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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Zardoz [Blu-ray]

 

(John Boorman, 1974)

 

 

More Apocalypse-related films on Blu-ray and DVD reviewed (click review buttons to also see

comparisons where applicable) from our article Films From The End of the World:

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: John Boorman Productions

Video: Twilight Time / Arrow (UK)

 

Disc:

Region: FREE / Region 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player) Limited to 3,000 Copies!

Runtime: 1:46:06.610 / 1:46:05.859

Disc Size: 33,499,506,689 bytes / 48,484,953,540 bytes

Feature Size: 32,943,568,896 bytes / 33,584,800,128 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.98 Mbps / 35.06 Mbps

Chapters: 24 / 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: April, 2015 / September 14th, 2015

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2976 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2976 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1834 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1834 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1971 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1971 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Isolated Score:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1799 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1799 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2478 kbps 3.0 / 48 kHz / 2478 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 3.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles (both):

English (SDH), None

 

Extras:

Audio Commentary with Director John Boorman
Audio Commentary with Film Historians Jeff Bond, Joe Fordham and Nick Redman
6 Radio Spots (5:00)
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:29)

Isolated Score

Liner notes by Julie Kirgo

Limited Edition of 5,000 units

 

Audio commentary with writer-producer-director John Boorman
Brand new interviews with Boorman (21:59), actor Sara Kestelman (16:54), production designer Anthony Pratt (17:32), special effects creator Gerry Johnston (21:18), camera operator Peter MacDonald (15:28), assistant director Simon Relph (13:46), hair stylist Colin Jamison (8:47), production manager Seamus Byrne (9:31), and assistant editor Alan Jones (7:38)
Newly filmed appreciation with director Ben Wheately (Kill List, Sightseers, A Field in England) (16:24)
Theatrical trailer (3:09)
Radio spots (2:58)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
Collector's booklet containing new writing on the film by Julian Upton and Adrian Smith, plus archive interviews, illustrated by original production stills

 

Bitrate:

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Description: Writer-director John Boorman’s fabulously bizarre Zardoz (1974) is a visually stunning science fiction/fantasy fable starring Sean Connery as the spanner in the works of a dreamily languid future society. A primitive Adam, Connery’s Zed charges like a bull through the china shop of a civilization from which all signs of lusty humanity have been drained. Co-starring the fascinating Charlotte Rampling, and featuring spectacular production design by Anthony Pratt and stunning cinematography by Geoffrey Unsworth.

 

 

The Film:

A resident of 23rd-century Earth becomes involved in a revolution after discovering the hidden truth about society's rulers in director John Boorman's sci-fi drama. Sean Connery plays Zed, the central rebel, who begins the film as a member of the Exterminators, a band of skilled assassins who exact a reign of terror over the lesser Brutals. The Exterminators answer only to their god, a gigantic stone image known as Zardoz. Haunted by doubt about Zardoz's true divinity, Zed chooses to investigate. His disbelief is confirmed when the god proves to be a fraudulent tool of the Eternals, a secret society of brilliant immortals who pretend to divinity in order to exploit the masses. Knowing the truth, Zed sets out to reveal the hoax and destroy the Eternals' unjust rule.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

A bizarre futurist fantasy which seems to have substituted itself when Boorman's plans to film Tolkien's Lord of the Rings fell through. Zardoz (joke ref: Wizard of Oz) is a vast, Blakean bust of a bearded Zeus which roams the air spewing arms and ammunition to its Exterminators on earth so that they may enforce the law: 'The gun is good, the penis is evil'. Liberated by the memory of a rape committed in the course of his liberties, one of these Exterminators (Connery) enters the godhead, kills the magician manipulating it, and finds he has penetrated the Vortex, a world of sterilised stasis established to preserve the sum of man's knowledge. At which point, poised to take off from its make love not war springboard, perhaps to explore the dichotomy between physical and spiritual forces, the script gradually falls apart into a mess of philosophical pottage under the whimsically pretentious Tolkien influence. But visually the film remains a sparkling display of fireworks, brilliantly shot and directed.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Zardoz has arrived on Blu-ray from Twilight Time to the absolute delight of its niche fanbase.

