Conan the Barbarian - the Barbarian (2003)
Front Cover Actor
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sandahl Bergman
Movie Details
Genre Action; Adventure; Fantasy
Director John Milius
Language English
Running Time 129 mins
Country USA
Color Color
Plot
The film that launched Arnold Schwarzenegger's international career, Conan the Barbarian is still regarded by many as his finest hour. Limited to a mere handful of lines and expertly directed to play up the Nietzschean strength of the character by John Milius, the Austrian Oak has never looked more suited to a role, his muscle flexing and sword twirling apparently effortless. The extraordinarily finely detailed production design ensures that the barren Spanish countryside perfectly suits the Hyborean-era backdrop envisioned by author Robert E Howard. Whether dressed in rags or riches, Schwarzenegger and companions Subotai (Gerry Lopez) and Valeria (Sandahl Bergman) look believably born to their surroundings. Backing their own very fine performances are brilliant supporting roles from James Earl Jones as serpentine baddie Thulsa Doom and Max Von Sydow as doomed King Osric.

Plot-wise the film is simply the transformation of a wild barbarian into a worldly-wise king who, via a quest for revenge, finally learns the riddle of steel. The script is highly regarded for its dazzling set-pieces (the opening village raid, the orgy of body parts) and quotable dialogue ("They shall all drown in lakes of blood"), and it comes complete with an anti-peace movement reactionary subtext for anyone who cares to look close enough. One other element deserving mention is the extraordinary score by Basil Poledouris, which inspires the film with a sense of operatic grandeur.

On the DVD: Conan the Barbarian appears as a suitably mythic special edition DVD. Sadly the magnificent score can only be heard in a mono mix, but the very fine picture is presented in 2.35:1. The extras package is phenomenal, too. Several deleted scenes have been re-edited into the film, but are available to view independently as well. There's a quick split-screen special effects feature showing how the ghostly spirits were added to Conan's resurrection. "The Conan Archives" is an 11-minute slide show of drawings, costumes and advertising. Best of all is the fantastic 53-minute "Conan Unchained" documentary interviewing every conceivable contributor who all reminisce with great fondness. It's slightly better seeing Schwarzenegger and Milius than hearing them talk in their commentary, which inevitably re-tells many of the same anecdotes in between puffs of Arnie's stogies. --Paul Tonks

Personal Details
My Rating 10
Seen It Yes
Index 28
In Collection Yes
Location Home
Owner Olavo Lira
Product Details
Format DVD
Region Region 1
Release Date 2003
Nr of Disks/Tapes 1
Extra Features
PAL Widescreen