Conan the Barbarian [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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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 to play up the Nietzschean strength of the character by John Milius, 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 close enough. One other element deserving mention is the extraordinary score by Basil Poledouris, which inspires the film with a sense of operatic grandeur.
On the DVD: Conan the Barbarian appears as a suitably mythic special edition DVD. Sadly the magnificent score can only be heard in a mono mix, but the very fine picture is presented in 2.35:1. The extras package is phenomenal, too. Several deleted scenes have been re-edited into the film, but are available to view independently as well. There's a quick split-screen special effects feature showing how the ghostly spirits were added to Conan's resurrection. "The Conan Archives" is an 11-minute slide show of drawings, costumes and advertising. Best of all is the fantastic 53-minute "Conan Unchained" documentary interviewing every conceivable contributor who all reminisce with great fondness. It's slightly better seeing Schwarzenegger and Milius than hearing them talk in their commentary, which inevitably re-tells many of the same anecdotes in between puffs of Arnie's stogies. --Paul Tonks --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The legendary soundtrack is now rendered (at last!)in pure DTS sound providing 5.1 channel perfection and it sounds incredible!
The special features from the 2003 'Special Edition' are reproduced here, with the only new feature (not history of fantasy films as advertised)being a short history of Conan with interviews with various fantasy writers, including those who worked on Marvels comic book adaption, Artists and the great James Earl Jones.
'Conan the Barbarian: Collectors Edition' delivers the goods, and if it were not for the daft censorship of BBFC butchering parts of this glorious film, then I would be quite comfortable in labeling this as Cinematic perfection.
This DVD is a must for your collection and I insist you order now!
As for the new hi-def transfer, it's sort of a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that, for the most part, this presents a very pleasing and filmic viewing experience. There are no DNR issues to report (at least none that I could detect), and film grain has been rightfully preserved. This is quite a soft-looking film by nature - the same goes for most 80s movies - but there is still a decent amount of fine detail to be spotted.
BUT, the bad news: edge enhancement. It sticks out like a sore thumb, I'm afraid, and can be very distracting in certain scenes. Just watch the early sequence where Thulsa Doom lops off Conan's mother's head. When the young Barbarian looks unbelievably at his now motherless hand, his fingers are surrounded by jarring, thick white bars.
So a little disappointing, but certainly not a deal breaker. As previously stated, it generally looks fine, and is the best the film has looked since its orginal release. I have no complaints about the revamped HD sound, however. This is Poledouris at his most thunderous/tender/epic/enchanting, I could go on.
I guess the extras do deserve a mention.Read more ›
I like a lot of fans have previously owned Conan the Barbarian on VHS (way back when...) and again on DVD. Upon watching this version I have seen details that I have never seen before. The scene where Conan is crucified on the tree of woe, for example, you can see the individual grains of sand on his chest as he is dying. The sound too is great, the metalic clash of swords and those meaty 'thunks' as bodies are cleaved are very clear.
I've just began watching the bonus features but it looks like all of the features from the DVD Se edition are included plus some new content as well.
I just hope the new version of Conan due out soon lives up to its predecesor.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gradually replacing my old video tapes, this DVD is still a good movie today. Arnie took some early criticism for his film parts but they stand the test if time and many have... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dr. Michael J. Atkins
This is a great improvement visually and audibly on my old VHS copy.As other reviewers have said the soundtrack is outstanding. Read morePublished 2 months ago by roger savarez
One of my favourite Arnie films. I had this on DVD and wanted the Blu-ray version. I am pleased with this purchase.Published 2 months ago by Wayne Fergie