“ Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Fantasy / Theatrical Release: 1982 / Director: John Milius / Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cassandra Gaviola ... / DVD released 25 August, 2003 at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL, Widescreen „
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Conan the Babarian was released back in 1981 and at the time was one of the most eagerly anticipated movies to come out. At the time Arnold Schwarzanegger was a pretty unkown actor that audiences flocked to see as he was new and fresh and a well known bodybuilder. How would he take to the big screen? Well as we all know he has since starred in many many movies.
Obviously Conan the Babarian is not a new idea and the movie is based on the printed books that came to fame in the 1930s. They featured the exploits of a babarian that wandered about getting into adventures a bit like Zena Warrior Princess more recently I guess. They were a fantasy fanatics dream and those same fanatics were no doubt very excited when this came out. I've watched this and although I've never read the books, I found the movie to be highly entertaining and good fun. I really don't think you need to know the books at all to enjoy this.
The movie itself is set many many years ago - 12,000 to be more precise and it was a distant age when sorcerers roamed the earth with their magic spells and monsters stalked the land much like the dinosaurs. It's really like something out of Dungeons and Dragons.
The movie starts off with Conan as a young boy growing up. His happy contented life however with his family is turned upside down though when his village is attacked and ravaged by a warrior and his evil henchmen. Unfortunately in the chaos Conan's father is killed in an attempt to fight back and resist the onslaught. To add insult to injury is mother is also brutally murdered in front of his eyes. It's terrifying for the young Conan as you can imagine and not something that he will get over easily. After this he is put in chains and sold into slavery.
In the years that pass we see Conan treated very poorly and used as a slave and a badly treated workhorse. He grows in size over that time not least due to the amount of labour he has to put in and is huge by the time he becomes and adult. In order to save his own life as he couldn't survive like this forever, he becomes a gladiator and a champion. His owner eventually sets him free fearing his size and that he may turn on him.
On his travels he picks up an accomplice in the form of a man named Subotai played by Gerry Lopez and he heads for civiliazation again after all these years and all the temptations that come with it. As he is not accustomed to this lifestyle he resorts to the rather successful life of a thief and gets tempted into a life of drink and sex.
However, it doesn't take long for the lingering thoughts of revenge in his head to resurface and his mind turns to a quest to find the man that butchered his mother and father all those years ago in front of him. He is determined to hunt him down and make him pay for what he did.
One of the best things about this movie in my opinion, apart from a pretty good showing from the young and unknown actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was the way the direction has made the sets and everything else look like a completely believable fantasy world. This is a must see movie and is great fun and full of action.
Released back in 1982 and directed by John Milius, 'Conan the Barbarian' stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as the empoymous Conan, whose family we see murdered when Conan is still a child by local Warlord Thulsa Doom and his lietenants at the beginning of the film. Conan is plunged into a life of slavery, but he earns himself a new life by virtue of being the only person in his settlement to survive years of backbreaking labour on a man-powered mill known as the Wheel of Pain, and becomes a gladiator, mastering swordsmanship and also educating himself in numerous intellectual disciplines as well.
Conan meets up with two theives, Asian warrior Subotai (Gerry Lopez) and female archer Valeria (Sandahl Bergman), who set about robbing the temple of a growing apocalyptic cult linked to warlord Thulsa Doom, before Conan goes on to seek out the man responsible for the death of his family in order to extract brual vengeance upon him.
Schwarzenegger is perfectly cast as Conan, with his impressive physical appearance and mixture of muted persona and understated intelligence, and the film is beautifully shot, with a dramatic and artistic flair that is totally in keeping with the epic nature of the tale being told, as is the grandiose and fantastical musical score. The fight scenes are well choreographed , whilst the ambitious sets and the detailed matte-painted backdrops and painstakingly hand-painted special effects all look great too. The plot is an engaging and absorbing sword-and sworcery yarn, but there are some great comedic moments too, such as when Arnie gets blind drunk and punches out a camel for no particular reason.
James Earl Jones is excellent as the shapeshifting sorceror Thulsa Doom, and the film draws to a powerful and dramatic close in the form of a showdown between the two central characters at Doom's imposing pagan temple.
A beautiful and well-executed film, with an epic plot and plenty of hugely entertaining fantasy action throughout.
This film sees Arnold Schwarzenegger take on the role of Conan.
The film starts with Conan as a child, his father is teaching him about life and how man obtained the secret of fire and steele. Raiders attack his village and Conan, along with the other children, is taken and placed into slavery. Many years pass and Conan, eventually the only member of his village left alive, is sold on into being a gladiator, where he learns how to fight. Eventually Conan is freed and becomes a theif and wishes to seek revenge on the leader of the snake cult, Thulsa Doom.
This film feels quite epic and is very long, with very gritty and realistic fight sequences. Being an Arnie film it's a bit light on the vocal side, but he does pull it off and, I thought, really suited the role. Much like his role as the Terminator, the part just makes him seem to be more brooding and, in a strange way, thoughtful. Arnie manages to portray Conan as an intellectual rather than a brutish savage who only knows how to whack things. Throughout the film you get the feeling that Conan is constantly planning something. The other actors, particularly James Earl Jones, are superb and really suit their roles. However, I do think that the film is far more of a 'lads' film and an aquiredf taste. Altogether a good, old fashioned sword and sorcery film.
