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People have preconceptions of what makes a good move and more often
than not they get tangled up in their own web of closed mindedness. It
is no one thing that makes a movie great but a combination of all to
create a feeling, and that is one thing that Conan has always done for
This was the first film that introduced me to "the goosebump effect" or
rather seeing scenes of such emotional and thematic power that they
give you chills. After watching this film over and over again it still
doesn't disappoint. The scene immediately following the raid on Conan's
village is a true masterpiece of visual storytelling. without a single
line of dialogue everything that is to come in the next two hours is
set up with the Murder of Conan's parents before his eyes. The look of
disbelief on his face as his mother's lifeless body falls before him.
Staring at his hand and then toward Thulsa Doom. the Villain saluting
his freshly stolen steel. It is a perfectly executed scene that were
this film not so unjustly written off as a hack and slash "sword and
sorcery" picture would be rightfully remembered as one of the great
scenes in film history.
The best way to describe Conan would be to call it a philosophical
epic. There are real ideas and philosophies at play in the narrative.
Conan's father's teachings of steel...the opening scene forging the
sword becoming a metaphor for Conan's life. He is a character created
by hardship and grief, and like the opening quote says "That which does
not kill us makes us stronger" Conan becomes more powerful with the
more hardships he overcomes. The film is very well put together. Many
scenes and images from the movie are as visually layered and well
thought out as any Ridley Scott picture. The prelude to the opening
battle in the snow is stunning with great visual flair, a single scout
stands atop a boulder breathing heavy, anticipating battle as vibrant
rays of sunlight pour through the trees.
There is a ritualistic quality to many of the scenes in the film such
as the finding of the atlantean sword, or the lead up to Conan's duel
with the snake which is carried through right to the end where after
Conan drops his sword the followers of doom extinguish their flames in
the fountain. Everyone in the film manages to give a good performance
but the big mistake that most people make in judging them is that they
do not understand that acting is not simply saying lines of dialogue,
it is behavior. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the rest of the cast give
outstanding performances without saying all that much. The scene at the
funeral pyre where Conan runs his hand through the hair of his fallen
love...the subtle look of grief withheld combined with the eloquent
score is enough to get the idea across, no dialogue is needed. Basil
Poledouris' score for the film has to be one of, if not, the greatest
score ever composed and it plays an integral part in creating the rich
emotional landscape of John Milius' epic film. Conan the barbarian is a
film I saw when I was very young, and through the years as I have
gotten a little older and wiser the film has gotten richer and more
rewarding with each subsequent viewing.
This is a film of great resonance and subtlety. Most audiences today
cannot appreciate a film that requires a bit of deep thinking, but this
is one of the rare films that is even more rewarding if you look
beneath the surface.
Tags for Conan the Barbarian Full Movie
, James Earl Jones
, Max von Sydow
, Sandahl Bergman
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