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Conan The Barbarian

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VHS | SP | Slipcase
115 mins (NTSC)
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Conan The Barbarian (1982)

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Additional Information
He conquered an empire with his sword. She conquered HIM with her bare hands.

Slave. Barbarian. Warrior. Thief... Conan.

Thief Warrior Gladiator King

John Milius's jingoistic direction and pulpy screenplay fit perfectly into this film version of the Robert E. Howard fantasy story of the sword and sorcery hero, Conan the Barbarian. Complementing Mulius's heavy metal production is Arnold Schwarzenegger's leaden acting, which in any other context would be deadly, but here (as in The Terminator) corresponds nicely with the whole sonorous project. The story begins when a horde of rampaging warriors massacre the parents of young Conan and enslave the young child for years on The Wheel of Pain. The Wheel of Pain seems to have as its only purpose the building up of Conan's muscles, so it's no surprise that one day Conan grows up to become Arnold Schwarzenegger. As the sole survivor of the childhood massacre, Conan is released from slavery and taught the ancient arts of fighting. Transforming himself into a killing machine, Conan travels into the wilderness to seek vengeance on Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), the man responsible for killing his family. In the wilderness, Conan takes up with the thieves Valeria (Sandahl Bergman) and Subota (Gerry Lopez). The trio comes upon a weird snake cult, linked to Doom, and Conan wants to trek off to Doom's mountain retreat to kill him. But he is prevented from doing that by King Osrik (Max Von Sydow), who wants the trio of warriors to help rescue his daughter who has joined Doom in the hills.

Conan the Barbarian is a 1982 sword and sorcery/adventure film directed and co-written by John Milius. It is based on stories by Robert E. Howard, a pulp fiction writer of the 1930s, about the adventures of the eponymous character in a fictional pre-historic world of dark magic and savagery. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Earl Jones, and tells the story of a young barbarian (Schwarzenegger) who seeks vengeance for the death of his parents at the hands of Thulsa Doom (Jones), the leader of a snake cult. Buzz Feitshans and Raffaella De Laurentiis produced the film for her father Dino De Laurentiis. Basil Poledouris composed the music.
Ideas for a Conan film were proposed as early as 1970. A concerted effort by executive producer Edward R. Pressman and associate producer Edward Summer to produce the film started in 1975. It took them two years to obtain the film rights, after which they recruited Schwarzenegger for the lead role and Oliver Stone to draft a script. Pressman lacked capital for the endeavor, and in 1979, after having his proposals for investments rejected by the major studios, he sold the project to Dino De Laurentiis. Milius was appointed as director and he rewrote Stone's script. The final screenplay integrated scenes from Howard's stories and from films such as Kwaidan and Seven Samurai.
Filming took place in Spain over five months, in the regions around Madrid and Almería. The sets, designed by Ron Cobb, were based on Dark Age cultures and Frank Frazetta's paintings of Conan. Milius eschewed optical effects, preferring to realize his ideas with mechanical constructs and optical illusions. Schwarzenegger performed most of his own stunts and two types of swords, costing $10,000 each, were forged for his character. The editing process took over a year and several violent scenes were cut.
Conan was a commercial success for its backers, grossing more than $100 million at box-offices around the world, although the revenue fell short of the level that would qualify the film as a blockbuster. Academics and critics interpreted the film as advancing the themes of fascism or individualism, and the fascist angle featured in most of the criticisms of the film. Critics also negatively reviewed Schwarzenegger's acting and the film's violent scenes. Despite the criticisms, Conan was popular with young males. The film earned Schwarzenegger worldwide recognition. Conan has been frequently released on home media, the sales of which had increased the film's gross to more than $300 million by 2007. The film's popularity led to the sequel Conan the Destroyer (1984).