In 1982, internationally celebrated strongman and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger burst onto the big screen with his portrayal as the title role in Conan The Barbarian, a film directed by John Milius. Arnie, as he has become better known, had appeared in a few films already, but this is considered to be his breakthrough film.
As a child, Conan witnesses the vicious killings of his family and clansmen at the hands of a vicious warlord who is controlling of his people and of all the land, Thulsa Doom. Years later, following a childhood of slavery, Conan finds himself as a champion gladiator, and sets his life to finding Doom and exacting his revenge. He teams up with Valeria and Subotai, two thieves, in taking on Doom, his lieutenants and his fearsome warriors, the Vanir, with the blessing and aid of King Osric and the wizard Akiro.
The Cast and Performances
Arnie here plays the silent but deadly built like a wall Conan. The part requires little vocal acting, more of a physical presence and believable action scenes, and he does this perfectly. As a point of note, there is one scene where Conan is standing on a rock precipice practicing by brandishing his sword in controlled fight movements. This is highly skillful, and a testament to the dedication Arnie displays in many of his performances.
Sandahl Bergman is sassy as the warrior Conan falls for, Valeria, and Gerry Lopez does very well as the haunting thief Subotai. Max Von Sydow turns in a small but effective role as King Osric, and Mako is extremely believable as Akiro the wizard. James Earl Jones plays villain Thulsa Doom with great fear and anger eminating from his character - excellent.
The remainder of the cast support the leads very well, particularly Ben Davidson as one of Doom's lieutenants, Rexor.
I remember watching this when I was younger, probably a lot younger than the 18 certificate it is given, and not quite understanding it. The film is set very much in a Bronze Age type era, with some sorcery thrown in for good measure throughout the film. I found this entrancing when I rewatched it when I was old enough to understand the film.
Director John Milius has done very well considering there is no need for much dialogue in the film. Just as well, considering Arnie's lack of English vocab at the time. But the actions speak louder than words in this film as the tale of revenge follows its natural course smoothly towards the end.
The film does lack a little pizzazz, and is more of an artistic and cult film, with the scenery and sorcery featured heavily in the tale, as well as the swordsmanship from the characters and the sinister soundtrack. I enjoyed this immensely when I finally understood it all. There is some good acting here mixed in amongst all the bravado and blood spilling.
Breakthrough role for Arnie is a very good film.
The DVD is available from amazon.co.uk for £3.98.
This review may also be posted on ciao.co.uk.
Thanks for reading.
Schwarzenegger's first starring role and for me, his greatest. As large portions of this film are intentionally without any speech at all, it is the power and look of Conan that could not be matched by anyone else other than Arnie. Conan's nemesis Thulsa Doom is also played excellently by James Earl Jones, whose character is much more about speech, and as such the two main stars of this film are perfectly cast. Talking about the film itself, I found Conan surprisingly enjoyable, as I'd always assumed it was simply a film for boring people or those who liked to look at flexing, sweaty men, and it has possibly the most endruing, re-watchable quality of any film I have seen. Many a Friday night have been made perfection thanks to Sky Moviemax 4 playing Conan for a number of weeks in a row around my friend's house, rounded off with some late night online Diablo II. (For more information on these perfect nights, see my Diablo II review). Each scene is relevant and enjoyable, and while there are ineviotably parts of the film that I like more than others, even the in-between sections are enjoyable. As I said, the cast are excellent, even those actors who obviously have less experience but still suit their parts perfectly, the 'sword and sorcery romp' is unbeatable for its genre, and the all-important musical score by Basil Poledouris, important as it is the only sound in some scenes, is equally perfect. The story is basically that of a young boy (Conan) whose parents are killed by warriors bearing the sign of a serpent, who is taken from his home in the north to be raised as a slave and, ultimately, a gladiator. When he is set free, "like a wild animal that had been kept too long" according to Akero the narrator, he begins to live the life of a thief before being sent on a quest to rescue King Osric's daughter from the same snake cult that killed Conan's parents. There is plenty of action, a sweaty sex scene that
shows boobies for people whose enjoyment of films may be based around these, and also a healthy dose of comedy. Overall, Conan stands out from all the other action-fantasy films of the era and beyond thanks to the way it is kept to the original vision of Conan comic book creator Robert E. Howard; not over the top with magic, more concerned with strength and emotions. This is certainly a film that deserves a watch even if, like me, you would not have expected to have liked it. No other film has utilised Schwarzenegger's talents so much, and no other role has been "made for him" like this one. Concerning the DVD, the picture quality is great, but on both my DVD and that of my friend, a lot of the movement goes very fuzzy which makes it less enjoyable. The music and sounds can be heard perfectly, and the extras on this "Special Edition" are also very worthy of the film, and were made specially for this release. "Conan Unchained" is a very interesting look behind the creation of the film, and also gives memorable insights into the somewhat insane mind of the original Conan creator. Everyone in and behind the film is given their due credit. The audio commentary is also very useful and different for when one has watched the film many times, while the inclusion of deleted scenes, trailers and special effects shots give you something to do when you've got a few minutes to kill. It would be hard to improve this DVD, escept for the picture quality. I don't know how exactly to recommend Conan as I know for a fact it would not appeal to everyone, but if you are a fan of fantasy in general, or possibly action, you should find it an enjoyable watch, and will certainly be able to see why this deserves to be Arnold Schwarzenegger's finest hour (well, 119 minutes). A very, very quotable film!
