“Conan! What is best in life?” “To crash your enemies, see dem driven before you and to hear duh lamentation of der women.”
It might open with a quote from Nietzsche (“That which does not kill us makes us stronger”), but Conan The Barbarian’s pleasures are much, much simpler: occult nudity, hacking violence, midgets wrestling with pigs and Arnold Schwarzenegger punching a camel.
Three years after his script sent Coppola mad in the jungle, Apocalypse Now writer John Milius directed his own movie about a warrior on a quest to slay a charismatic cult leader. But there’s no heart of darkness in this ridiculously enjoyable pulp-fantasy, just a lot of sword-swinging, snake-slaying and hardcore male empowerment.
Brutally orphaned within the first few minutes, the Austrian Oak is the slave who became a gladiator, who became a movie star. Growing into an enormous hulk despite no nutrition and pushing a wooden wheel in a circle for 10 years, Conan is hired to rescue Max von Sydow’s runaway daughter from the very warlock (James Earl Jones) who chopped up Conan’s parents.
That’s about it from Milius and Oliver Stone’s peculiar script, which wisely hands Arnie minimum dialogue and maximum destruction. From their bemused audio commentary, Milius and Schwarzenegger seem to realise they took it all far too seriously back then.
Most of the extras are DVD carry-overs, some newly unearthed vintage interviews and a featurette on Conan’s sword. The Blu-ray transfer, meanwhile, is almost as buffed-up as the big man himself.
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