Conan the Barbarian is a 1982 film by director John Milius and is recognized as the breakthrough of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is loosely based on Robert E. Howard's Conan stories. It was followed in 1984 by a lighter, more child-friendly, but less successful sequel, Conan the Destroyer.
The film begins with a young Cimmerian boy, Conan, witnessing the destruction of his village and the death of his parents at the hand of warlord Thulsa Doom. The narration tells, "Who knows what they came for, weapons of steel or murder? It was never known, for the leader went to the south." The battle standard carried by the invaders, a snake with two heads, is burned into the memory of young Conan. Conan is sold into slavery with the rest of the children from his village and forced to perform intense manual labor. While the other children die, Conan grows strong, and is eventually sold and forced to fight as a gladiator. One night, however, his new owner spontaneously sets him free. From this point, Conan dedicates his life to exacting revenge on Thulsa Doom.
He travels the world looking for the warlord's symbol, the two-headed snake. Along the way he meets two companions, Subotai and Valeria, both thieves. They soon learn that a doomsday cult has arisen that makes extensive use of snake symbolism. While breaking into one of the cult's towers and stealing several artifacts, Conan confirms the cult's connection to Thulsa Doom after encountering the same two-headed snake symbol. After the heist, the three thieves are then offered a tremendous fortune by King Osric to retrieve his daughter who has joined the snake cult. Conan, however, not content with the pursuit of wealth, abandons his companions to pursue Thulsa Doom.
Conan eventually locates the center of the cult, a place of pilgrimage called the Mountain of Power, with the help of a hermitic wizard. Disguised as a priest, Conan sneaks into a ceremony at the mountain, but is quickly discovered as an impostor, captured, beaten, and taken before Thulsa Doom. Though many years have passed, Doom has not aged since the attack on Conan's village. His philosophy, however, has changed dramatically since his years as a warlord. He explains to Conan that the destruction of his village was part of his pursuit of "steel", which he once thought to be the key to power; only later did he realized that "flesh" is the stronger substance. Since the revelation, he has gained much greater power by controlling people through his cult. After explaining himself, Doom orders that Conan be crucified. Hung from a tree in the desert, Conan is rescued by Valeria and Subotai just before his death, and brought back to health with the help of the wizard. He warns Valeria that his magic will exact a terrible price.
The three then return to mountain of power to rescue King Osric's daughter. There they witness that the members are actually cannibals, ready to feast on a soup of eschewed human parts, presumably from any unlucky murder victim they have. Also Thulsa Doom reveals the secret to his power and longevity. He is not human at all, but rather one of the demigod spawn of the dark god Set. This is revealed when he transforms into a giant snake. Conan and his friends scatter the harem, capture King Osric's daughter, and kill many of Doom's guards. While they are escaping, however, Thulsa Doom kills Valeria with an arrow made from a venomous snake; her death fulfills the wizard's prophecy. Valeria is cremated by Conan.
Thulsa Doom personally leads an expedition to recover the King's daughter, re-donning the same steel armor he had long since abandoned. Conan, Subotai, and the Wizard successfully repel Doom's attack. Thulsa Doom, convinced that the battle is lost, decides to kill the king's daughter, but Subotai catches the arrow on his shield. Doom's spell on the princess is broken at last when she sees her idol trying to kill her. Thorgrim is killed by a clever trap and Rexor is killed by Conan who is shortly aided by Valeria's ghost. In the final scene, Conan sneaks into the Mountain of Power and decapitates Doom in front of thousands of his devotees, revealing their godhead as an imposter.
An epilogue states that Conan later went on to become a great king by his own hand, adding, "but that is another story."
