14
May
12

Conan, the 30th anniversarry


May the 14th, 1982, 30 years ago today the unmatched movie summer of 1982 begins….

The first big movie to kick off the season was Universal Pictures’ Conan the Barbarian.  I had been waiting for this one for well over three years, when it was announced somewhere in 1979 that Super Body Builder Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast to play the starring role.  Like most of my friends at the gym, Arnold was a huge role model, and everyone aspired to work out hard and to be like him!!!  It was a huge day when the news came out that the king was going to be Conan; Arnold was born to play this part and, although his acting is not his sharpest talent, looking invincible and destroying everything with a sword was!!!

I was going to college in Arizona at the time, and my movie going buddies Rod Andrewson, Steve Boltz, Mark Zainer, and my cousin Jeff Goff were all ready for this one.  Opening night at the Mann’s Christown Theater was packed, and once the movie started, the cheers and howls never stopped. The film was 2 hour + roller coaster ride of incredible carnage and violence that was pretty hard to take at the time.  This was the begining of the bloody epic films, and the Summer of 82 had several more in store before the season was through.

Conan was an incredible film.  It is epic in it’s scope and visual scenery, and it stays fairly faithful to the novels by Robert E. Howard.  The film was written for the screen by Oliver Stone and John Milius (who was also the director).  Ron Cobb was the production Designer,  William Stout and Pier Luigi Basile made up the rest of the art department.  Cobb’s work has always been the cornerstone of my inspiration and art career and, for me, Conan was a visual feast of Ron’s talent.  From Swords to Temples his imagination was free to run wild, as well as the fine works of Stout and Basile. The incredible costumes were designed by John Bloomfield, and there are so many styles and tribes of people he had to design for, not to mention a huge cast of actors and hundreds and hundreds of extras that had to be suited.

One of my favorite parts of the film is the musical score composed by Basil Poledouris.  Basil is legendary and his work for Conan is definitely one of his many shining stars!!!  A robust and Romantic score filled with memorable themes, and his use of the choir only added to the majesty of the underlying voice he created to carry us to another place and time.  There are many versions of this soundtrack out but there are only one or two complete scores available.  These would be the best to seek out.  The original soundtrack was on vinyl  and accompanied the release of the film.  Because of the time restrictions of an LP there was only about 45 minutes of music to listen to from a 70 to 80 minute complete score.  Not until I did find the complete soundtrack some 20 years later did I realize how much beautiful, subtle music there was carrying the easier moments in the movie.

The filming locations for the most part were all in Spain except for a few in Canada.  Duke Callaghan’s cinematography is breathtaking to say the least, and his use of natural light and surroundings added yet another beautiful layer to the films exotic look.  The casting was perfect from the big parts to the minor roles, and there were some big names in this one.  James Earl Jones as the evil Thulsa Doom, Max von Sydow as King Osric, and Mako as the wizard.  Arnold’s costars were excellently cast, and their parts made for the right character balance for supporting roles.  Gerry Lopez played Subotai the archer, and Sandahl Bergman played Conan’s love and protector Valeria.  This was a big role or Sadahl who was previously a professional dancer.  Her work can be seen in “All that Jazz” and also as one of Olivia Newton John’s sister muse’s in (one of my guilty pleasure films) “Xanadu”.

I’m sure most of you reading this have seen “Conan,” but for those of you who haven’t, it is worth your time.  The movie is dated but stands the test of time pretty well.  Lots of long establishing shots and fixed camera dialog scenes let you know your in the 80′s, and I find it a fresh reminder that the camera does not have to be moving at all times to tell a story.

Milius succeeded in turning a fairly simple story into a much larger than life motion Picture.  “Conan” cost 20 million dollars to make, and at the time that was a fairly expensive price tag.  Box office grosses were high and the film made it’s money back inside of it’s first two weeks in theaters.  Overall the film was loved by moviegoers and received mostly positive ratings from the critics…I saw this one at least 6 times over the Summer, and it was a must VHS purchase when it came out the following Summer.

There is a lot out on the web about this movie so below are some of my fav links to go to if you’re in the mood for more about “CONAN THE BARBARIAN.”  If you’re an old reader to this blog, You know a lot about production designer Ron Cobb.  If you’re a new reader, here is a link to a post from several years ago showing Ron’s art from Conan…  https://johneaves.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/conan-and-cobb/     The art of Bill stout can be seen at, http://conancompletist.com/EN/william_stout.html      This is a fabulous website telling you everything about everything Conan,  http://conancompletist.com/EN/home.htm

OK fellow fans have fun, and hope you enjoy the grabs below.

