1982’s ‘Conan the Barbarian’ remains the best

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the one, true 'Conan The Barbarian'

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I was seven years old when I first saw Conan the Barbarian. I was shocked when I learned this, actually. I remember seeing it in the theater, but didn’t realize that I was only seven. Blood, nudity, what on Earth was my father thinking when he took me and my brother to see it?

Anyway, I thanked him then and I’m grateful now. It’ has always been one of my favorite films. The music — one of the production’s highlights — always stuck with me to this day. And, before getting this DVD, I hadn’t seen the film complete and uncut in years. Sadly, the edited version on TV completely butchers the soundtrack.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is ready for battle in 'Conan the Barbarian'
Arnold Schwarzenegger is ready for battle in ‘Conan the Barbarian’

Upon receiving my DVD player for my birthday, I collected about 12 DVDs in about three weeks. This would probably be higher, but they’re expensive, so I had to calm down a little. Anyway, when I saw that Conan the Barbarian was on DVD and it had some cool bonus features, I had to get it.

First, as I usually do, I watched the film. Seeing it wide-screen was terrific (something I had not seen since first viewing it in the theater). For those not in the know, the film is about a boy whose parents are killed by a leader of a snake cult. Conan, a skilled and powerful warrior, seeks vengeance, glory and women as he eventually comes face to face with the man who murdered his folks.

This story may sound familiar. This is because almost every major — and minor sword and sorcery film that followed during the 80s had a similar theme (chiefly, Beastmaster), which a few differences.

The movie is full of blood and violence, action and adventure. Some have complained that it move very slowly and that the action scenes are few and far between. While this isn’t exactly false, the movie isn’t a really a balls out action film, and I don’t think Milius intended it to be. Unlike it’s sequel, and other copycat films that followed, it’s more about Conan’s journey than action. The hero’s quest to find revenge for the death of his parents.

The DVD offers more than just a great quality viewing of the film. It also features a few deleted scenes, a terrific behind the scenes documentary, a slew of production photos and artwork, as well as the all important audio commentary, featuring John Milius (director) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (actor).

Sandahl Bergman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gerry Lopez in 1982's 'Conan the Barbarian'
Sandahl Bergman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gerry Lopez in 1982’s ‘Conan the Barbarian’

Milius offers some interesting insight into the making of the film. Schwarzenegger offers the comedy relief. This is mainly because he remarks several times during the first half of the film how he doesn’t remember much from the production. In the end, most of what he says is “yeah” to things that Milius points out. He also interrupts Milius a few times, which gets annoying. But, by the second half of the film, he begins to recall things about the productions and sounds less like a dingbat.

The documentary is also really interesting. I didn’t know much about the making of Conan, and always wondered what Oliver Stone’s contribution to movie was. As it turns out, his script — which was more sword and sorcery, monsters and demons, compared to the final product — was all but completely abandoned. I’m not sure why they gave him credit. Milius decided to make the film more grounded in reality, abandoning more elaborate fantasy elements.

The gallery of images is also pretty cool. Some amazing Conan artwork.

Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Conan the Barbarian poster Rating: 6.9/10 (109,058 votes)
Director: John Milius
Writer: Robert E. Howard (based on the character created by), John Milius, Oliver Stone
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow, Sandahl Bergman
Runtime: 129 min
Rated: R
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
Released: 14 May 1982
Plot: A vengeful barbarian warrior sets off to avenge his tribe and his parents whom were slain by an evil sorcerer and his warriors when he was a boy.

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Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

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