Conan the Barbarian (1982)

R   |    |  Adventure, Fantasy


Conan the Barbarian (1982) Poster

A young boy, Conan, becomes a slave after his parents are killed and tribe destroyed by a savage warlord and sorcerer, Thulsa Doom. When he grows up he becomes a fearless, invincible fighter. Set free, he plots revenge against Thulsa Doom.

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Reviews & Commentary

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15 April 2012 | dave13-1
7
| Under-appreciated classic
When Conan came out in 1981, critics griped about its elephantine pacing and ponderous dialogue, and long stretches in which nothing much happened, giving evidence that they expected traditional action- adventure in the vein of, say, Sinbad. But director John Milius had set out to create something very different: an epic Aryan myth which translated the qualities of Wagnerian opera to cinema, and in large part he succeeded.

Conan has a sweeping epic feel, and is heavily dependent upon and driven by its setting and music to a degree that is very rare. As important as the deeds of the legendary hero, which are shown in brief and violent spurts of action, are the place and the culture that shaped that legend. The journey that created the myth, in short, is equal to the myth itself, and this is the logic and justification for the setting-heavy approach taken by Milius. And Basil Poledouris' wonderful music, which starts out Wagnerian and brassy, but adds middle Eastern touches as Conan's journey takes him in that direction, tracks along with Conan to show up the breadth of his epic journey while celebrating his heroic achievements.

Ultimately the story that gets told is somewhat less worthy of Milius' Wagnerian ambitions than are the music and the visuals, but the overall results more than justify the effort, especially when compared to the Italian sword and sandal knock-offs which followed this much copied but never equaled classic of the fantasy genre.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Besides the historical Cimmerians and the theories about the descendants, Robert E. Howard likely drew inspiration for Conan and Cimmeria from a description of mythological Cimmerians in the Odyssey by Homer. According to a 19th century translation: "...the deep waters of the river Okeanos, where lie the dêmos and city of the Cimmerians who live enshrouded in mist and darkness which the rays of the sun never pierce neither at his rising nor as he goes down again out of the heavens, but the poor wretches live in one long melancholy night." Which fits with Howard's gloomy depiction of Cimmeria.


Quotes

The Wizard: Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell...


Goofs

When Thulsa Doom fires a snake-arrow at the four riders escaping below, they are riding camera-left to camera-right. A reverse angle shows Valeria reacting as she's struck on her right side. Yet when Conan removes the arrow from her as she's dying on the ground, she's at camera-left, he's at camera-right--and it's obvious he's removing the arrow from her LEFT side.


Crazy Credits

"A SPECIAL THANKS TO ALFREDO"


Alternate Versions

The DVD special edition includes added scenes between Subotai and Conan, the princess makes more of an appearance at the ending when Conan is sitting on the steps thinking, and is with Conan while they infiltrate Thulsa Doom's domain, and Conan and the princess walking towards the sunrise together. There's also a verbal epilogue by Akiro the Wizard at the ending credits.

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Adventure | Fantasy

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