Relationship to Robert E. Howard's storiesEdit
In spite of the title, the movie is a radical departure from Robert E. Howard's Conan series and owes much more to the original script and direction of John Milius. It draws only a few major elements from its literary namesake, including:
- The spoken prologue, "Between the time the Ocean drank Atlantis and the rise of the Sons of Aryas...", from "The Phoenix on the Sword"
- The reference to Conan's people as Cimmerians, and his father's blacksmith profession
- Conan's devotion to the god Crom
- The crucifixion episode, which is reasonably true to the events in "A Witch Shall Be Born"
- The scene where Conan climbs the tower, inspired by "The Tower of the Elephant"
Other aspects of the film are drawn sporadically from different pieces of Howard's works. For example, while a character named Valeria appears in Red Nails, the film character's attachment to Conan and her return from the dead to save his life are more akin to Bêlit (Belit) of "Queen of the Black Coast". Certain elements seem to have been borrowed from non-Conan sources, including the face-changing Snake Folk and the Thulsa Doom character which originated in Howard's Kull stories. Similarly, Conan's encounter with the witch in the film bears some similarity to "Worms of the Earth" from yet another of Howard's series, Bran Mak Morn. Thulsa Doom's monologue about fearing the dark are also drawn from the work.
Other elements of the film have no relation whatsoever to Howard's stories, including the "Riddle of Steel", the Black Sun Cult of Seth, Conan's adolescence in slavery, and his service as a gladiator in the East. Howard's Conan was still with his tribe in Cimmeria around the time he was 15 or 16, taking part in the destruction of the Aquilonian outpost of Venarium. Moreover, the Conan character portrayed by Schwarzenegger displays little "panther like agility," nor does he have the characteristic "black mane" and "volcanic blue eyes" of Howard's original (although Schwarzenegger's eyes are in fact blue).
Characters and castEdit
For a large budget film, the cast of Conan the Barbarian includes an unusual number of then-inexperienced actors. Dancer Sandahl Bergman and surfer Gerry Lopez were cast in major supporting roles as Conan's closest companions. In addition to Schwarzenegger, the cast also included several famous bodybuilders including William Smith, Sven-Ole Thorsen, and Franco Columbu, as well as former Oakland Raiders star Ben Davidson.
- Conan: Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Corin: William Smith
- King Osric: Max von Sydow
- Pictish scout: Franco Columbu
- Priest: Jack Taylor
- The Princess: Valérie Quennessen
- Rexor: Ben Davidson
- Subotai: Gerry Lopez
- Thorgrim: Sven-Ole Thorsen
- Thulsa Doom: James Earl Jones
- Valeria: Sandahl Bergman
- The Witch: Cassandra Gava
- The Wizard Akiro/Narrator: Makoto Iwamatsu, perhaps better know as Mako
- Black Lotus Peddler: Ron Cobb, set designer
- Cabo de Gata, Almería, Spain (The Mounds, where the Wizard lives and where Conan is resurrected)
- Desierto de Tabernas, Almería, Spain (The 'Mountain of Power' and the end scenes of the movie)
- Segovia, Spain
- Sierra Nevada, Granada, Spain
- British Columbia, Canada
- Ciudad Encantada, Cuenca, Spain (the passages in which Conan find the witch and Subotai)
- We don't have a complete list of locations for Conan the Barbarian (1982 movie). You can help Conan Wiki by adding to this list.
Originally, producer Dino de Laurentiis had planned a soundtrack of pop music for the movie - a là Flash Gordon (1980) - but was eventually persuaded by Milius to use a full orchestral score. For this purpose, Milius hired Basil Poledouris, a former classmate from the film department at the University of Southern California, and tasked him to make "a continuous musical drama." * The result was a choral and orchestral soundtrack that fills nearly every moment of the film, with pronounced use of leitmotifs to portray mood and character.
The violent early portions of the movie are filled with intense pieces including "Anvil of Crom", played by 24 french horns, strings and timpani, and "Riders of Doom", loosely inspired by Sergei Prokofiev's score to Alexander Nevsky. Thulsa Doom's theme, which recurs throughout the film, is based on the Gregorian chant, "Dies Irae". A number of quieter pieces fill the middle of the movie, including "Civilization", "The Leaving", and "The Search", before the music again intensifies for a series of battle sequences at the end of the film.
Several of the pieces, including the "Anvil of Crom" are frequently used in the trailers of other films by Universal Pictures. Much of the film's music was also reused in Conan the Destroyer.