The Universal logo of 1982

The credits role over a montage of imagery showing the creation of Conan’s father’s sword

the beautiful art of metal carving is seen under the writers credits

The story begins with a young Conan and his father talking about trust and steel.

Conan’s quiet village is under attack from Thulsa Doom’s (James Earl Jones) army.

This is Franco Columbu, one of Arnold’s body building buddies.

Through the snowy mist they ride, Dooms men have come to kill everyone they encounter.

Conan and his mother are the last to take a stand against Doom.

The sword of Conan’s father is presented to Doom.

Doom has the power to hypnotize and he will’s Conan’s mother to lower her sword. In a grim moment Doom swirls and beheads young Conan’s mother while he is still holding her hand.

the tragedy at hand

Children were the only survivors of the attack and they were sent to the North to serve out their lives as slaves.

The wheel of pain!

Young Conan is chained to the wheel and this is where he’ll stay for the next 10 years or so.

A montage of shots showing a young boy turn to a man follow, and one by one the other children die off leaving the loan Conan to push the wheel.

Muscles grow.

At the end of the Montage we are introduced to Conan the man and the first time we see Arnold.

Conan is purchased by a promoter and he introduces his prize to the arena for one on one combat…. Conan becomes unbeatable and is the fans favorite fighter, heaping great wealth upon his master.

Conan is introduced to the ways of the sword as well as reading and writing.

Conan’s master feels he has had his prize to long and lets the chained beast go before it can turn on him. Conan roams the land and discovers an ancient temple and a sword that will make him free.

Conan takes the sword from the ancient kings remains.

the house of the witch.

Conan and Subotai meet up and become thieves.

Ron Cobb as the Black Lotus dealer.

One of Doom’s snake towers.

Valeria (Sanahl Bergman) joins Conan and Subotai, and the three become one tough team.

from Xanadu to Conan.

the three thieves rob one of Dooms towers and kill his prized snake.

King Osric (Max Von Sydow) has the three captured and holds their robbery of Doom in high regards, He makes them an offer to go to Dooms mountain and get his daughter back from Doom’s cult.

Conan slips out in the night to find Doom leaving his partners behind, he comes across an ancient burial ground and the strange little wizard that looks after the place.

Mako plays the wizard and the two become quick friends.

Conan steals the robes from an overly friendly Priest and heads for Dooms temple, One of Cobbs incredible designs. Fun to look back at a time when throngs of extras were real people and not CG.

Another incredible full sized set and not a lick of it built by computer.

King Osric’s daughter.

Doom addresses his followers.

Conan is caught & beaten and then presented to Doom for judgement.

Doom explains the riddle of steel before sentencing Conan to contemplate things as he is to be crucified.

the tree of woe

Conan’s dead body is found and brought back to the wizards burial ground, there Valeria makes a pact with the gods if they will bring Conan back to life. The wizard then begins to prepare the body for the trial of demons.

night of the demons

The gods grant Valeria’s request and Conan stands again and ready to fight again.

The three ride off together to Dooms mountain to save the kings daughter and save revenge on Doom for another day.

Doom has made Osric’s daughter his main lady and they watch over the orgy of his main followers before them, Conan’s team silently move in.

a wild sequence begins as the mood of the temple is calm, Doom’s figure begins to transform.

As the sequence continues we find out that Doom is a serpent as well

so this is paradise

the battle begins

Conan on the prowl

They will all drown in lakes of blood,,,, Doom’s curse as the thieves make off with the princess leaving his temple in shambles and his slaves and servants slain.

The evil army ride’s, Doom has killed Valeria and Conan awaits his coming with hate and vengence

Conan, Subotai, and the wizard horrifically defeat doom’s men in a bloody battle at the burial grounds.

Doom watches as his men are killed, he tries to kill the princess unsuccessfully thus heaping her vengeance on him as he rides off back to his temple.

