of the crystal.
  • [after Zed shoots the crystal] You have destroyed us. You found the flaw in the crystal. We are gone. You... are alone.


  • It's an ark. A ship. A spaceship. All this technology was for travel to the distant stars.

Old Scientist

  • We seal ourselves herewith into this place of learning. Death is banished for ever. I direct that the Tabernacle erase from us all memories of its construction, so we can never destroy it if we should ever crave for death. Here, man and the sum of his knowledge will never die, but go forward to perfection.


Friend: Arthur! We've all been used...
Arthur Frayn: ...and reused...
Friend: ...and abused...
Arthur Frayn: ...and amused! [laughs]

Zardoz: Zardoz speaks to you, his 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.
Exterminators: The gun is good.
Zardoz: The penis is evil. The penis shoots seeds, and makes new life, and poisons 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!

Arthur Frayn: It was I! I bred you! I led you!
Zed: And I have looked into the face of the force which put the idea in your head. You are bred and led yourself.

Zed: It’s a trick! A trick!
May: What was a trick? Tell me.
Zed: Zardoz said "stop". He said, "no more".
May: No more what?
Zed: No more killing.
May: He told you to take prisoners?
Zed: Yes.
May: To make slaves?
Zed: Yes.
May: To cultivate instead of kill?
Zed: Yes.
May: To grow wheat?
Zed: Yes!
May: Did you need wheat?
Zed: No! We ate meat! Zardoz betrayed us. We were hunters, not farmers!

May: Your friends were mutants, too?
Zed: Yes.
May: You had a plot?
Zed: Yes.
May: Revenge?
Zed: The truth. We wanted the truth! I told them about the book.
May: Show it. What is the book?
Zed: No. No. No! ZARDOZ!!!
May: So that was it.
Zed: The Wizard of Oz. Zardoz. The Wizard of Oz was a fairy story about an old man who frightened people with a loud voice and a big mask.

Zed: How did it come about, the Vortex? How did it start?
Friend: [referring to the Renegades] They did it. They were the scientists, the best in the world. But they were middle-aged, too conditioned to mortality. They went renegade. We were their offspring and we were born into vortex life. [...] We applied ourselves to the unsolved mysteries of the universe, but even with infinite time and the help of the Tabernacle, Our minds were not up to it. We failed. And now we’re trapped by our own devices. There is no exit.

Quotes about Zardoz

  • [A] genuinely quirky movie, a trip into a future that seems ruled by perpetually stoned set decorators ... The movie is an exercise in self-indulgence (if often an interesting one) by Boorman, who more or less had carte blanche to do a personal project after his immensely successful Deliverance.
  • Um, it was the 70’s, and I was doing a lot of drugs. Frankly, even I’m not entirely sure what parts of the movie are about.
  • For the finale of my 1974 film Zardoz, I wanted to shoot a scene of Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling in which they age and die. This involved shooting with a fixed camera, so that we could take them out, age their clothes and faces, put them back in, shoot them a bit more, then take them out and age them further, until eventually they were skeletons that, in turn, crumbled away.
    This process took an entire day. Then, the camera assistant unloaded the camera and accidentally exposed the film to the light. This meant we had to spend another whole day shooting it. I also had to restrain Connery from killing the assistant – who soon afterwards changed his name and moved to Los Angeles. I spied him in a cafe in LA one day. “Is Sean in town?” he asked, with a quivering voice.


  • Beyond 1984, Beyond 2001, Beyond Love, Beyond Death.
  • I have seen the future and it doesn't work.
  • Into a world of eternal life, he brought the gift of death.


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