Soundtrack album track listingEdit
Original 1982-2003 Milan album
- "Prologue/Anvil of Crom" (3:39)
- "Riddle of Steel/Riders of Doom" (5:38)
- "The Gift of Fury" (3:50)
- "Column of Sadness" / "Wheel of Pain" (4:09)
- "Atlantean Sword" (3:51)
- "Theology" / "Civilization" (3:14)
- "Love Theme" (2:10)
- "The Search" (3:09)
- "The Orgy" (4:14)
- "The Funeral Pyre" (4:29)
- "Battle of the Mounds Pt.1" (4:53)
- "Orphans of Doom" / "The Awakening" (5:32)
Expanded 1992 Varèse Sarabande album
- "Anvil of Crom" (2:34)
- "Riddle of Steel" / "Riders of Doom" (5:36)
- "Gift of Fury" (3:50)
- "Wheel of Pain" (4:09)
- "Atlantean Sword" (3:50)
- "Theology" / "Civilization" (3:13)
- "Wifeing (Love Theme)" (2:10)
- "The Leaving" / "The Search" (5:59)
- "Mountain of Power Procession" (3:21)
- "The Tree of Woe" (3:31)
- "Recovery" (2:11)
- "The Kitchen" / "The Orgy" (6:30)
- "Funeral Pyre" (4:29)
- "Battle of the Mounds" (4:52)
- "Death of Rexor" (5:34)
- "Orphans of Doom" / "The Awakening" (5:31)
- Music Composed and Conducted by Basil Poledouris
- "The Orgy" Composed by Basil and Zoë Poledouris
- Performed by members of the Chorus & Orchestra of Santa Cecilia and the Radio Symphony of Rome
- Orchestrated by Greig McRitchie
- Recording and Live Mixing Engineer: Federico Savina
- Recorded at International Recording Studios, Rome
"Riders of Doom" lyrics Edit
- Enses, enses requirimus, requirimus saevos nos.
- Swords, we seek swords, savage ones.
- Nos ferrei reges, servi Fati.
- We, iron kings, servants of Doom.
- Vale caelum, vale terra, vale nivis, morimur!
- Farewell, heaven; farewell, earth; farewell, snow; we die!
- Vale, morimur servis Fati!
- Farewell, for, the servants of Doom, we die!
From The Greatest Themes from the Films of Arnold Schwarzenegger (FILMCD 164, 1995), a somewhat different version:
- Enses requirimus saevos nos,
- We seek savage swords,
- nos ferrei reges servi fati,
- We, iron kings, servants of Doom,
- morta ex terra mortiferra tela
- bringing deadly weapons, sprung from the earth
- in hostes bello ad moventes.
- against the enemy in war.
- Equos frenamus furentes
- We control high-spirited horses,
- Capita superba quatientes
- shaking their proud heads
- mortem hostibus et luctem date
- Spirits of the dead, give death and bitter grief
- acrem di manes sternadis.
- to the enemy who must be laid low.
- Ave Nevis, ave ferrum,
- Hail Nevis, hail iron
- Ave tela, ave cruor
- Hail weapons, hail gore,
- Ave pugna, ave moritur!
- Hail the fight, hail those who are about to die!
(Translation of "fati" as "of Doom", i.e. Thulsa Doom, as per http://www.barbariankeep.com/ctbds.html)
"Gift of Fury" lyrics Edit
- Ecce nunc dies Patris
- Behold, now is the day of the Father.
- Ecce nunc dies Matris
- Behold, now is the day of the Mother.
- Regnat nos, salvat nos.
- He rules us, he saves us.
- Regnat nos, salvat vos.
- He rules us, he saves you.
"The Kitchen/The Orgy" Lyrics Edit
- Alum dare id Hephaestus, id ire fundi
- Give food to Hephaestus, Go deep to him
- Fati virum, omni brachium
- To the oracle responsible of everything
- Pulchris profundis infernarum servi fati
- To the beautiful deep hell of the servants of doom
- Impoteo Infernarum
- Stinking Hell
- Pulchris infernarum profundis
- To the beautiful deep hell
- Impoteo, impoteo fati
- Stinking, Stinking doom
- Impoteo Infernarum
- Stinking hell
- Alum dare, dolere, id Hephaestus, id ire
- Give food, suffer, go to him, to Hephaestus
- Pro profundis fati
- Through the deep doom
- Pro pulchris infernarum profundis
- Through the beautiful deep hell
- Pro pulchris omni fati brachium
- Through the beautiful hell responsible of all doom
- Pulchris profundis infernarum servi fati
- Beautiful deep hell of servants of doom
- Profundis, profundis fati
- To the deep, deep doom
- Alum dare, dolere, id Hephaestus, id ire
- Give food, suffer, go to him, to Hephaestus
- Pro profundis fati.
