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Conan the Retread

Marty, my Z-Realm Podcast co-host, showed me the trailer for the new Conan the Barbarian movie. It looks terrible.

That's a major bummer, because the character of Conan the Cimmerian is enormously important to me.  My introduction to the character was probably his Marvel Comics incarnation. I say this because I was already familiar with the character when I saw the 1982 John Milius film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger even though I had not read any of the original Conan stories. My enthusiasm for the film lead me to read the 12 book collection of Robert E. Howard's Conan stories edited by L. Sprague de Camp. I read all 12 books back to back, and that experience instilled me with a love of reading that has carried me deep into the realm of literary imagination.

The Conan in the original stories is a lot smarter and more sophisticated than Schwarzenegger's portrayal of him, but the film was obviously a labor of love, and it has aged quite well for something which is obviously a product of the early 1980s. Still, I knew that a re-boot was inevitable, and I was hoping that the filmmakers would return to the source material and bring more of the wealth of Robert E. Howard's imagination to the screen and into the light of (the non-book reading) public consciousness.

When I saw the trailer, particularly the new Conan's style of swordsmanship and the title logo, I thought that it looked like a re-make of the 1982 film. By taking the copy of a copy approach, there is little hope of a good movie. I looked up the film on IMDB and found the following item:

Q: Is this a remake of the Milius/Schwarzenegger movie?

A: It is a brand new adaptation of the original Conan stories by Robert E. Howard.


Here's how I can tell that this is horse shit:

Robert E. Howard's last published Conan story, "Red Nails," features a character named Valeria. She is a former pirate and a mercenary. It has been decades since I read the story, and while I think she and Conan did hook up in the end, they were not in love, and Valeria's attitude toward Conan was a mix of admiration and distrust. As I remember the story, she kept Conan at an emotional distance with sarcasm and verbal sparring.

In the 1982 film, the character of Valeria, played by Sandahl Bergman, had a lot more in common with the character of Bêlit in the 1932 Robert E. Howard story "Queen of the Black Coast" than with the Valeria of "Red Nails." In "Queen of the Black Coast," Bêlit, the leader of a group of river pirates and Conan's lover, pledges that if she should die before Conan she would return from hell to fight by his side should he need it. She delivers on that promise. It is Valeria who makes and delivers on that same pledge in the 1982 film.

In the trailer for the new film, we hear a woman tell Conan that he is not even a knight, and he responds with, "I care not. I live, I love, I slay, and I am content." Compare that with the following passage from "Queen of the Black Coast" (the story featuring Bêlit; not Valeria):

"Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is an illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and I am content."

Bêlit is not listed as a character in the new film, but according to IMDB, the character of Valeria will be played by Katarzyna Wolejnio. The makers of the new film are obviously looking to "Queen of the Black Coast" for source material, but again they've replaced Bêlit with Valeria. Just like in the 1982 film. Phooey!

Yes, I'm obsessing and reading a lot into a teaser trailer for what will probably be an unremarkable film, but the character of Conan is that important to me.

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greengestalt
Mar. 22nd, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
I agree totally
My response to these trailers and the chatter about the lame script:

"Hairy ballz of the Gawdz, this will suck a--!"


Conan the Barbarian was a transformative experience to me, one that had a profound impact on me early on and even as I mature still echoes.


Years back, when I was a wee lad, I snuck into a movie just ducking out of some mischief I'd done. Big soda pop, like carrying a bucket, no candy or popcorn to balance it out.


And, as a grade school kid, I saw CONAN THE BARBARIAN...


What a perfect setting. The whole magic of the movie was only matched when even younger I'd seen the TV showing of HG Wells's "Things to Come" the 1936 showing.


The Narrator, Mako... The dark...

The music and the sword being forged...

And the experience of the movie itself...



Pure trans formative. A life in a movie. Wonder, terror, laughter, tears, revulsion, lust, love, hatred, revenge, life, death, indulgence and enlightenment. Also, note I was in a small mid western city so I lived with daily experience of nuck futz fundiez trying to ram their bible down my throat it put a perspective on it, Genesis "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."


Frankly, "Conan" started me believing the worst "Conspiracy Theories" about the media.


The movie itself is a "Fluke". Virtually NOTHING like that is in the media, despite a strong demand for it and countless writers/musicians who get nothing trying to get published. They don't even have it out on Blu-Ray yet and that movie was filmed with the quality that could transfer, early widescreen technology.


The later movies were so stupid, I could have written better in grade school. They seemed out to DEBASE Conan, make it lame, PC, etc. Made him dumber, when the real Conan was fairly smart, made him second to a woman, went through and ruined the good REH adventures... On the abortion TV series I had the stomach to watch -barely- one episode- their "Tower of the Elephant" and that was sickening. For the same amount of $ spent, they could have done it right, using better lighting and camera angles and being far more faithful to the story. The only thing the Animated series got good was the "Reptilian Shapeshifters" and IMO that was deliberate, see the YouTube link, and they visited the "Isle of Iron Statues"...


Now we face the final obscenity of them doing a "Star Trek" re-boot to destroy the plot that they leeched off of while doing nothing but debasing it. IMO, they'll try to buy out/bankrupt, whatever the Dark Horse company to stop their very good re-do of the Conan comic book series.


Like, maybe there's a "Group" running the media who's afraid of any "Superman" character, so they have to lame it down. Or, it's just soul-less businessmen who want to make sure there's no "Talented Writer" they can't flush down the toilet at a second's thought and replace, so they dumb down movies, books, tv, music so there's no "Irreplaceable" person who can set wages and worse control what they output. Or, it's the reptiles. Don't know if you like David Icke, but there's a pretty cool parallel to the first Conan movie - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5KBrP-pB1A
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