Conan the Barbarian is based on the book by Robert E. Howard of the same title name. It is about how one of the last descendants of Atlantis makes a name for himself. With a new release of the film slated for 2011 staring Jason Momoa as conan I figured it would be a good time to review some of the older films of this series. You might know Jason Momoa as Ronon Dex from Stargate Atlantis. In the 1982 film Conan is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger the now governor of California, at least at the time of writing this.
The film opens up in the village of Conan’s birth. He is with his father learning about steel and seeing just how both his father and mother work with the mysterious metal. At that time there were very few people that could properly combine the elements needed to make the white steal that we are all failure with today. His father poured and forged the blade and his mother carved and wrapped the hilt. It was a very good representation of village life of the time, props to the director John Milius and his crew for their attention to detail. Keep in mind that there were no computers to use at the time this film was made. Everything was a physical special effect or double exposure of film for the wraiths that are seen in the film. Almost everything was a physical prop, even the giant snake. I just love it when directors use models and the old way to make films, they just look more real.
After the sword is completed is where we really get to see just how Conan was forged himself into the muscle bound warrior that we know him to be. He was sent into slavery by the men of Thulsa Doom, a high priest of Set played by James Earl Jones. Jones is best known as the voice of Darth Vader and as the head of the CIA in the Harison Ford – Jack Ryan films. The man is a master at every role I have ever seen him play.
After Conan had been traded to an arena slaver and after having won and trained in many different fighting styles he was set free to find his own way in the world. After this he meets up with some thieves and raids the local tower of Set to steal the Eye Of The Snake. It was there that Conan sees again the symbol that he saw when his parents died and begins to work on a way to get revenge. It wasn’t till he was arrested though that gave him the real incentive and direction to see that his parents and all his people were avenged.
The film is a gem of its time with all the sets custom built for the film as well as judicious use of local Celtic and Norse ruins from the hills of Spain to really set the mood. No matter how much you like the CG films of today you will love this film. As to blood? All you blood junkies will be happy to know that there is blood, maybe not as much as Akira but still enough to sate your appetites.
Conan is definitely a film worth seeing and I can’t wait to see how they do with the remake that is slated for 2011 next year.