Conan The Barbarian (1982)

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Conan the Barbarian is a 1982 American epic sword and sorcery film directed by John Milius and written by Milius and Oliver Stone. It is based on the character created by Robert E. Howard. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Earl Jones, and tells the story of a young muscular barbarian warrior named Conan (Schwarzenegger), who seeks vengeance for the death of his parents at the hands of Thulsa Doom (Jones), the leader of a snake cult.

Ideas for a Conan film were proposed as early as 1970; executive producer Edward R. Pressman and associate producer Edward Summer began a concerted effort to get the film made in 1975. It took them two years to obtain the film rights, after which they recruited Schwarzenegger for the lead role and Stone to draft a script. Pressman lacked capital for the endeavor, and in 1979, after having his proposals for investments rejected by the major studios, he sold the project to Dino De Laurentiis; his daughter Raffaella produced the film. Milius was appointed as director and he rewrote Stone's script. The final screenplay integrated scenes from Howard's stories and from the Japanese films Seven Samurai (1954) and Kwaidan (1965). Filming took place in Spain over five months in the regions around Madrid and the province of Almería. The sets, designed by Ron Cobb, were based on Dark Age cultures and Frank Frazetta's paintings of Conan. Milius eschewed optical effects, preferring to realize his ideas with mechanical constructs and optical illusions. Schwarzenegger performed most of his own stunts, and two types of swords, costing $10,000 each, were forged for his character. The editing process took over a year, and several violent scenes were cut out.

Plot[edit | edit source]

A sword is forged by a blacksmith, who then shows it to his young son, Conan, as he tells him of the "Riddle of Steel", an aphorism on the importance of the metal to their people, the Cimmerians. One day, the Cimmerians are massacred by a band of raiders led by Thulsa Doom; Conan's father is killed by dogs, and his sword is taken by Doom to decapitate Conan's mother, aided by Doom's entrancing gaze. The children are taken into slavery and then chained to work a large mill, the Wheel of Pain. Conan survives into adulthood, becoming a massive, muscular man. His master eventually trains him to be a gladiator; after winning countless fights and receiving training and education in the East, Conan is freed. He is soon chased by wild dogs and seeks refuge in an Atlantean colonist warrior's tomb, where he retrieves an ancient sword. Conan wanders the world, encountering a prophetic witch in a hut and then befriends Subotai, a Hyrkanian thief and archer.

Following the witch's advice, Conan and Subotai go to the city of Zamora to seek out Doom. There, they meet Valeria, a female brigand. They raid the Tower of Serpents, stealing jewels and other valuables from a shrine, slaying a giant snake in the process. After escaping with their loot, the thieves celebrate, and Conan has sex with Valeria. The city guards capture the trio and bring them to King Osric, who requests they rescue his daughter, Princess Yasimina – now a zealot in Doom's cult – for a handsome reward. Subotai and Valeria refuse to take up the quest; Conan, however, motivated by his hatred for Doom and his desire for vengeance, sets off alone to the villain's Temple of Set.

Disguised as a priest, Conan infiltrates the temple, but he is discovered, captured, and tortured. Doom lectures him on the power of flesh, which he demonstrates by hypnotically enticing a girl to leap to her death. He then orders for Conan to be crucified on the Tree of Woe. The barbarian is on the verge of death when he is discovered by Subotai and brought to Akiro, the Wizard of the Mounds, who lives on a burial site for warriors and kings. The wizard summons spirits to heal Conan and warns that they will "extract a heavy toll", which Valeria is willing to pay. These spirits also try to abduct Conan, but he is restored to health after Valeria and Subotai fend them off.

Subotai and Valeria agree to help Conan complete Osric's quest and infiltrate the Temple of Set. As the cult indulges in a cannibalistic orgy, the thieves attack and flee with the princess, but Conan is unable to engage Doom, who has magically transformed into a large snake and slithered away. Valeria is mortally wounded by Doom after he shoots a stiffened snake at her. She dies in Conan's arms, acknowledging the price of the "toll" forewarned by the wizard in exchange for Conan's life, and is cremated at the Mounds, where Conan prepares with Subotai and the wizard to battle Doom. Conan asks Crom, the god of his people, to grant him revenge. By using booby traps and exploiting the terrain, they manage to slay Doom's warriors when they arrive. Just when Rexor is about to overcome Conan, Valeria reappears for a brief moment as a Valkyrie to save him from the mortal blow. After losing his men, Doom shoots a stiffened snake at the princess, but Subotai blocks the shot with his shield and the villain flees to his temple. The battle ends with Conan having recovered his father's sword from his enemies, a sword splintered by his own hand in battle.

Conan sneaks back to the temple where Doom is addressing the members of his cult. He confronts Doom, who receives him with open arms and attempts to mesmerize him, but the barbarian resists and uses his father's broken sword to behead his nemesis. After the disillusioned cultists disperse, Conan burns down the temple and returns the princess to Osric.

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