"What is best in life, Conan?" "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women." Back in the Dark Ages (1982), Conan The Barbarian was one of the most eagerly awaited of films. Fantasy obsessives like myself were particularly keen to flock to the cinema. We were anxious to discover whether the dreamweavers at Universal Studios and an unknown actor, but well know bodybuilder, by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger would do our hero justice on the big screen. Conan has been around in print for a long time. He was the 1930s creation of author Robert E. Howard. Howard published 18 stories featuring the exploits of the wandering barbarian that would one day be king. These stories, and numerous spin-off comic series, were enjoyed by several generations of fantasy aficionados, including myself. Would Conan The Barbarian, the movie, cut the mustard? (I've never used that expression before) Keep reading and find out! As a side note, it must be mentioned that Conan The Barbarian is designed to be enjoyed by those unfamiliar with Conan, as well as the fans of Howard's stories. The Conan layperson doesn't miss a beat. They get the full ride. Conan The Barbarian is set 12,000 years ago, in an age when sorcery was real, monsters plagued the land, and men were men. As the movie's introduction explains, "between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of... Hither came Conan." You get the picture! It's a setting that Dungeons & Dragons dreams are made of. The movie begins with Conan as a young boy. At a blacksmith's forge, his father is explaining to him the 'riddle of steel'. It's shortly after this warm moment with his Dad that Conan's world is turned upside down. His village is mercilessly sacked by a w <
br>arrior/sorcerer, Thulsa Doom, (James Earl Jones) and his henchmen, all of which sport Iron Maiden haircuts. Conan's father is slain resisting, and his mother is decapitated in front of the youngster. It's a terrifying day for Conan. One that sees him end up in chains and sold into slavery. The years ahead see Conan as a brutally oppressed workhorse. As he reaches adulthood, and an enormous size, he's thrust into the fighting pits. To save his own life, Conan learns the vicious game and rises to become a gladiatorial champion. After a brief stint siring new slave stock, his owner, fearing Conan's considerable size and skills as a killer, eventually sets him free. After picking up a sidekick named Subotai (Gerry Lopez), Conan heads for the temptations of civilization. In the city of Zamora, our barbarian friend meets a beautiful thief by the name of Valeria. One thing leads to another and Conan finds himself living the lucrative life of a successful thief and as Valeria's lover. It doesn't take long, however, for the joys of gold, drink, and sex to wear thin on Conan. The fires of revenge begin to burn. After receiving information regarding the whereabouts of one Thulsa Doom, Conan drops everything and the quest for the man who took the lives of his parents and sold him into slavery begins. Horrors lie ahead, but Conan is determined to end the life of Doom. How does he confront the evil sorcerer? You?ll have to watch the movie. Director John Milius succeeds brilliantly in creating a fascinating and believable fantasy world. For the most, he's employed a minimum of prone-to-aging special effects, and has instead utilized spectacular settings. The architecture, costumes, and weaponry have the right look for the era. It's easy to imagine that Conan's world is one where magic, monsters, and heroic battles take place. Conan The Barbarian did not collect a bag load of Oscars for its act
ing talent. That becomes apparent quickly. However, there are some pleasant exceptions. Despite Arnie's limited acting ability (it hasn't changed since!) he's actually well suited to the character of Conan. He's meant to be a non-talkative brute. The other notable mention is, of course, James Earl Jones, as the evil Thulsa Doom. A younger Jones than we're used to has an amazing on-screen presence to match that commanding voice. Conan The Barbarian is not Hercules or Xena (Warrior Princess!). It's not a bloodless adventure for the kids or a fairy tale with a moral to the story. It's a story that feeds on raw themes. It's all about power, revenge, and ruthlessness. There isn't an excess of gore involved, but it does earn its R rating for the sex and violence on show. To sum it up, this is probably the best fantasy film ever made, from the point of view of an adult. It's a powerful movie that grabs you from the Nietzsche quote at the beginning to exciting end. It has a feel that needs to be experienced to be understood. Personally, it makes me feel like eating half-cooked meat around a roaring campfire, and boasting of my conquests! "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger." - Friedrich Nietzsche
It is always the most innocuous movies which have the most interesting histories. I was but a young lad when this movie was released and therefore much of the kerfuffle surrounding it went over my head - indeed, movies which had anything other than Disney stamped on them were probably of very little interest to me at the time. Some years later however, Conan The Barbarian is still a name which you will hear mentioned in movie conversations and still a movie you'll find lurking in video collections alongside some of the greats. Other than being one of Arnold Schwarzennegar's first movies I didn't see that there was anything else to be interested in, as a result, it was a long time before I finally succumbed and checked out what all the fuss was about. It is odd that a movie set in mythological times would have a mythology surrounding it to rival even its own storyline. The original comic book stories from which this story came were written in the 1930s by Robert E. Howard, a man who himself built himself up from scrawny runt to bodybuilding colossus whilst writing them. Shortly after his 30th birthday, in 1936, he blew his brains out with a shotgun, but the popularity of his stories had already been established and would continue to enthral readers for many years after that tragic event. His original stories appeared in the magazine Weird Tales, 18 of them reaching publication and several left unfinished or unsubmitted due to his untimely demise and were only really remembered by hardcore fans until two of those fans, Howard, L. Sprague De Camp, and Lin Carter, set about reviving his work in the mid 1960s. These two were to collect together Howard's work, complete the unfinished stories and write more of their own to fill in the gaps in Conan's life, the result being a set of 12 novels which has never been out of print since. No doubt the popularity of these was buoyed by the massive interest in the fantasy genre as a
