Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as the legendary warrior and hero, Conan the Barbarian. When his parents are killed by a band of brutal marauders and the gang’s cold-blooded cult leader (James Earl Jones), the orphaned Conan endures a childhood of merciless slavery only to become a gladiator for the amusement of his captors. Eventually set free, Conan begins a dangerous, full-blooded quest to avenge his parents’ massacre. Now, the sword-wielding warrior must vanquish his bloodthirsty enemies in this death-defying action-adventure about courage, strength, character and the triumph of good over evil.
The film that launched Arnold Schwarzenegger's international career, Conan the Barbarian
is still regarded by many as his finest hour. Limited to a mere handful of lines and expertly directed by John Milius to play up the Nietzschean strength of the character, the Austrian Oak has never looked more suited to a role, his muscle flexing and sword twirling apparently effortless. The extraordinarily finely detailed production design ensures that the barren Spanish countryside perfectly suits the Hyborean-era backdrop envisioned by author Robert E Howard. Whether dressed in rags or riches, Schwarzenegger and companions Subotai (Gerry Lopez) and Valeria (Sandahl Bergman) look believably born to their surroundings. Backing their own very fine performances are brilliant supporting roles from James Earl Jones as serpentine baddie Thulsa Doom and Max Von Sydow as doomed King Osric. Plot-wise the film is simply the transformation of a wild barbarian into a worldly-wise king who, via a quest for revenge, finally learns the riddle of steel. The script is highly regarded for its dazzling set-pieces (the opening village raid, the orgy of body parts) and quotable dialogue ("They shall all drown in lakes of blood"), and it comes complete with an anti-peace movement reactionary subtext for anyone who cares to look closely enough. One other element deserving mention is the extraordinary score by Basil Poledouris, which inspires the film with a sense of operatic grandeur. --Paul Tonks
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.