With the aid of Osric’s daughter Conan finally gets to Doom and severs his head with the very sword that Doom used to cut off his mother’s head when he was a boy

With Doom dead his followers go back to their homes and villages and Conan burns the temple down. That is the full sized set burning in the background

Conan takes Osric’s daughter home

The film ends with a continuing narrative by mako, An image of Conan sitting on a thrown fills the frame and we are promised another adventure where Conan becomes king by his own hand.. We are still waiting 30 years later


35 Responses to “Conan, the 30th anniversarry”


  1. 1 Buckaroohawk
    May 14, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    This is an amazing movie! When I went to see it I was expecting a typical, low-budget “sword and sorecery” flick, but, man, was I wrong! It was just huge, epic in scale. Milius knew exactly what he was doing and he immersed the audience in Conan’s world. It’s hard to believe the film only cost $20 million; it looks like they spent a lot more. It’s still one of my favorites and easily one of the best films of the genre ever made.

    P.S. Don’t tell anyone, but “Xanadu” is a guilty pleasure for me as well. I can’t even explain why, but for some reason it just works for me.

  2. 7 DeanneM
    May 15, 2012 at 12:00 am

    YEA! Great start back to the blog post with CONAAAAN!! :) I haven’t read it all yet…time to get to work and edit it into an easier to read form, heh. But OH YA, Conan was, is and always will be much more awesome than it’s budget and many people’s expectations…definitely epic! (more comment after edit…getting to work >.>)

  3. May 15, 2012 at 1:04 am

    I love both the Conan films, the socre is spot on and the setting beautful.
    This was also the frist film I finally got to see what James Earl Jones looked like. up until then all I knew of him as the voice of Vader.

    I just wish they got round to making King Conan.

    • 10 johneaves
      May 15, 2012 at 8:01 am

      yeah I was so sad the final film was never made,,, It was written and ready to go but all the contracts between DE Laurentiis and Shwarzenegger had come to an end.. I didn’t like the sequel at all… it seemed to go more towards campy and and i wanted so much more…

  4. May 15, 2012 at 6:26 am

    Conan was a proper rip-snorting adventure movie , the like of which we just don’t see any more. The reboot was OK but this stands out as a great, fun classic!

  5. May 15, 2012 at 8:37 am

    I’ve seen this movie. It’s been years, though (around a decade.) It’s been on my mind lately, though, even though I had absolutely no idea the 30th anniversary was yesterday. (I only knew it was sometime this year) I’m going to have to pick up a copy of Conan somewhere, it shouldn’t be too expensive. Who knows, maybe they’ll release a 30th anniversary DVD and I can pick one up. (that would be cool)

  6. 16 Matt Boardman
    May 15, 2012 at 8:52 am

    I hadn’t watched this movie until you posted your blog piece about Cobb’s work on it. I figured, what the heck, I’ll give it a try! It turned out to be a very fun movie! The music was fantastic and there was some nice sword action! Arnold’s acting skills may not be the greatest, but the man can wield a sword!

    Don’t know if you’ve seen this, John, but in case you haven’t, here’s Conan, The Musical for your viewing and listening pleasure: http://youtu.be/OBGOQ7SsJrw ;)

  7. 18 tallguyproductions
    May 15, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Ahhhh, Conan. Not a film that I enjoyed but certainly a film that I enjoy others enjoying, if that makes any sense. You are spot on about the score though. Fantastic. I miss Basil.

    30 years? Good grief. I remember my 7th grade science teacher saw this and adored it. He signed everybody’s yearbook “Conan: The Barbarian”.

    Oh, my. I’m looking at a list of 1982 films. There are movies coming up that I didn’t even know were 1982 movies! You’re going to do “Young Doctors in Love”, right? I saw that trailer every time I saw Wrath of Khan.

  8. 20 JNG
    May 15, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    The score for this film is one of my favorites of all time, tied with Robocop (also by Basil Poledouris).

    • 21 johneaves
      May 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      It is a masterpiece,, i don’t remember robocop though,, Basil also did the score for The Hunt for Red October, and the complete score is brilliant!!!!! you don’t get the scope of his music on the CD that was released in 1990,, It’s hard to find but there are completes out there..

  9. May 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    interesting thought: the ‘warpaint’ patterns conan and crew wear when sneaking into Doom’s secret lair are pretty much useless as camofluage. ironically however they would work extremely well to prevent computerized facial recognition software from identifying them.

  10. 24 deg3d
    May 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    My most viewed film, as I recall around 67 times to date. Long-long-time Conan reader and I too looked sO forward to this film An excellent and comprehensive and well-written rememberance/tribute, bro. Bravo!