whole kindled by the hugely popular Dungeons & Dragons franchise in the 70s and 80s which hasn't really waned since, just spread itself around the sword and sourcery genre. Undoubtedly, it was the Dungeons & Dragons phenomenon rather than the COnan stories themselves which led to directors and movie studios looking around for something to bring to the silver screen to cash-in on the completist nature of fans and all those being sucked in by the magic of fantasy roleplaying. 50 years after the stories first appeared, the exploits of Conan were seen to be just the kind of material for this kind of movie. With a script co-written by Oliver Stone and set to be directed by John Milius, it looked like a certain winner too but Milius departed to work on another project(Big Wednesday) before filming started and a bunch of other names came into the mix instead. Notably the likes of Ridley Scott and Ralph Bakshi were touted as being interested in taking up the helm, but having looked at the screenplay these too were to turn down the project. The whole thing was shelved until 1981 when Milius finished his surf opus and returned to pick up where he left off... During that time the search for a lead character had been going on. The movie's producer Dino De Laurentiis had already met up with a certain Austrian body builder by the name of Arnold Schwarzeneggar when casting for the Flash Gordon movie a few years previously. At the time he had dismissed Arnold offhand after a screen test lasting just 1 minute 40 seconds, just long enough for the following exchange between the two: "You have an accent! I cannot use you for Flash-a-Gordon! Flash-a-Gordon has no accent!" to which Arnie replied "I have an accent? I can't even understand you!" before being shown the door. Not the most auspicious of first meetings though, but when a character like Conan came along De Laurentiis immediately tho
ught of Schwarzeneggar - well, he hardly had to sound like the all-American hero here now did he! Ironically, having cast Arnie in the lead role, De Laurentiis' initial fears were to prove well grounded when much of the big Austrian's speech was found to be unintelligible and cut from the movie and other parts dubbed so that audiences would at least be able to understand him - and irony upon irony, the actor they did end up casting for the role of Flash Gordon(Sam J Jones) had his entire part dubbed by another more macho sounding actor. Meantime, suspecting a big cash-in to be made on spin-off products, the rights to make Conan action figures and suchlike were sold before the project had even really begun production. Mattel were to buy the rights to make Conan dolls for kids to re-enact the scenes from the movie. Of course what Mattel hadn't actually bargained for was that director Milius would actually take the project very seriously indeed, producing a blood soaked 18 rated kill-fest, which was hardly the kind of thing they could possibly market to children. Stuck then with hundreds of thousands of Arnie replicas Mattel had something of a problem. But not a company to be foiled by such a little problem(!) they did a little revamping and so was born the muscle bound do-gooder He-Man... In 1981 filming for the movie began in earnest, most surprisingly of all being the way Milius took what would in any other director's hands have been a campy, tongue-in-cheek sword and sorcery caper and turning it instead into a very adult orientated serious endeavour. Rather than concentrating on just one of the Conan stories, Stone and Milius took elements from several, whilst managing to avoid taking too many liberties in combining these together. They were also to work solely from the author's original works, most notably taking elements from "The Thing in the Crypt", "The Elephant Tower", "Queen of the Black Coast&q
uot;, and "A Witch Shall Be Born.", which is to take nothing away from the sterling work put in by Sprague De Camp and Carter but instead pays homage to the original creator of Conan. The story they created is a simple one, played across three distinct acts but the execution is wonderful, if perhaps only because it is played so seriously for once. The story takes place 12,000 years ago, in a land of myth, where men have bulging biceps, women have even more bulging bosoms, magic works, monsters roam the earth and the occasional god might be seen to stroll past occasionally as well. Such is the land into which Conan as born and which will prove to be harsh and lawless. We begin the story in Conan's village, with him as a young boy(played by George Sanz) learning the ways of his peasant people. Its not long before the evil wizard Thusla Doom(James Earl Jones) has ordered an attack on his village lead by his chief henchman Rexor(Ben Davidson) and Conan is clapped in chains and sold to slave traders. His mother and father are killed and Conan is set for a life in irons. Conan is worked hard as a slave and grows to enormous physical proportions because of it. His size and strength doesn't go unnoticed either and he is soon purchased to train as a gladiator where he both thrills the crowds and terrorises the arena with his awesome strength and skills. Pretty soon though his owner realises that to keep a man like this in chains is somewhat wishful thinking and its only a matter of time before he'll break out of them and cut a bloody swathe to freedom. Fearing this event he releases Conan into the big wide world...and its not long before the big city becomes too much of a draw to be ignored. Here he meets up with the queen of the thieves and after various exploits begins to get an itchy palms...the only thing which will sate the itching being the satisfaction of crushing a certain wizard's neck between them... I'm s
