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Conan the Barbarian

"What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?”

Oliver Stone had written his draft for the script of Conan the Barbarian before John Milius was on board, but even then everyone knew it was too grand and extravagant. With an estimated $40 million budget, they knew they had to thin it down quite a bit. Milius tossed quite a bit of Stone’s work though the two men clearly had similar masculine sensibilities so Milius’ tone still feels very much like Stone’s. So does the end result feel like something that Stone had helped develop? Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our Oliver Stone in the 80s series with Milius’ 1982 fantasy Conan the Barbarian.

We talk about the nature of fantasy films and why this style with scantily clad characters didn’t take off cinematically the way Lord of the Rings did. We also chat about how Milius, Stone, and the rest of the team still do strong work creating an effective, believable, and expansive fantasy world. We look at Arnold Schwarzenegger in this iconic, career-making role and what he brings to it. We discuss James Earl Jones as Thulsa Doom, the villain of the piece, as well as what’s effective with his character and what’s ineffective. We touch on the nature of cults and conspiracy theories and how it seems Stone and Milius certainly seem to be drawing on stories relevant to them at the time but interestingly are still so relevant today. We point out the reasons this film landed on the American Humane Association’s “unacceptable” list. And we celebrate the iconic and unforgettable music by Basil Poledouris.

It’s a fun fantasy film that Pete and Andy are split on but still provides for quite an expansive conversation. Check it out then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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When the movie ends, our conversation begins. We love movies. We’ve been talking about them, one movie a week, since 2011. It’s a lot of movies, that’s true, but we’re passionate about origins and performance, directors and actors, themes and genres, and so much more. So join the community and let’s hear about your favorite movies, too.