Conan the Barbarian (1982)

R | 126 mins | Adventure, Fantasy | 1982

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HISTORY

Conan the Barbarian opens with the following onscreen prologue: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger. – Friedrich Nietzsche.” Voiceover narration by Mako, in character as “The Wizard” is heard throughout the film. The film closes with a voice over and onscreen written epilogue stating that years later, the prophecy was fulfilled and Conan became king. According to a 4 Jun 1980 Var article, Conan the Barbarian had been in various stages of development since 1977. The article relates the film’s long pre-production history: Executive producer Edward Pressman, placed the project into development at Universal with Arnold Schwarzenegger set to star. Scripting and directing duties were negotiated with John Milius, but before Milius began work on the script, he withdrew to co-write and direct Big Wednesday for Warner Bros. Pressman then took the project to Paramount and hired Oliver Stone to work up a script based on the Robert E. Howard “Conan” stories, to which Pressman had negotiated the complex rights. After the film went into turn-around at Paramount, Milius, who had contractual obligations with producer Dino De Laurentiis, continued to express interest in the Conan project. When De Laurentiis joined Pressman in 1979, the project returned to Universal. Milius reworked the Stone script and, the article indicates, production was to commence in Yugoslavia, Spain and England by the end of 1980. A 12 May 1980 LAT new items noted that political turmoil resulting from the death of the president of Yugoslavia, as well as various production problems, caused the start of shooting to be delayed to Jan 1981. A 28 ... More Less

Conan the Barbarian opens with the following onscreen prologue: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger. – Friedrich Nietzsche.” Voiceover narration by Mako, in character as “The Wizard” is heard throughout the film. The film closes with a voice over and onscreen written epilogue stating that years later, the prophecy was fulfilled and Conan became king. According to a 4 Jun 1980 Var article, Conan the Barbarian had been in various stages of development since 1977. The article relates the film’s long pre-production history: Executive producer Edward Pressman, placed the project into development at Universal with Arnold Schwarzenegger set to star. Scripting and directing duties were negotiated with John Milius, but before Milius began work on the script, he withdrew to co-write and direct Big Wednesday for Warner Bros. Pressman then took the project to Paramount and hired Oliver Stone to work up a script based on the Robert E. Howard “Conan” stories, to which Pressman had negotiated the complex rights. After the film went into turn-around at Paramount, Milius, who had contractual obligations with producer Dino De Laurentiis, continued to express interest in the Conan project. When De Laurentiis joined Pressman in 1979, the project returned to Universal. Milius reworked the Stone script and, the article indicates, production was to commence in Yugoslavia, Spain and England by the end of 1980. A 12 May 1980 LAT new items noted that political turmoil resulting from the death of the president of Yugoslavia, as well as various production problems, caused the start of shooting to be delayed to Jan 1981. A 28 Jan 1981 HR production item notes that shooting began that month exclusively in Spain. According to a 27 Jan 1981 DV Sandahl Bergman nearly lost a finger in a swordfight accident with a stunt person.
       The Aug 1981 New York magazine states that the film's release was delayed from Christmas 1981 to Spring 1982 following a screening for Universal executives, with speculation being that the executives found the film too violent. A Universal official denied any connection between the delay and the film's violence, stating that "the film simply needs a lot of work." Time magazine critic Richard Schickel gave a negative review of the film, concluding that "Conan is a sort of psychopathic Star Wars , stupid and stupefying." Var would go on to give Conan a negative review as well, stating that "the uninitiated will once again marvel at how a picture as monumentally boring and un-centered as this ever captures the fancy of anyone."
       Popular reception for Conan was largely positive. A 19 May 1982 LAT article gave opening weekend box office figures of approximately $10 million and noted that the figures were remarkable given that the film was not released during a holiday or vacation period. The same article describes Humane Society-backed protests of the film for the alleged unethical treatment of animals.
       Conan the Barbarian won a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture - Female (Sandahl Bergman). Bergman also won Best Actress in the 1983 Saturn Awards. The film was followed by a sequel, Conan the Destroyer , released by Universal in 1984 with Schwarzenegger and Mako reprising their roles, and directed by Richard Fleischer. Schwarzenegger played a similar character to Conan in United Artist’s 1985, Red Sonja, which re-teamed him with Sandahl Bergman and director Fleischer, and utilized several of Robert E. Howard’s original characters from the Conan stories.