ure it doesn't take a genius to imagine that this is a very violent and bloody sword and sorcery type romp. Where Milius could have opted for campness, he has instead chosen the much more fulfilling path of raw power and action with Arnie crushing more than a few skulls on his way to the inevitable showdown with the wizard who sold him into slavery and slaughtered his village. Brutal and bloody it may be, but it is not without other charms. The way in which the fantasy landscape has been created is simple perfect. Naturally, its no Lord Of The Rings, we are talking a vastly smaller budget here, but the landscapes and costumes are still wonderfully realised and stand as the perfect canvas for Arnie to paint with bloody hues. Perfect too is the musical score, which apparently was a bone of contention between director and producer. The resulting choral/orchestral accompaniment which is so perfectly utilised to accent the grand, larger-than-life nature of the proceedings is the result of Milius pulling rank - otherwise we'd be forced to sit through De Laurntiis' preference for a Euro-pop soundtrack...hmmm. As it stands, the music is stirring and rousing, adding much to set the scene and drag the viewer into the pure fantasy of it all. One of Conan's undeniable weak points would of course be the acting. No one could ever even begin to deny that Arnie isn't the best actor in the world, not even today after over 20 years in the business and back then he was barely intelligible when he spoke either! Strangely though, he is pretty well utilised here, Milius not asking him to do anything outside of his range - just to flex his muscles, look good when crushing skulls and grunt a few lines of dialogue(re-dubbed later so we could actually understand them). Interestingly, Schwarzeneggar was told to model his part on that of Charlton Heston in the likes of The Greatest Story Ever Told where he plays John The Baptist...I'll leave it to you to decide
whether he managed this larger than life screen presence. This would prove to be his breakthrough movie, 2 years later of course would see him starring in the blockbuster movie The Terminator, whereas previous to this he was relegated to cheesy low budget tripe. Other actors of real note are Max Von Sydow(looking rather oddly at home here) and James Earl Jones who plays his part well, but just doesn't seem quite evil enough for the part he has been given. Something more of an over-the-top performance would have worked a little better in my eyes. The rest of the cast are quite uniformly bad, made up of those there for comic relief and other people known for things other than their acting abilities such as Sandahl Bergman, who plays queen of the thieves and Conan's lover, undeniably chosen for looking good in(and out) of tight leather. Of course, thats not such a bad thing... Ultimately as well, some people may have a harm time dealing with what are quite dated looking special effects in some cases. As I said, the scenery looks good, the costumes authentic and the fantasy landscape is well presented but when it comes down to the 'money shots' its beginning to look rather lacking. Conan never had a huge budget in the first place and certain scenes probably weren't fooling anyone even back in the time it was released. I defy anyone not to be looking for the 'Made In Taiwan' tag during the fight scene with the giant snake for instance! Its certainly no Lord Of The Rings and for those who have been spoiled by the $300 million budgets of such movies his may require a suspension of disbelief far in excess of what they are capable of. If you are one of those people then think about knocking one or two stars off the final rating. When it was released Conan The Barbarian was one of the most eagerly awaited movies of its time. The reasons for its success are no doubt much to do with the era it was released in and that tho
se which have followed in the fantasy vein haven't really lived up to their billing. For me, this is because most directors just can't seem to steer away from the easy road to campness, or the monetary lure that reaching the lower age restrictions brings when making a fantasy movie. Conan The Barbarian is undoubtedly a movie made for adults not children and the violent, bloody fantasy world it depicts as opposed to one populated by cute beasties straight out of Jim Henson's puppet workshop may not therefore be to everyone's taste. If you can deal with the blood and the somewhat less than special effects then it still stands as one of the best fantasy movies ever made. Definitely worth checking out anyway, although its sequels are nothing much to shout about unfortunately.
Arnie Schwarzenegger, the Austrian who was formerly a Mr Universe, and has latterly reinvented himself as an astute, naturalised American who intends to run for government, has always been a helpless victim of the stereotyping producer/director/scriptwriter and is famed for his musclebound roles as Arnie Nice But Dim While Still Terribly Powerful. Much of that dreadful curse was ignited by Mr Muscles' appearance in the title role in the ultimate sword and sorcery epic Conan The Barbarian. It took years for Herr Schwarzkopf to outgrow the fearsome warrior garments to move on to light comedy which he proved himself able to play with a rare panache in stuff like Kindergarten Cop and Twins. He had to go via films such as Running Man, Total Recall and Terminator to get there, of course, but proved with his epic appearance in True Lies that he is at his best when he gets a part which allows him to embrace a combination of action, adventure and laughs. Strangely, beneath its overly po faced exterior, Conan The Barbarian was just such a flick because even though it had an abundance of braindead muscle flexing, it was so farcical and laughable that it bordered on spoofdom. It wasn't intended to be that way, however, because the film was planned as a straightfaced adaptation of Robert E Howard's stories about the Barbarian warrior which also spawned a Marvel comic strip some 30 years or so ago. However, you get so many ludicrous moments in this film that you can't possibly take it TOO seriously. For instance, Arnie consults a witchy woman for a clue as to his quest, and resorts in a bit of making the beast with two backs, only for her to come over frightfully unnecessary, disappear into the fire and go shooting off across the heavens like a blazing comet - just the sort of impact my amorous approaches have on the delightful Mrs D, except she just blows up and gives me a nasty clip round the ear. Similarly, Our Arn's
