the Barbarian" on DVD
Conan the Barbarian
was a labor of love from director John Milius and and co-writer Oliver
Stone and, though the film seems a tad ponderous and pretentious, the
fondness for the subject shines through brightly.
was also Arnold Schwarzeneggers first major star vehicle and, though
he speaks only a few lines (Conan being the strong, silent type), his
screen presence is obvious.
As a young boy, Conan
witnesses the sacking of this village and the murder of his parents (the
death of his mother is a very powerful shot, yet tastefully done) by the
evil Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) and his forces. Hes carted off
to a life of slavery and eventually, thanks to Conan being a big, hulking,
muscular brute (though later we learn has also has a brain, too), hes
trained as a gladiator and becomes a champion at the sport.
Freed one day, circumstances
bring him together with Subotai the Mongol (Jerry Lopez) and Valeria,
Queen of Thieves (Sandahl Bergman) and, eventually, a magician/healer
(Mako, who also narrates the film). Subotai and Valeria join Conans
quest for vengeance, a quest that broadens to include a rescue mission
when theyre charged by King Osric (Max von Sydow) to reclaim his
daughter from the cult-like clutches of Sulfa Doom.
This sword and sorcery
epic is far more sword than sorcery, which certainly cuts back on the
special effects budget. The Hyborean Age in which Conan is
set was a violent time and director Milius has focused on it at the expense
of the more mystical aspects.
and to be fair there is enough magic in the air to keep one relatively
edition DVD looks and sounds great, though the audio is only in Dolby
Digital 2.0 monaural. The widescreen picture is wonderful, however and,
though the DVD isnt a THX-certified release, the picture quality
is such that it might as well have been.
Edition, as with most of them, has lots of extras to keep Conan
fans sitting with rapt attention, their remote controls at the ready.
The film itself has
been extended by a few minutes, and you get bonus items like a documentary
(Conan Unchained, the Making of Conan) as well as feature
commentary with director Milius and star Schwarzenegger. There are also
deleted scenes, a section on the films special effects, The
Conan Archives, and of course theatrical trailer. Theres also
a decent liner essay inside the box.
Conan the Destroyer
was a more entertaining film than this, the original Conan epic (this
film is more of an origin story whereas the sequel doesnt
have to build that background and can get straight into the havoc), but
Conan the Barbarian is a decent sword and sorcery epic
and its kind of neat to see the you Arnold Schwarzenegger again,
back in the days when his movie career was just beginning.
Conan the Barbarian,
from Universal Home Video
129 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital mono
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Sandahl Bergman, Ben
Davidson, Cassandra Caviola, Gerry Lopez, Mako
Produced by Buzz Feitshans and Raffaella de Laurentiis
Written by John Milius and Oliver Stone, Directed by John Milius
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