A young boy, Conan, becomes a slave after his parents are killed and tribe destroyed by a savage warlord and sorcerer, Thulsa Doom. When he grows up he becomes a fearless, invincible fighter. Set free, he plots revenge against Thulsa Doom.
James Earl Jones,
Max von Sydow
Conan Unchained: The Making Of "Conan The Barbarian" (V) (Laurent Bouzereau, 2000) **1/2
This is a competent, fairly lengthy but hardly exhaustive documentary on the subject by renowned film-maker/historian Bouzereau. It should perhaps have dug deeper into the history of Conan – creator Robert E. Howard (and his personal demons) is only mentioned in passing; ditto for the influence maverick illustrator Frank Frazetta had on the mythology behind the character (and the fictionalized era which he inhabited) – not to mention the film’s sequel, or its own place within the whole sword-and-sorcery cycle prevalent during the early 1980s!
Still, several of the main contributors (both behind and in front of the camera) have their say about the film: at the forefront, of course, are John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger – but it also goes on to interview Oliver Stone and Max von Sydow (who, of his performance, recalls best his bloody death scene which remained on the cutting-room floor!). The documentary also deals with the painstaking production – from the film’s elaborate sets to its choreographed swordplay, and even touches upon the creation of CONAN THE BARBARIAN’s special effects (here the speakers felt the need to remind the audience that these were done in the days before CGI). However, some discussion on critical reaction to the film at the time of its release – and how it has worn the passage of time – should not have been amiss.
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