wide eyed stance when he finds the treasure in the tower of the snake and then plunges his pen knife into the throat of one of the most rubbery looking giant reptiles you have ever seen, also provokes huge yucks rather than a chill in your bones or admiration at his acting range. Of course, you can enjoy Conan The Barbarian as a glorious, rip roaring action adventure of the old school. There's plenty of thrills here, but I just find it impossible to take seriously and if you enjoy unintentional laughs, you'll have a grand old time. Check out Arnie when he gets as pissed as a newt at one stage and his helplessly Neanderthal attempts at foreplay, if you want some more clues as to the reasons. Mr Subtle he ain't, even though he showed with True Lies that he could be with the right material. Here, however, he was just a badly paid male prostitute with enormous tits and exceedingly nice hair, parading his abnormally large pecs in a flagrant and gratuitous nod in the direction of the very soft core porn flick. Or you could try and check out Arnie running through his full range of emotions - quizzical, puzzled, angry, earnest, joyous, saddened, jealous, tired - the odd thing is that they all look the same and you don't even get the Roger Moore raised eyebrow variation to give you a clue... Or you could meet Arnie's amusing band of supporters, like the sub-Yul Brynner wizard who is rascally but well meaning and has one of the naffest droopy but wispy taches and cases of over acting you are EVER likely to stumble across. Bet he's never been in Macbeth... Or observe Arnie's wonderful masquerading as a peace loving hippie with a bunch of flowers as he attempts to infiltrate the Snake Cult...Nice robes, Arnold, but watch out for the gayboy Priest who gave you his duds ... you showed him what for (in a completely non homophobic way, of course). Hare Krishna, here we come. You even get Arnie a
s a fearsome Jesus Christ when he gets crucified, at least until he bites the vulture's head off... However, the film is intended to be very serious and kicks off with Arnie as a titchy little weakling kid who sees his entire race wiped out by a bunch of horsemen in very big hats with enormous horns and the symbol of the two snakes wrapped around each other. It even boasts a cameo appearance by such an eminent ACTOR as Max von Sydow as an elderly King whose daughter has been seduced by the cult of the snake - The Moonies they ain't and their flat nosed leader (played by James Earl Jones) has one of the naffest pudding bowl mullets you are ever likely to see anywhere. Still it's better than being the voice of The Lion King's Dad in Disney's sentimental rubbish about the Circle of Life and that mushy trash from Elton John - Saturday Night'sAlright For Fighting? More like, Tuesday Night's alright for making vast sums from the kids for peddling blandorama and working with old baldie Collins, but that's one for another day.... Let's not take the rise too much, though, because Conan The Barbarian remains a classic of the genre and is nothing if not the greatest fun. It also never quite plumbed the appalling depths of Red Sonja with Brigitte Nielsen... Also, Conan is one of those cult things that you find on the net - check out this quote which I found on the website, The Hyborian Age of Conan (http://www.dodgenet.com/~moonblossom/hyborian.htm) "Know, O Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars - Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded
tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the earth under his sandled feet." Clearly this stuff means more than life or death to some people. The films mean less than zero to them too, so I guess you shouldn?t take Raffaella De Laurentiis? 1982 film too seriously, even if Oliver Stone helped write the screenplay. However, it is a reasonably enjoyable way of spending a couple of hours...
This is a riproaring tale of a warrior orphan who is taken ito slavery, and trained as a barbarian gladiator, and his search for revenge against the man who slaughtered his people. This is the one film, where i feel Arnold Schwarzennegar is perfecly cast. He started out as a muscle man, and this role as the orphaned outsider barbarian is his best. Conan is not a perfect film, the acting isn't great, and some of the sets (and mythical Beasts) are blatantly made of rubber, but Arnie makes you forgive all that, with his mighty battles, and brooding power. You find yourself drawn in to his struggle and feel the satisfaction when those who stand in his way meet a bloody death on the end of his mighty broadsword. to truly apreciate this film it helps to have grown up in the 80's watching such classics of fantasy sci-fi as Beast Master, Red sonia, and Legend. These are prime examples of how fantasy should be handled. Fans of these films are willing to accept as read, the presence of magic, mythical beasts, evil priests and hero's, whose deeds are as legendary as there honour and Strength. This helps as the film makers can dispence with all the scene setting and background in the opening 10 minutes (as is perfectly shown in Conan the Barbarian) and get on with telling the tale of the lone warrior battling the evil forces, and having high adventure along the way.
