Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow, Sandahl Bergman, Gerry Lopez, Mako
Directed By: John Milius
Written By: John Milius, Oliver Stone
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 2 hr 9 min
This is how you make a barbarian film. Like a bloody barbarian! A blunt simple tool, born of hard labor and forged and focused in the arena. Such it seems is John Milius’ approach to his swords and sandals epic, starring the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role.
Conan, as a story is pretty aimless it has to be said. Playing out like an ancient prophecy’s highlight reel. Riding from point A to B to get into adventures with witches, wizards and kings. A collection of seemingly random meetings and events, slowly connecting the dots between our hero, and the man who killed his family, Thulsa Doom. Played with gloriously over the top theatrics by James Earl Jones.
Arnold’s performance (such as it is) is perfect for a movie like this, and writers Milius and Oliver Stone wisely limit his dialog. Relying on Schwarzenegger’s great physicality to (literally) flesh out his character. He’s every bit the convincing sword wielding warrior, and the dialog he does get is delivered with playful confidence. Say what you want about Arnold’s acting, but when it comes to feeling out the beat of a movie, there are few actors that can match the Austrian’s intuitive understanding of the productions he signs up for.
Conan the Barbarian has many faults it’s true. The action is a little clumsy, and the practical effects aren’t always that well implemented. The movie is also about thirty minutes too long, and often can’t decide if it wants to be a medieval revenge story, or go full-on Dungeons and Dragons fantasy. Despite all this, or perhaps in part because of this, Conan has become a cult classic. It’s bold honest entertainment, with a bonafide movie star front and center.
If you’re looking for great swords and sandals action and adventure, Conan the Barbarian is sure to entertain. The movie is rated R for bloody violence, sexual content and nudity.
The film was mostly shot in Spain, and Duke Callaghan’s photography would be best served on the big screen. For home, a HD version of the film is available to watch on your nice big TV.
When Conan punches a camel! Cracked me up!