In 1980, the producers began advertising to publicize the film. Teaser posters were put up in theaters across the United States. The posters reused Frazetta's artwork that was commissioned for the cover of Conan the Adventurer (1966).[206][207] Laurentiis wanted Conan the Barbarian to start playing in cinemas at Christmas, 1981,[208] but Universal executives requested further editing after they previewed a preliminary version of the film in August. A Hollywood insider said the executives were concerned about the film's portrayal of violence. The premiere was delayed until the following year so changes could be made.[209] Many scenes were excised from Thulsa Doom's attack on Conan's village, including the close-up shots on the decapitated head of Conan's mother;[79] the late notice of the changes forced Poledouris to quickly adjust his score before recording music for the sequence.[159] Other scenes of violence that were cut included Subotai's slaying of a monster at the top of the Tower of Serpents and Conan chopping off a pickpocket's arm in a bazaar.[210] Milius intended to show a 140-minute story; the final release ran 129 minutes.[5] According to Cobb, the total production expenses approached $20 million by the time the film was released.[99]
The United States' public were offered a sneak preview on February 19, 1982, in Houston, Texas. In the following month, previews were held in 30 cities across the country. In Washington D.C., the mass of moviegoers formed long lines that spanned streets, causing traffic jams. Tickets were quickly sold out in Denver, and 1,000 people had to be turned away in Houston. The majority of those in the lines were male; a moviegoer in Los Angeles said, "The audience was mostly white, clean-cut and high-school or college age. It was not the punk or heavy-leather crowd, but an awful lot of them had bulging muscles."[211] On March 16, Conan the Barbarian had its worldwide premiere at Fotogramas de Plata, an annual cinema awards ceremony in Madrid,[212] and began its general release in Spain and France a month later.[213][214] Twentieth Century Fox handled the foreign distribution of the film.[215] Universal originally scheduled Conan's official release in the United States for the weekend before Memorial Day[216]—the start of the film industry's summer season when schools close for a month-long holiday.[217] To avoid competition with other big-budget, high-profile films, the studio advanced the release of Conan the Barbarian and on May 14, 1982, the film officially opened in 1,400 theaters across North America.[

The media's reactions toward Conan were polarized. Aspects of the film heavily criticized by one side were regarded in a positive light by the other; Professor Gunden pointed out that "for every positive review the film garnered, it received two negative ones."[218] The opinions of Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times and Richard Schickel of Time magazine illustrate their colleagues' divided views. Ebert called Conan the Barbarian "a perfect fantasy for the alienated preadolescent"[34] whereas Schickel said, "Conan is a sort of psychopathic Star Wars, stupid and stupefying." [219] Although reviews were mixed at the time of the film's release, many modern critics review the film more positively, giving the film an aggregate score of 77% on film review website Rotten Tomatoes.[220]
Blood spews from the severed right arm of a fanged gorilla as Conan latches on to the beast and stabs at it with a sword. A topless woman witnesses the scene.