The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and notes were written by participant Graham Rhodes, a student at Georgia Institute of Technology, with Vinicius Navarro as academic advisor.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Jan 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1982
p. 32.
Los Angeles Times
12 May 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 May 1982
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
19 May 1982.
---
New York
Aug 1981.
---
New York Times
15 May 1982
p. 13.
Variety
4 Jun 1980.
---
Variety
17 Mar 1982
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
1st asst dir
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Asst dir-crowd coord
Crowd coord asst
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
Transport mgr
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photo, 2d unit
Cam op
Cam op, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Cam service
Cam maintenance
Still photog
Still photog
Key grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Prod artist
Travelling matte consultant
FILM EDITORS
Supv asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Const mgr
Const mgr
Prop master
Prop buyer
Propman
Propman
Sword maker
Chief sculptor
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Ward supv
Ward master
Ward master
Ward asst
Headdress maker
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Tempo editing
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Loop dial ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Sd ed
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd dept asst
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff floor supv
Spec eff chief tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec visual eff
Miniatures
Title art
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Spec eff makeup supv
Spec eff makeup
Makeup and hair supv
Chief hairdresser
Makeup asst to Miss Bergman
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr, 2d unit
Scr supv
Continuity, 2d unit
Casting assoc
Unit pub
Secy to Mr. Milius
Secy to Miss De Laurentiis
Prod secy
Prod office coord
Asst to Mr. Feitshans
Prod office asst
Prod office asst
Supv accountant
Chief prod accountant
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Prod accountant asst
Prod accountant asst
Spiritual adv
Prod research
Loc mgr
Transport mgr
Transport mgr
Loc coord
Animal handler
Snake trainer
Serpents expert
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Master of the sword
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
ANIMATION
Anim visual eff
Anim opticals
Anim opticals
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the character created by Robert E. Howard.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1982
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 14 May 1982
Production Date:
in Spain
Copyright Claimant:
Dino DeLaurentiis Corporation
Copyright Date:
2 July 1982
Copyright Number:
PA141425
Physical Properties:
Sound
Todd-AO
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
126
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26520
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In prehistoric times, a young Cimmerian peasant boy, Conan, learns from his blacksmith father the significance of their god, Crom, and the reliability of steel. Soon after, Vanir raiders led by warlord Thulsa Doom ransack the peasant village, and Conan's parents are killed, the family sword is stolen and Conan is enslaved. After years of hard work turning a mill wheel, the strong Conan is selected to be a gladiator. His success brings him education as a sword master as well as in the written word. Upon unexpectedly receiving his freedom from his long time captor, Conan runs away and stumbles upon Crom’s crypt where he discovers his family sword. Soon after, Conan is invited into a hut by a woman who demands sex in exchange for a prophecy. Conan complies and the woman reveals that Conan will one day become king. The woman also admits that she is a witch and when she attempts to murder Conan, he pushes her into the fire where her spirit escapes in the smoke. The next day, Conan finds Subotai, an archer and thief from Hyrkania, chained outside the hut and frees him. The men become friends and travel to a large village at the center of which is a large temple dedicated to the snake god, Set, whose followers form a religious sect filled with deceivers and murderers. Drunkenly deciding to rob the temple of its valuables, Conan and Subotai encounter Valeria, a reckless fellow thief also intent on breaking into the temple. Conan discovers a large glittering red jewel, but in order to reach it must kill an enormous serpent guardian. After the ... +