    How does the wind ever get in here?

    peace & bananas | deg

    • 25 johneaves
      May 18, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      Really!!! I didn’t know you were a huge Conan fan,, You are truly my long lost brother.

      We would go into the forest to pick wild blueberries

  11. May 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    I got to work with Terry Leonard during production of Fast and Furious and The Green Hornet. He shared several stories about the movie with me. Terry was the 2nd Unit director / stunt coordinator on Conan and worked with Sandahl Bergman, closely, training her to fight and move. Terry was one of the stunt drivers on The Blues Brothers and did the stunt of Indiana Jones going under the truck. A terrific guy, one of the Legends of Hollywood stuntmen. He mentioned to me how he was able to trip the horses in Conan without injuring them, knowing how I care about animal rights, I applauded his efforts. As Conan was taking out bad guys in the end, he did alot of the falls.

  12. 27 jdcombs
    May 18, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Late to the party as usual, but I had to chime in and praise the movie and John for talking it up on its 30th. So much good in “Conan the Barbarian” but for me, the shining stars of the movie are Basil Poledouris’s astonishing score and Ron Cobb’s incredible production design. Ron’s Hyborian Age world is so real, so immersive, and so completely believable that, if someone had told me when I saw this movie at the Strand when I was 9 years old that is was shot on location in the Hyborian Age, I would have believed it. They really don’t make ‘em like this anymore, and that’s everyone’s loss. I went to see the recent Conan reboot/re-imagining/re-whatever and it was made immeasurably better by my humming Basil Poledouris’s “Riders of Doom” to myself during the battle sequences. I should have just taken my mp3 player with me and watched the movie with the soundtrack playing thru my earbuds :)

    • 28 johneaves
      May 18, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      Very nice comments and love your passion for Basil’s work.. It was a magnificent piece of work.. I haven’t worked up the courage to watch the new one… I was hesitant to see the new version of “The Thing” and when I finally did I was so ANGRY!!! I have never been mad at a movie before, BUT I HATED THAT MOVIE!!!! I plan on a full commentary on the 2011 remake soon so if you want to join in, go see this piece of crap instead of “the thing” they should rename it “the turd”

      • 29 jdcombs
        May 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm

        I wish you didn’t feel like you had to keep your true feelings from us, John ;-)

        I skipped 2011 ‘The Thing’ whatever-it-was. I remember it was supposed to be a prequel to Carpenter’s, but then it started to sound like a remake, and then it sounded like it was trying to be both, and I thought “You know, this is going to be nothing but disappointing” so I steered clear. The Conan reboot-re-whatever wasn’t awful, but it paled in comparision to Milius’ take. It lacked that big epic larger than life quality. The ’82 Conan was truly a cinematic experience – there was very little dialogue, and so most of the movie was told through pictures and music – not unlike an opera, really – and without that kind of sweep and grandeur, Conan just seemed small.

      • 30 johneaves
        May 21, 2012 at 10:36 am

        Originally Ron Moore from Star trek and Galactica wrote the prequel script, Universal took it and who knows what happened from there but Ron’s perfect prequel to Carpenters script did not make it to the screen… thanks for the quick review and I still don’t think I’ll go n see the new Conan

      • May 30, 2012 at 4:49 am

        John, whenever you get around to this, call me. I’ll throw in my two-cents worth for an all-out hate-fest. Carpenter’s The Thing is absolutely one of my all-time favorites. The new one… was a giant screen anus sputtering wet poo chunks all over the unsuspecting audience.

  13. 32 darkpsion1
    May 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    There is a special group of movies that I saw edited for TV before I got to see them in their original theatrical release and Conan is one of them. So many of these movies were so much better once I saw them unedited, some were like seeing two different movies.

    Conan is an example of having the perfect people in the perfect roles; actors, music, screenwriters, cinematography, everything just perfect.

  14. 34 brstarship
    May 22, 2012 at 4:12 am

    I do prefer the old Conan movies than the new one.
    Darkpsion wrote exactly what I´m thinking too.

  15. 35 robert minnes
    September 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Okay, call me a dimwitt, call me a underdeveloped species, whatever, but somehow this pic (yeah, how “Arnie” it is) has always remained a quintessential fantasy movie, reminding me of the Frazetta art and such I have not felt since, no matter how excellent those fantasy productions (and enjoying those) were.. So yeah, shoot me. I Like It…


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