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Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Barbarian

4.7 6
Director: John Milius

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow


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John Milius's jingoistic direction and pulpy screenplay fit perfectly into this film version of the Robert E. Howard fantasy story of the sword and sorcery hero, Conan the Barbarian. Complementing Mulius's heavy metal production is Arnold Schwarzenegger's leaden acting, which in any other context


John Milius's jingoistic direction and pulpy screenplay fit perfectly into this film version of the Robert E. Howard fantasy story of the sword and sorcery hero, Conan the Barbarian. Complementing Mulius's heavy metal production is Arnold Schwarzenegger's leaden acting, which in any other context would be deadly, but here (as in The Terminator) corresponds nicely with the whole sonorous project. The story begins when a horde of rampaging warriors massacre the parents of young Conan and enslave the young child for years on The Wheel of Pain. The Wheel of Pain seems to have as its only purpose the building up of Conan's muscles, so it's no surprise that one day Conan grows up to become Arnold Schwarzenegger. As the sole survivor of the childhood massacre, Conan is released from slavery and taught the ancient arts of fighting. Transforming himself into a killing machine, Conan travels into the wilderness to seek vengeance on Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), the man responsible for killing his family. In the wilderness, Conan takes up with the thieves Valeria (Sandahl Bergman) and Subota (Gerry Lopez). The trio comes upon a weird snake cult, linked to Doom, and Conan wants to trek off to Doom's mountain retreat to kill him. But he is prevented from doing that by King Osrik (Max Von Sydow), who wants the trio of warriors to help rescue his daughter who has joined Doom in the hills.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Daniel Craft
Director John Milius reset the standard for sword-and-sandal epics with this rough-hewn 1982 fantasy, and pumped up the career Arnold Schwarzenegger in the bargain. Recalling some of the low-budget glee of earlier peplum pics by Hammer Films, Conan boasts a script co-written by Milius and Oliver Stone and offers a chronically laconic hero bent on revenge and pumped up like, well, Mr. Universe. Conan (Schwarzenegger), possessed of an insatiable thirst to avenge his parents' death at the hands of warlord Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), escapes slavery to become a fearsome gladiator, hardened in both body and spirit by backbreaking labor. Freed from bondage, Conan pursues a life of petty crime, gaining a group of followers/friends including a statuesque woman warrior, Valeria (Sandahl Bergman), a thief (Gerry Lopez), and a wizard, (Pearl Harbor's Mako), until fate offers him a chance for revenge against Doom. Jones attacks his villainous role with dead-eyed menace, and Max von Sydow makes a fine turn as Osric, the king who bids Conan to rescue his daughter (Valérie Quennessen). But it is Schwarzenegger's steely gaze and stilted delivery that make the movie -- and seem to make it an even more joyful romp with the passing years. The yeasty brew of minimal dialogue and maximum barbarism, cinematographer Duke Callaghan's use of the Italian and Spanish locations, and Basil Poledouris's sweeping score all yield a film with an almost operatic air of grandeur. Unlike most of the imitators to bank on Conan's success, Milius's film is presented straight-faced and without camp -- an honorable accomplishment that even its sequel, Conan the Destroyer, fell shy of achieving.
All Movie Guide
If John Milius has a specialty as a director, it's making enjoyable films out of highly questionable material. In his directorial debut, Dillinger, he made the cold-blooded gangster an almost lovable figure without toning down the story's violence a bit. Here he uses Robert E. Howard's pulp hero to justify a militaristic worldview just a little to the left of a backwoods militia. Social Darwinism transported to a mythic past, Conan presents a kill-or-be-killed world in which the musclebound Schwarzenegger logically sits at the top of the food chain. Working in top form, Milius has the smarts to pull it off. The world he presents seems strangely plausible and complete, filled out with merchants, cults, and other fixtures. The action sequences are staged excitingly and, like fellow film school pals Lucas and Spielberg, he fills the film with classic film references, with one segment borrowing especially effectively from Kwaidan. On some levels it might be reprehensible, but it's entertainingly reprehensible, particularly in the fleshed out director's cut form found on the DVD version.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Deleted Scenes; Conan Unchained: The Making of Conan the Barbarian; Special Effects; The Conan Archives; Feature Commentary with Director John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan
James Earl Jones Thulsa Doom
Max von Sydow King Osric
Sandahl Bergman Valeria
Ben Davidson Rexor
Cassandra Gaviola The Witch
Gerry Lopez Subotai
Mako The Wizard
Valerie Quennessen The Princess
William Smith Conan's Father
Luis Barboo Red Hair
Franco Columbu Pictish Scout
Leslie Foldvary Snake Girl
Gary Herman Guard
Erick Holmey Officer
Akio Mitamura Mongol General
Nadiuska Conan's Mother
Jorge Sanz Young Conan
Jack Taylor Priest
Sven Ole Thorsen Thorgrim
Kiyoshi Yamazaki Sword Master