This is my favourite film of all time, and it was a great day for me when I found out it was being re-released as a special collectors edition on DVD (albeit only Region 1 at the moment). There has been a long tradition of trying to turn comic book super heroes into film’s, and most seem to fail miserably and lose the essence of the original, in the case of Conan The Barbarian it has been a resounding success n translating the original story to the silver screen and it really does the Legacy of Robert E. Howard justice. ***This is a complete update (and addition to my original opinion, which also has a partial re-write - I have left the orignal as is at the bottom of this one), as it is now in the DVD section and the original one just reviewed the film – I hope you enjoy it*** The picture is superb and it looks as if they have used the best print available and is very clean (I’ve seen things I never even noticed when watching it on VHS), and it is also anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1). The sound is still mono, but this doesn’t detract from the film at all, and the sword clashes sound as clear as ever, and with the powerful musical score (think Old Spice advert!) written by Basil Poledouris, that is so well suited to this film only adding to the impact and assault on the aural and visual senses (sorry if I am going over the top here, but I love this film!). The film itself chronicles the early life of Conan, a Cimmerian brought up in the mountainous north of his land. It follows him from childhood, when his family and village are wiped out by raiders and he is sold into slavery, through to his winning his freedom in the gladiatorial pit and his search for the men responsible for his fate and him exacting his revenge. The story draws from the Conan stories written by his creator Robert E. Howard and is very faithful to the original vision, and Arnold Swarzenegger is particularly well suited to this role as
he bears an uncanny likeness to all the drawings of Conan. This is the film that launched him to international stardom. The DVD has a wealth of extras that improve an already special film (for me anyway). What makes this an extra special package is the fact that the producers haven’t just cobbled together programs and features made at the time to promote the film, they have actually filmed new ones especially for this disc. They consist of: Conan Unchained: The Making of Conan This is a newly filmed feature (in widescreen as well!) that chronicles the making of the Conan film from start to finish and rather than being made just to promote the film, it is a genuine attempt to tell how the film was made. It runs for over 50 minutes and contains interviews with all the main actors – Conan/Arnold Swarzeneggar, Valeria/Sandahl Bergman, Subotai/Gerry Lopez, Thulsa Doom/James Earl Jones, King Osric/Max Von Sydow, Mako/The Wizard, the director/writer John Milius, writer Oliver Stone, Dino De Laurentiis the Producer and his daughter Raffaella plus too many others to list. One of the highlights being Arnolds account of the scene where he is chased by the wolves and they actually caught him, pulled him down and bit him. Everybody sounds extremely enthusiastic about the film and pleased to have been involved with it and it is a joy to watch and extremely informative (make sure you watch past the credits). In fact, an excellent job has been done getting the original cast together like this for a nearly twenty year old film that wasn’t exactly a blockbuster in the truest sense of the word (like Jaws, Close Encounters, Star Wars etc), and it is a fascinating and interesting documentary about the film, and as I true fan I really appreciate the effort put into this feature. Subjects that are discussed include how they tried to keep to the original vision of Conan’s world envisioned by the late Ro
bert E. Howard, the casting of the actors for the main parts and why they were perfect for it, how they prepared, trained and played the parts, the special effects (like the Tree of Woe and the Great Wheel at the start), some of the stunts (and there are some truly superbly choreographed sword-fighting scenes) and of course - the snakes. Feature Commentary with John Milius and Arnold Swarzenegger An interesting and sometimes humorous commentary from the director and main star of the film, giving some insight into the scenes and lesser-known actors in the film and divulging a lot of background information on the film not covered by the documentary – well worth a listen. Deleted Scenes A selection of deleted and unfinished scenes that were left out of the final cut for various reasons (that are explained) and although it is great to see them, losing them from the film was no great loss. Special Effects This shows the scene where Valeria and Subotai are trying to save Conan from the spirits and is presented in split screen, with the top half showing the actors only and the bottom half showing the effects that are added. The Conan Archives A slideshow gallery showing production drawings, behind the scenes photo’s, some original Conan artwork and the main actors in costume from the film. Theatrical Trailers A couple of the original theatrical trailers for the film. Production Notes A few text pages of the history of Conan, and the making of the film with added information on locations and set designs and sizes. Cast and Filmmakers A biography and filmography of the main cast and crew of the film, that seems as up to date as it could be (even including Arnies latest film The Sixth Day in the list). Web Links Internet links to some Conan sites and the Universal home page. And best of all; It is an
extended version with additional footage, that has not been seen in this country before (and I have seen the rental tape, all sell through versions and showings on TV). This additional footage is at the end of the film and shows Conan fighting his way up through the Temple to find Thulsa Doom with the help of the Princess that he had previously rescued. The normal version just shows Conan appearing behind Thulsa Doom at the top of the Temple steps. Nb. This bit refers to the end of the film after the battle among standing stones. If you are a fan of Conan (be it the film(s) or the novels) then you must have this disc in your collection, if not, then watch it anyway, as it is a very good sword and sorcery film with plenty of action and adventure that is never boring. I realise that in writing this, I have probably been over-enthusiastic, but as a life-long fan of Conan and having read all the novels, perhaps you can understand. ORIGINAL OPINION: This is my favourite film of all time, and it was a great day for me when I found out it was being re-released as a special collectors edition on DVD (albeit only Region 1 at the moment). The DVD has a wealth of extras including a new making of documentary, a commentary track by the director and Arnold Swarzenegger, some outtakes, deleted scenes, drawings and best of all an extended ending. The picture is superb and it looks as if they have used the best print available and is very clean (I’ve seen things I never even noticed when watching it on VHS), and it is also anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1). The sound is still mono, but this doesn’t detract from the film at all, and the musical score is still as powerful as ever (think Old Spice advert!) and well suited to this film. The film itself chronicles the early life of Conan, a Cimmerian brought up in the mountainous north of his land. It follows him from childhood, when his family and villag
e are wiped out by raiders and he is sold into slavery, through to his winning his freedom in the gladiatorial pit and his search for the men responsible for his fate and him exacting his revenge. The story draws from the Conan stories written by his creator Robert E. Howard and is very faithful to the original vision, and Arnold Swarzenegger is particularly well suited to this role as he bears an uncanny likeness to all the drawings of Conan. This is the film that launched him to international stardom. If you are a fan of Conan then you must have this disc, if not then watch it anyway, as it is a very good sword and sorcery film with plenty of action and adventure that is never boring.
