Conan the Barbarian

May 14th, 1982

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Conan the Barbarian

The epic tale of child sold into slavery who grows into a man who seeks revenge against the warlord who massacred his tribe.

Release Year: 1982

Rating: 6.8/10 (57,232 voted)

Critic's Score: 43/100

Director: John Milius

Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow

A barbarian trained in the arts of war joins with thieves in a quest to solve the riddle of steel and find the sorcerer responsible for the genocide of his people in this faithful adaptation of Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery adventures. This film briefly sparked a wave of fantasy films including the sequel, Conan the Destroyer, in the early 80s.

Writers: Robert E. Howard, John Milius

Arnold Schwarzenegger - Conan
James Earl Jones - Thulsa Doom
Max von Sydow - King Osric
Sandahl Bergman - Valeria
Ben Davidson - Rexor
Cassandra Gava - The Witch (as Cassandra Gaviola)
Gerry Lopez - Subotai
Mako - The Wizard / Narrator
Valérie Quennessen - The Princess
William Smith - Conan's Father
Luis Barboo - Red Hair
Franco Columbu - Pictish Scout
Leslie Foldvary - Sacrificial Snake Girl
Gary Herman - Osric's Guard
Erik Holmey - Turanian War Officer (as Erick Holmey)

Taglines: He conquered an empire with his sword. She conquered HIM with her bare hands.

Release Date: 14 May 1982

Filming Locations: Almería, Andalucía, Spain

Box Office Details

Budget: $20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $9,603,139 (USA) (14 May 1982) (1 Screen)

Gross: $68,851,475 (Worldwide) (1982)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The dynamic score by Basil Poledouris has been frequently used by other filmmakers as temp tracks in other films. It has also been frequently used in advance trailers and TV spots for other films.

Crew or equipment visible: When Conan emerges from the crypt and cuts his leg irons, a hand can be seen reaching up to snatch the chain out of the way. (No hand can be seen on the R2 DVD special edition.)

[first lines]
Title Card: That which does not kill us makes us stronger - Friedrich Nietzsche

User Review

Not to be overlooked

Rating: 10/10

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 me.

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.

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