It's another strong dual-layered 1080P transfer with a very high bitrate and looks marvelous. It's a film that visual subtleties weren't picked up well by SD. It advances significantly via this new HD transfer. There is texture, contrast layering and colors are richer and deeper than SD could export. It is very clean - almost no speckles, or compression-style artifacts, are visible. The Blu-ray shows the film's effects impressively and I think it's a great presentation.

 

In short, slight difference with Arrow coming out ahead. There is a minor framing discrepancy but I think the, more robust, UK transfer looks marginally better. It's a small difference but I think Arrow is actually smoother and negligibly superior.     

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Twilight Time use a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 2976 kbps and the film's eclectic effects definiotely benefit from the lossless rendering with some subtle separations and enhanced mood. As well as the very moving (and building) Symphony No. 7 in A, op. 92, 2nd movement by Beethoven (also notable in Alex Proyas's film Knowing) we get a score by David Munrow.
From the interesting blog Mounds and Circles, we have taken this excerpt:
"The soundtrack for Zardoz uses a sprinkling of electronic noises woven into early chamber instrumentation, renaissance and Ligeti-modernist choral passages, Debussy flute suggesting Zed's affinity with Pan and Tibetan tingsha cymbals to top it off. On paper this looks rather confusing but the score works seamlessly with the sound effects and serves to enhance Boorman's visuals without dominating, possessing an almost timeless quality as it folds together styles from different periods to create the sound of futures past, as is only appropriate for the Eternals in AD 2293."   It sounds excellent via the uncompressed transfer. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles (sample above) and m
y Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.

 

Arrow may notch ahead here with a DTS-HD Master 3.0 channel at 2478 kbps in 24-bit. This is an attempt to replicate the original 4-Track Stereo. It sounds excellent, IMO, and there is an optional linear PCM 2.0 channel choice. Beethoven and Munrow's score sound excellent - tight and very crisp and there are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked Blu-ray disc.     

 

Extras :

We get the past audio commentary with director John Boorman where he states (Wikipedia link) that the 'Zardoz world' was on a collision course with an "effete" eternal society, which it accomplished, and in the story must reconcile with a more natural human nature. It is very revealing - as is the second commentary - a new one with film historians Jeff Bond, Joe Fordham and Nick Redman who probe quite deep into the themes and meanings of Boorman's fascinating film. There are also 6 radio spots, an original theatrical trailer - the always present Isolated Score track (which is a very good 'listen' if you have the time) and the package has liner notes by Julie Kirgo and this is limited to 5,000 units.

 

Arrow, again, go the extra mile with their supplements starting with the same audio commentary with writer-producer-director John Boorman as found on the Twilight Time. But they offer over 2 1/4 hours of new interview with principals of the production including Boorman, actor Sara Kestelman, production designer Anthony Pratt, special effects creator Gerry Johnston, camera operator Peter MacDonald, assistant director Simon Relph, hair stylist Colin Jamison, production manager Seamus Byrne, and assistant editor Alan Jones. Bravo! We hear every detail of the production from the people who were there. There is also a 17-minute newly filmed appreciation with director Ben Wheately regarding his interpretation of Zardoz and it is quite interesting. Lastly are a theatrical trailer, 6 radio spots and the package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin and a liner notes collector's booklet containing new writing on the film by Julian Upton and Adrian Smith, plus archive interviews, illustrated by original production stills.

 

Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Zardoz is a highly misunderstood effort by most audiences. I could watch it all over again as the post-apocalyptic science fiction milieu is always a favorite. I tried to think of what Zardoz reminds me of - maybe A Clockwork Orange in some respects. The Blu-ray has immense value with the two commentaries and the film - which can be revisited - seeing new details - for years. If you have any interest, I'd snap it up - as I suspect even at 5,000 units it may go out-of-print eventually. Beautiful, odd, and deep - strongly recommended!

 

The film continues to grow on you even after seeing it a dozen times. Zardoz is an incredible and unique cinematic event. Surprisingly, the Twilight Time is bested - I think the Arrow is the more accomplished Blu-ray package. Very strongly recommended!   

Gary Tooze

April 16th, 2015

September 8th, 2015

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze

 

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