top of page

George At 

The Movies

Love movies? Lets be friends 

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

Join The Club & Never Miss A Review! 

Featured Movie Reviews

Conan the Barbarian

In 1982 when it hit the big screen, CONAN THE BARBARIAN knocked us out of our seats on opening weekend.

Bathed in gore, featuring great actors like Max Von Sydow and James Earl Jones and wrapped in Basil Poledouris driving music, CONAN rocked.

It launched the film career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, teased us with plenty of frank 80's sex & nudity and became the must see movie of the summer.

Fresh off "The Wind and The Lion" and the underrated "Big Wednesday", Writer/Director John Milius teamed up with Oliver Stone to create an epic telling of a legend.

The film opens with the first of multiple almost dialogue-free sequences in which we meet Conan as a young boy (Jorge Sanz), loved by his mother (the stunning Nadiuska) and learning the "ways of Steel" from his father (80's stalwart William Smith).

Their idyllic village is destroyed by the armies of warlord Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) who kills his parents and kidnaps Conan, enslaving him to the Wheel of Pain, where he trudges for over a decade, turning into Schwarzenegger as the massive stone wheel turns and the music soars.

Milius and Stone create a violent world where death and danger lurk in every stone corner. The sets are excellent and the landscape of Spain is the perfect filming location, most of the film looks like it's shot a thousand years ago.

Conan becomes a fighter, is eventually released and begins his own quest to track down Thulsa Doom and avenge his parents death.

He teams up with two great characters along the way.

Subotai, a Hyrkanian thief becomes Conan's first friend, well played by Gerry Lopez (one of the real life surfing champs in "Big Wednesday"!), and Valeria, the Queen of the Bandits, played by Sandahl Bergman in a role that every young man in 1982 instantly fell in love with; she's a bad-ass with heart and takes the boys adventures to new heights.

Schwarzenegger and Bergman did ALL their own stunts.

King Osric (Von Sydow) pays them a fortune and hires the trio to rescue his daughter from being wed to Doom. Von Sydow takes the movie to another level. Schwarzenegger said that he was the first incredible actor he had worked with and called the impact of Von Sydow's performance on him "staggering".

The story and the movie really takes off at this point, serving up a classic last hour in which they journey to the Mountain of Power and the Snake Cult Temple.

Milius and Stone manage to deliver orgies, cannibalism, the best transformation into a snake since "Sssssss" back in 1973, thousands of extras on biblical movie size sets and enough action for three movies.

Much of it is gloriously politically incorrect now, raising my enjoyment level even higher thinking of panicked snowflakes averting their eyes.

You watch Arnold turn into a movie star. In his early scenes, he's awkward and some of the sounds he makes in action scenes have become classics today, all those Schwarzenegger noises that every good impressionist does.

But about halfway through the film, when King Osric sends them on their journey, Conan starts to become a real character and Schwarzenegger gains the first signs of the screen presence and confidence that would make him a massive star.

Mako (The Sand Pebbles, Memoirs of a Geisha) is a great dramatic actor, but he's relegated to a very goofy role as The Wizard here. He saves it though, by providing excellent narration, especially in the opening and closing scenes.

If you're going to have voice-over narration in a movie, hire Oliver Stone to write it.

It's epic.

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 thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!


James Earl Jones proves he doesn't need a Darth Vader helmet to be scary. He gives the hypnotic, shapeshifting Doom real menace and alongside Von Sydow, elevates everything around them.

It's been over 40 years since CONAN THE BARBARIAN knocked our socks off on a hot May Friday night. It's lost none of its gory, brutal adventurous spirit since.

For that alone, it gets an A.







Recent Posts

See All

Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page