Technical Credits
John Milius Director,Screenwriter
Nick Allder Special Effects
Colin Arthur Makeup
Bub Asman Sound/Sound Designer
Pier Luigi Basile Art Director
John Bloomfield Costumes/Costume Designer
Duke Callaghan Cinematographer
Ron Cobb Production Designer
D. Constantine Conte Executive Producer
Dino de Laurentiis Producer
Raffaella de Laurentiis Producer
Carlo DeMarchis Makeup
Buzz Feitshans Producer
Benjamin Fernandez Art Director
C. Timothy O'Meara Editor
Oliver Stone Screenwriter
Basil Poledouris Score Composer
Giorgio Postiglione Set Decoration/Design
Edward R. Pressman Executive Producer
Fred Stafford Editor
Edward Summer Associate Producer


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Conan the Barbarian 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
''Lord of the Rings'' was accussed as '' just another mega-budget hype'' , ''Willow'' was thought by many as a bed-time story and ''the 13th warrior'', simply,as boring. Even though I adore all of the aforementioned films, I have to follow the ''everyone is entitled to an opinion'' dogma. However when it comes to ''Conan the barbarian'' I simply cannot find any negative points to whine about - unless you are a Titanic/Legends of the Falls fan, in which case why bother watching it anyway? Starting from the usual weakness in Arnie's movies: himself. Not only is he delivering the role of a seldom-speaking often-slaying barbaric warrior, not only is the physical resemblance to the hero amazing, but,furthermore (thanks to the fact he was still a nobody back then, as far as Hollywood was concerned) he avoids the trap others have fallen into:he adopts himself to the legend rather than the other way round (see Sly's rape of ''Judge Dread'' for instance). Backed by the majestic performance of J.E.Jones as Thal Sa Doom, the mesmerazing spiritual villain, and spot-on sidekick acting from excellent supporting cast (led by M. von Sydoff)further enhance the brilliance of directing and the power of the story(O.Stone's surealistic approach is evident in the children of doom cult). As for the score composed by my compatriote V.Poliduris, one word comes to mind: breathtaking. Then its the small details one should not neglect: Hand 2 hand combats of pure perfection with the ideal dosage of gory sound&visual effects, the absence of dodgy sentimental scenes,the true-fanity of the extras & Spanish background and the unexpected katharsis of the drama, a relief to vewers (like me)who are fed up to their ears with the unwritten rule of ''this-is-the-closing-duel-where-the-bad-guy-always-gets-it-after-10min-or so'' Most of all, though, you need to appreciate the bigger picture. There are no hidden messages, no moral mumbojumbo, no ''american way of life''jingles and no hideous happy endings. Conan is born by pain, lives in pain and learns how to deal with it. His world is a muthical, magical kingdom where triumph & death walk hand by hand. Its truly beautiful how this mixture of heroism, cynicism, pure evil and not so pure good, and supernatural intervention, is binded in this movie. All together, its the uncompromising spirit of its hero, which justifies the title of this review
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the film that started it all; both for Schwarzenegger's film career and for all of the sword and sorcery movies that would try (most in vain) to imitate it. Before Beastmaster; before Ladyhawke; before Sword and Sorcerer; there came Conan. The story is simple and draws the audience into a credible yet imagined past of warriors and sorcerers. James Earl Jone's performance as the evil cult leader/sorcerer Thulsa Doom was the anchor in what otherwise could have been a complete flop. Max Von Sydow's brief role also gave weight to the acting. This is a role Schwarzenegger was born to play without a doubt. Another element which brought the movie to an epic status was John Milius' decision to retain Basil Poledoris for the music; a brilliant composition that carried the theme of the story with elegance (Oliver Stone wanted to use disco music.) Sandahl Bergman is the least convincing actress who was completely miscast as Queen Valeria; appearing to be more interested in accentuating her out-of-place Bay Watch appearance than playing her actual role. Mako and Jerry Lopez also delivered good performances in this film. Get the original release instead of the director's cut. The extra scenes inserted in the director's cut were originally deleted for a reason: the scenes consist of poor dialogue that doesn't add anything to the film. You also don't have the option of watching it without the added scenes in the director's cut. Stay with the original edition even if the sound and picture isn't as good.
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