Critics said there was too much violence in the movie, or the violence failed to match up to Howard's portrayals (as illustrated by Hugh Rankin in Weird Tales).
At the time Conan was released, the media were inclined to condemn Hollywood's portrayals of violence; typical action films showed the hero attaining his goals by killing all who stood in his way.[5][221] Conan was particularly condemned for its violent scenes,[215][221] which Newsweek's Jack Kroll called "cheerless and styleless".[36] In one of his articles for the San Francisco Chronicle, Stu Schreiberg counted 50 people killed in various scenes.[222] Other film critics differed over the film's portrayal of violence. David Denby wrote in his review for New York magazine that the action scenes were one of the film's few positive features; however, exciting as the scenes were, those such as the decapitation of Conan's mother seemed inane.[3] On the other hand, Vincent Canby, Carlos Clarens, and Pascal Mérigeau were unanimous in their opinion that the film's depicted violence failed to meet their expectations: the film's pacing and Howard's stories suggested more gory material.[214][223][224] According to Paul Sammon, Milius's cuts to assuage concerns over the violence made the scenes "cartoon-like".[5]
Comparison with the source material also produced varying reactions among the critics. Danny Peary and Schickel expected a film based on pulp stories and comic books to be light-hearted or corny, and Milius's introduction of Nietzschean themes and ideology did not sit well with them.[23][219] Others were not impressed with Milius's handling of his ideas; James Wolcott called it heavy-handed and Kroll said the material lacked substance in its implementation.[36][181] The themes of individualism and paganism, however, resonated with many in the audience; the concept of a warrior who relies only on his own prowess and will to conquer the obstacles in his way found favor with young males.[225] Wolcott wrote in Texas Monthly that these themes appeal to "98-pound weaklings who want to kick sand into bullies' faces and win the panting adoration of a well-oiled beach bunny".[181] Kroll's opinion was that the audience loved the violence and carnage but were cynical about the "philosophical bombast."[36] While popular with audiences, the theatrical treatment of the barbarian was rejected by hardcore fans and scholars of Howard's stories. A particular point of contention was the film's version of Conan's origin, which is at odds with Howard's hints about the character's youth.[226] Their point of view is supported by Kerry Brougher,[227] but Derek Elley, Clarens, and Sammon said Milius was faithful to the ideology behind Howard's work.[96][118][228]
Arnold Schwarzenegger's performance was frequently mentioned in the critiques.[215] Clarens, Peary, Gunden and Nigel Andrews were among those who gave positive assessments of the former bodybuilder's acting: to them, he was physically convincing as the barbarian in his body movements and appearance.[23][224][229][230] Andrews added that Schwarzenegger exuded a certain charm—with his accent mangling his dialog—that made the film appealing to his fans.[231] Fanfare's Royal S. Brown disagreed and was grateful that the actor's dialog amounted to "2 pages of typescript."[232] Schickel summed up Schwarzenegger's acting as "flat",[219] while Knoll was more verbose, characterizing the actor's portrayal as "a dull clod with a sharp sword, a human collage of pectorals and latissimi who's got less style and wit than Lassie."[36] While Sandahl Bergman earned acclaim for injecting grace and dynamism into the film,[36][224] the film's more experienced thespians were not spared criticisms. Gunden said von Sydow showed little dedication to his role,[70] and Clarens judged Jones's portrayal of Thulsa Doom to be worse than camp.[224] Brougher faulted none of the actors for their performances, laying the blame on Milius's script instead

According to Rentrak Theatrical, a firm of media analysts, Conan debuted at the top spot at the US box office, taking $9,479,373 over the opening weekend.[233][nb 5] Rentrak's data on Conan covered 8 weeks after the film's release; during that period, Conan grossed $38,513,085 at the box office in the United States.[235] Universal Pictures received $22.5 million after deducting the amounts due to the cinema owners.[2] This sum—the rental[236]—was more than the money Universal had invested in making the film, thus qualifying Conan as a commercial success; any further income from the film was pure profit for the studio.[2] Marian Christy, interviewer for the Boston Globe, mentioned that the film was a box office success in Europe and Japan as well.[237] Worldwide, Conan the Barbarian grossed more than $100 million in ticket sales.[238]
David A. Cook, Professor of Film Studies at Emory University, said that Conan's North American performance fell short of the amount returned by blockbusters;[239] the rentals of such films from their release in the continent were supposed to be least $50 million.[240] Conan's rental was the thirteenth highest for 1982[2] and when combined with those for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (the most successful film in that year with a rental of $187 million),[236] On Golden Pond, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas—all distributed by Universal Pictures—constituted 30 percent of the year's total film rental. According to Arthur D. Murphy, a film-industry analyst, it was the first time that a single distributor captured such a substantial share of the film market.[240]
The videocassette version of the film was released on October 2, 1982. Sales and rental figures of the videocassette were high; from its launch, the title was listed in Billboard's Videocassette Top 40 (Sales and Rental categories) for 23 weeks.[241][242] According to Sammon, sales of the film through frequent home video releases increased the film's gross earnings to more than $300 million by 2007.[243] Conan the Barbarian was novelized by Lin Carter and the de Camps (L. Sprague and his wife, Catherine).[223][244] It was also adapted by Marvel in comic form;[nb 6] scripted by Michael Fleisher and drawn by John Buscema, the comic was one of the rarest paperbacks published by the company

Release Date: May 14, 1982

Distrib: Universal

Boxoffice: $39,565,475 2014: $112,371,300

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