In prehistoric times, a young Cimmerian peasant boy, Conan, learns from his blacksmith father the significance of their god, Crom, and the reliability of steel. Soon after, Vanir raiders led by warlord Thulsa Doom ransack the peasant village, and Conan's parents are killed, the family sword is stolen and Conan is enslaved. After years of hard work turning a mill wheel, the strong Conan is selected to be a gladiator. His success brings him education as a sword master as well as in the written word. Upon unexpectedly receiving his freedom from his long time captor, Conan runs away and stumbles upon Crom’s crypt where he discovers his family sword. Soon after, Conan is invited into a hut by a woman who demands sex in exchange for a prophecy. Conan complies and the woman reveals that Conan will one day become king. The woman also admits that she is a witch and when she attempts to murder Conan, he pushes her into the fire where her spirit escapes in the smoke. The next day, Conan finds Subotai, an archer and thief from Hyrkania, chained outside the hut and frees him. The men become friends and travel to a large village at the center of which is a large temple dedicated to the snake god, Set, whose followers form a religious sect filled with deceivers and murderers. Drunkenly deciding to rob the temple of its valuables, Conan and Subotai encounter Valeria, a reckless fellow thief also intent on breaking into the temple. Conan discovers a large glittering red jewel, but in order to reach it must kill an enormous serpent guardian. After the thieves escape from the temple with various priceless jewels, Conan seduces Valeria. Reveling in their newfound wealth, Conan, Valeria and Subotai fall prey to excessive drunkenness and are easily taken by soldiers of King Osric, who promises the thieves great fortune if they can bring down Thulsa Doom, who has enslaved the king's daughter. Valeria urges Conan to avoid Doom, who resides in a "mountain of power" with a thousand loyal followers, but Conan cannot forget Thulsa's crimes and sets out after him on his own. After days of traveling, Conan comes upon a solitary wizard who befriends him and tells him of Doom’s presence nearby. Conan arrives at the outskirts of Doom's fortress and masquerades as a religious follower to lead a priest away from the group. Knocking out the priest, Conan dons the priest's costume and attempts to blend in with an audience of cultists at one of Doom's speeches. Conan’s unusual stature is quickly noticed, however, and he is taken, tortured and then brought before the cult leader. Doom chides Conan for his actions against his religious followers and Conan accuses him of murdering his father. Unmoved, Doom tells Conan his own personal philosophy that while steel is strong, flesh is stronger and illustrates this principle by beckoning to a follower on the cliffs who readily jumps to her death to be near him. At Doom’s order, Conan is left tied to the “Tree of Woe” in the desert and is near death before being rescued by Subotai and Valeria, who take him to the wizard for treatment. That night, Subotai, Valeria, and the wizard join together to fend off the spirits of death and save Conan's life. After Valeria pledges her devotion to Conan, the friends plot to steal King Osric's daughter from Doom's mountain fortress. After preparing themselves, Conan, Valeria and Subotai sneak into Doom's harem and stage an attack during a service in which Doom turns into an enormous serpent. As Conan and Subatai kill many of Doom's men, Valeria battles her way to the princess and unchains her. As the group escapes, Doom, now returned to human form, fires a snake-arrow at the fleeing party, mortally wounding Valeria. Before dying, she claims her death is the repayment to the gods for Conan's life. Conan and Subotai decide that, instead of running, they will set an ambush for their pursuers with help from the wizard. Before the battle that ensues, Conan prays to his god Crom for revenge. Doom's men fall to the thieves' weapons and carefully laid traps, and Conan defeats Doom's high priest with help from the specter of Valeria. Doom retreats after attempting to silence the princess with a snake arrow, which Subotai deflects. That night, Conan confronts Thulsa Doom during a ceremony at his temple. Doom asserts that, since he shaped Conan's life to such a great degree, he is Conan's true father. Conan rejects the assertion and beheads the warlord with the family sword. Victorious, Conan holds Doom's head aloft to the crowd, which upon realizing Doom's mortality, quickly disperses. Conan hurls away his sword, sets Doom's temple afire and begins the return journey to bring the princess back to King Osric. Over time the prophecy is fulfilled when Conan becomes king. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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