It is a great disappointment when a movie diector decides he or she can completely change a story from the way it was written. This sort of professional arrogance usually messes up the story and turns people away from the books. Conan the Barbarian as a movie portrays the big guy exactly the way you would imagine him. Conan was a foreigner, so Arnold's accent didn't get in the way here. There's action, blood, adventure, and a whole lot of excitement. You see Conan becoming a man and then hunting down the man who killed him family and slaughtered his village. Predictable story, but what a ride.
The first real film starring the incredible Arnold Schwarzenegger, Conan the Barbarian is a fantastic tale od warriors, wizardry and some dude who fancies snakes. James Earl Jones is excellently cast as the evil Thulsa Doom, and adds more than a hint of respectability to the film. Arnie himself plays Conan (obviously!) an orphan whose parents were killed by the aforementioned Thulsa Doom who then sold him into slavery. Conan's master uses him as a Gladiator - and he begins to realise his own sense of worth as he learns to fight. Before long (about 5 mins on screen) Conan is now the mightiest barbarian around, he now spends the rest of teh films beating people up and having sex with various young ladies. Wahey! Yeah buy it, it's a good laugh, just don't take it seriously!
This is the movie that made Arnold famous. Not that I didn't know of him, I was already a huge fan. You couldn't help but admire the guy. He was FABULOUS. After making some klunkers like "Hercules in New York", "Stay Hungry", "Pumping Iron", "The villian", "Scavenger Hunt" and "The Jayne Mansfield Story" (all of which I used to own), he got his big break in 1982 with this movie - "Conan the Barbarian". It was like he was born for this role. He was handsome, muscle-bound, Germanic and had the presence of a nordic god. He also had a wicked sense of humor which came through in his acting. He actually had to tone down his workout while making this movie as his arm and chest muscles were so big that he couldn't wield his sword properly. This movie begins with the slaughter of Conan's village when he is a small boy of about ten. He witnesses the death of his mother at the hands of Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) and is captured and lives as a slave. The grueling torture and hard work pay off, making him into a mighty barbarian warrior. The only thing he can think of is some day being able to avenge his parent's deaths and kill Thulsa Doom. The day comes when he is free and he starts his search for Thulsa Doom to take his revenge. On his way he meets two people who help him in his journey; Subotai and Valeria. They earn his trust and become his close friends and, of course, eventually he falls in love with the beautiful Valeria. Over the years Thulsa Doom has become the high priest of a snake cult and a wicked sorcerer. Conan and his team must be very clever and brave to attempt entering the Temple. Once they enter they find that there is cannibalism being practiced and butchered corpses are everywhere and huge kettles of human stew are being prepared. This is where I'll end my tale. This movie is b
ased on the stories of Robert E. Howard and I think it was an excellent job translating it from comic books to the screen. I truly believe that this is the best action, fantasy, adventure movie of all time and one that all others are compared against. So, if you like lots of non-stop action, get this movie.
The film that made Arnold Schwarzenegger and internetional star. He plays a barbarian from the dark ages seeking revenge on the tribal leader who killed his parents. Violent, lusty stuff with Arnie doing what he does best - he looks strong and tough but you couldn't really say he acts. Mind you, he still hasn't quite got the hang of that now! However this film is a must see for all since it is a classic and any of Arnies fans should really see the film that made Arnie.
The film that launched Arnold Schwarzenegger's international career, Conan the Barbarian is still regarded by many as his finest hour. Limited to a mere handful of lines and expertly directed to play up the Nietzschean strength of the character by John Milius, the Austrian Oak has never looked more suited to a role, his muscle flexing and sword twirling apparently effortless. The extraordinarily finely detailed production design ensures that the barren Spanish countryside perfectly suits the Hyborean-era backdrop envisioned by author Robert E Howard. Whether dressed in rags or riches, Schwarzenegger and companions Subotai (Gerry Lopez) and Valeria (Sandahl Bergman) look believably born to their surroundings. Backing their own very fine performances are brilliant supporting roles from James Earl Jones as serpentine baddie Thulsa Doom and Max Von Sydow as doomed King Osric. Plot-wise the film is simply the transformation of a wild barbarian into a worldly-wise king who, via a quest for revenge, finally learns the riddle of steel. The script is highly regarded for its dazzling set-pieces (the opening village raid, the orgy of body parts) and quotable dialogue ("They shall all drown in lakes of blood"), and it comes complete with an anti-peace movement reactionary subtext for anyone who cares to look close enough. One other element deserving mention is the extraordinary score by Basil Poledouris, which inspires the film with a sense of operatic grandeur. On the DVD: Conan the Barbarian appears as a suitably mythic special edition DVD. Sadly the magnificent score can only be heard in a mono mix, but the very fine picture is presented in 2.35:1. The extras package is phenomenal, too. Several deleted scenes have been re-edited into the film, but are available to view independently as well. There's a quick split-screen special effects feature showing how the ghostly spirits were added to Conan's resurrection. "The Conan Archives" is an 11-minute slide show of drawings, costumes and advertising. Best of all is the fantastic 53-minute "Conan Unchained" documentary interviewing every conceivable contributor who all reminisce with great fondness. It's slightly better seeing Schwarzenegger and Milius than hearing them talk in their commentary, which inevitably re-tells many of the same anecdotes in between puffs of Arnie's stogies. --Paul Tonks