A new poll from the Pew Research Center finds that most Americans do not think living to 120 years or beyond is good. Americans hope just having ninety birthdays is enough for them. Extending life expectancy by toying with the natural aging process to achieve immortality may sound appealing. But even some potheads in San Francisco may be sober enough to recall the moral of the story from the 1974 film, ′Zardoz′, starring Sean Connery as Zed the Exterminator. Yes, here we go, my excuse for writing about this awesome movie!
Okay, so its 1973 and filmmaker John Boorman is on top of the Hollywood pyramid having made ′Deliverance′. Sean Connery is done with James Bond and wants something totally different. So the movie moguls give Boorman a blank check to do whatever he wants, especially if Sean Connery is the star. The end result is ′Zardoz′, a science fiction film that simply blows away all conventions. Talk about ′psychological nudity′, Zardoz is a romp through the doors of perception.
The premise is that civilization breaks down. Society rots and crumbles away, much as we see happening today. The ′rich and the clever′ build themselves oases known as Vortexes. Protected by an energy shield, the riffraff are left out on their own while the Vortex inhabitants continue to prosper and evolve. They blend technology with their bodies and minds, building The Tabernacle, a cloning system which stores all thoughts and transfers them via a crystal implant in the cloned body′s skull. They hence forth become The Eternals, capable of living indefinitely, and to protect themselves, all knowledge of how to stop The Tabernacle is erased.
But there are still far too many riffraff, known as the Brutals, running around loose on the Earth. So the Eternals come up with a solution. They invent a new god, Zardoz, a giant stone head that floats about. One Eternal, Arthur Frayn of Vortex 4, volunteers to manage the Zardoz scheme. He selects a new chosen people, the Exterminators, for whom Zardoz rewards with guns and ammunition. Zardoz tells them that, ″the gun is good, the penis is bad.″, and sends them off to kill as many Butals as they can.
However, immortality turns out to be not so terrific after all. Many of the Eternals fall prey to a new disease, apathy. So much so that Zardoz has to change things up and orders the Exterminators to capture and enslave Brutals in order to grow enough food to feed the Apathetics. This does not sit well with the Exterminators, who, as we discover, Arthur Frayn has been selectively breeding into a race of super-humans. Frayn chooses Zed to be their leader, and tricks him into learning to read. Just as Frayn had hoped for, Zed comes across the one book that changes everything.
After reading ′The Wonderful Wizard of Oz′, Zed figures out that Zardoz is a false god. He sneaks on board the giant floating head, shoots Frayn and enters Vortex 4 through the energy shield. The Eternals capture and study Zed, only to realize that he is their superior. Zed finds out that not only do the Eternals have a problem with apathy, but also a growing movement of radicals who want an end to eternal life. After centuries of self-improvement and even turning the Earth into a starship, exploring the galaxy, the Eternals face the reality that the universe is full of dead ends. So Zed obliges the radicals and destroys the Tabernacle. The energy shield fails and Exterminators enter the Vortexes to kill the old masters. Most die willing and happy. Zed mates with one Eternal and helps produce the next generation of super-humans.
So living to 120 years or beyond may not be such a good thing. The new poll by the Pew Research Center shows that most Americans hope to have maybe ninety birthdays, as that is long enough. Extending life expectancy by altering the aging process may look good with some lab rats in San Francisco, but what about the quality of life? Do we want to spend a decade or more stuck in a Captain Pike chair from Star Trek with a light to blink Yes or No? Is immortality really cracked up as some lofty goal, or is it just another dead end? If you don’t believe me, just watch the cool ‘Zardoz’ video below. It will blow your mind!