- Through the deep doom
Quotes and triviaEdit
- Mongol General: "What is best in life?"
Conan: "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women." (Note that this is actually a quote from Genghis Khan)
- Conan's Father "Fire and wind of the sky, from the Gods of the sky; but Crom is your God, Crom who lives in the Earth. Once giants lived in the Earth, Conan, and in the darkness of chaos they fooled Crom and they took from him the Enigma of Steel. Crom was angered and he was shook, and fire and wind struck down these giants and threw their bodies into the waters. But in their rage, they forgot about the secret of steel and left it on the battlefield. And those who found it, was just men, not Gods, not giants, just men. But the secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery, a riddle. You must learn it's secret, you must learn it's discipline, for no one, no one on this Earth can you trust, not man, not women, not beast... this you can trust"
- Conan: "If I die I have to go before him, and he will ask me, "What is the riddle of steel?" And if I don't know it he will cast me out of Valhalla and laugh at me. That's Crom, strong on his mountain."
- Conan: "Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you will remember, if we were good men, or bad. Why we fought, or how we died. No, all that matters is, that two stood against many. That's what's important. Valour pleases you Crom, so grant me one request, grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then the hell with you!"
- Conan, to Subotai: "Crom laughs at your four winds. Laughs from his mountain."
- King Osric: "There comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison, and all that is left is a father's love for his child."
- Valeria: "To the hell fires with Thulsa Doom. He's evil; a sorcerer who can summon demons. His followers' only purpose is to die in his service. Thousands of them."
- Valeria: "All my life I've been alone. Many times I've faced death with no one to know. I would look into the huts and the tents of others in the coldest dark and I would see figures holding each other in the night. But I always passed by."
- 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 thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!"
- Thulsa Doom: "Infidel defilers. They shall all drown in lakes of blood."
- Thulsa Doom: "My child, you have come to me, my son. For who now is your father if it is not me? Who gave you the will to live? I am the well spring from which you flow. When I am gone, you will have never been. What would your world be without me... my son?"
- Conan's Father: "For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts. This you can trust." [Points to sword]
- Thulsa Doom: "Yes! You know what it is don't you boy. Shall I tell you? It's the least I can do. Steel isn't strong boy, flesh is stronger! Look around you. There, on the rocks; that beautiful girl. Come to me, my child... [Girl leaps to her death] That is strength, boy! That is power! What is steel compared to the hand that wields it? Look at the strength in your body, the desire in your heart. I gave you this! Such a waste. Contemplate this on the tree of woe. Crucify him!"
- Valeria: "Do you want to live forever?" (Note that this is actually a quote from Frederick the Great)
- Thulsa Doom: "Now they will know why they are afraid of the dark. Now they learn why they fear the night."
- Thulsa Doom: "I wish to speak to you now. Where is the Eye of the Serpent? Rexor said that you gave it to a girl; probably for a mere night's pleasure. Such a loss. People have no grasp of what they do."
- Subotai: "He is Conan, Cimmerian. He won't cry, so I cry for him."
- Black Lotus Street Peddler: "Two or three years ago it was just another snake cult."
- Black Lotus Street Peddler: 'I know nothing.' (Even though he told them everything)
- The Wizard: "I'm a wizard, mind you. This place is kept by powerful gods and spirits of kings. Harm my flesh and you will have to deal with the dead!"
- Valeria: "All the gods, they cannot sever us. If I were dead and you were still fighting for life, I'd come back from the darkness. Back from the pit of hell to fight at your side."
- Conan: "For us, there is no spring. Just the wind that smells fresh before the storm."
In the 1914 silent film Cabiria, a slave named Maciste pushes a mill wheel for ten years just as Conan does.
- The Encyclopedia of Fantasy • edited by John Clute and John Grant • Orbit 1997 ISBN 1857233689
- International Superheroes: Conan • "Loki"
- The Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
- All Movie Guide: Conan the Barbarian
- ^ Conan the Barbarian Original Motion Picture Soundtrack liner notes • Kevin Mulhall
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