1982 – Conan the Barbarian

by Alan Rapp on May 16, 2019

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Conan the Barbarian
  • IMDb: link

Conan the Barbarian reviewToday’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to harsh lands of Cimmeria, the days of high adventure, and a barbarian known as Conan. On or around this date 37 years ago Arnold Schwarzenegger hit the big screen in the first of several iconic roles which would transform the former body builder into a movie star. Based on the character and stories created by Robert E. Howard, Conan the Barbarian offers an origin story for a barbarian thief raised in slavery and his quest to avenge the death of his parents by the wizard Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones).

More one-dimensional than his comic counterpart, this Conan lacks the wit found on the printed page as he stumbles through the various obstacles put in front of him. From his journey of slave, to gladiator, to wandering barbarian, Conan picks up companions in the beautiful Valeria (Sandahl Bergman), the wizard Akiro (Mako), and the archer Subotai (Gerry Lopez). The film is hardly the stuff of great cinema, and some of its elements and effects have aged better than others, but more than three decades later it still retains its charm (including Jones’ reptilian villain turn, some enjoyable action sequences, and the memorable score by Basil Poledouris).

The movie has been released on home video several times, on DVD, Blu-ray, and later 4K. Extras include commentary by Schwarzenegger and director John Milius, various behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, and a collection of production art. It may not be the stuff of legend, but it has a mix of stoicism and goofy humor (not always intentional) that allows it to work better than it should. Though it lacks the stunning beauty Olivia d’Abo to be found in its sequel, it’s certainly a more complete film than the problematic Conan the Destroyer.

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