John Boorman is the guy who made Hope & Glory and Deliverance. But yet, somehow he's also the man who made Zardoz, the infamous Sean Connery in a red diaper film. Of course, his next film was Exorcist II, so maybe it's not as out of line in his filmography as it first seems. Anyway, it's coming out on blu-ray for the first time in April from Twilight Time, but has been available on DVD from 20th Century Fox as a bit of a special edition since 2001. So I'd figure we could take a quick look at that before while we wait for TT.
Upon my first viewing of this film, years and years ago, I started out fully on board with this picture. The strange opening narration, and the wild and wonderful opening scene of strange savages rushing out to meet a giant, floating stone head that spits rifles at them. This was a heck of an imaginative, crazy film! But then... it quickly got kind of boring, with Connery and exchanging some not particularly intellectually compelling hypothetical philosophy with a bunch of bland people in colorful robes. The addition of John Alderton and Charlotte Rampling to the cast help, but they can only do so much, and their sci-fi futuristic cities amounting to a muddy little Irish village with a few random enhancements is a little disappointing, especially when it's interrupted by an outrageous, interesting scene every so often, making everything else look frumpy.

I think this film is probably more interesting to hear about than to actually see. For every crazy visual, the film languishes about for a long time. Even the big reveal of the title just struck me as underwhelming and contrived (I won't spoil it for anyone, but for those who've seen it: they had to come up with a cover featuring the world's smallest "of" in the world to force that name). And the heady ideas it spends so much time pondering - i.e. do an immortal race of people have a reason to create children, and if not, what becomes of their sexuality? - are so far removed from humanity's current issues that it's not particularly compelling to try and work out the answers. But this film is determined to give you the full lecture, anyway.
The DVD presents the film in its very wide 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which looks as epic as this film was meant to. Still, the colors are a little dull, and it all looks soft and pixelated around the edges. It's anamorphic, but still feels like a pretty old DVD, that could even benefit from an updated DVD transfer, and will surely benefit a lot from the upcoming blu. Unless Twilight Time royally screws up somehow, this should be an easy win for them.
The main extra on this release is an audio commentary by John Boorman. On the one hand, it's quite valuable, because if any film called out for some explanation - either of what the film means or just along the lines of "what on Earth were you thinking?" - it's this one. But, on the other hand, he runs out of things to say very quickly, and a large percentage of his audio track is dead air, which id pretty tedious to sit through. It kind of mirrors the film in that way... some very interesting bits you want to hear, but it's a grind to sift through it all to get to them.

The other extras are a trailer, which is worth checking out to see how such a weirdo film was marketed in 1974. a stills gallery with some interesting promo pics, and a series of radio spots. Those are interesting because they got The Twilight Zone's own Rod Serling to narrate, so don't skip over them. The only other extras are some bonus trailers for Alien Nation, Aliens, Enemy Mine, Independence Day and The Abyss, and a commercial for Fox DVD which plays at the start of the disc.
So, overall, this is an interesting enough film to see once, for sure. But the novelty value doesn't really hold out for the length of the film, and it's not really a genuinely good enough film that I'll be bothering to upgrade to the blu. But for those who are fans of this film, I could see a top notch scan really give this film a boost, so let's hope Twilight Time do it right. And I've just read Twilight Time's announcement that the commentary, trailer and radio spots will be included on their upcoming release, along with a new commentary by film historians Jeff Bond, Joe Fordham, and Nick Redmanand, and as always with TT, the isolated score. So the film's a little questionable, and the DVD was already pretty decent; but it sounds like they're doing it up right for the blu.

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