No, it’s not “to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.” That’s all well and good, but that’s not best.
What is best then? The news that came over the wire yesterday about Conan the Barbarian.
Before Terminator. Before Predator. Before Harry Tasker. There was Conan. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who entered stardom with his portrayal of Conan the Cimmerian, had a lot to prove in 1982. He was a new actor, mostly a bodybuilder, and no one knew who the hell he was. It’s not surprising then to watch Conan the Barbarian and see a man whose dialog largely did not exist—after all, who could understand Arnie’s accent back then anyway—but who carried the character with charisma, brooding eyes, and incredible fight scenes that were custom created for that body-builder form.
Now, it is looking like we may be getting a new Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan movie! Here is the news from Variety.com:
Universal Pictures is rebooting the “Conan” franchise with “The Legend of Conan” with Arnold Schwarzenegger set to star. Variety’s sibling publication, Deadline Hollywood, broke the news that has Fredrik Malmberg, Chief Executive Officer of Paradox Entertainment, the Conan rights holder and Chris Morgan.
Plot details are being kept under wraps.
The original pic, “Conan: The Barbarian” launched Schwarzenegger’s career and led to the sequel “Conan: the Destroyer.”
Co-President of Production, Jeff Kirschenbaum will oversee the project for the studio.
The CAA repped Schwarzenegger can be seen next in Lionsgate’s “The Last Stand” which bows Jan. 18.
I am beyond thrilled about this news. I’ve wanted this for a long time. Many people will think to themselves, “Arnie is too old to play Conan anymore.” What those people fail to understand is Conan the Cimmerian has been written about at length over decades of time—each story set at different moments in the thief, warrior, gladiator, and king’s life. There are seventeen Robert E. Howard stories (four more if you include those left unpublished before his death in 1936) and there is a wealth of story possibilities there. Beyond Howard’s own work, many writers have added to the Conan mythology over the decades, including Robert Jordan, who wrote seven Conan stories.
In short, Conan can be portrayed at any age and as long as Arnold can still wield a sword and utter Crom under his breath, he should do fine.
And let’s face it, the movie Conan the Barbarian is one of the best fantasy movies ever made. Its origin story, its dialog—or lack thereof—its musical score. The performances by all of the actors and even the CGI holds up surprisingly well. Conan the Barbarian was made during a time when story mattered, the literary undertones of a story mattered (the movie opens with a quote from Nietzsche, for crying out loud!), and for me personally trascends the very best fantasy movies ever made. Come on. James Earl Jones?! Really?! Great villain. Almost every bit the Darth Vader he should be in a Star Wars movie. The film is at my top. Likely to never be removed.
The new movie will be titled The Legend of Conan. Not much is known about the project beyond what its producers are saying. I like that the movie will ignore the travesty that is the sequel, Conan the Destroyer. It was utter shyte. The Conan remake from last year starring Jason “Khal Drogo” Momoa was shyte too. Ignore it. Not worth the time.
And let’s face it, Arnold should be hungry. He hasn’t done a real movie in ages. After his mostly-failed governorship of California and now sadly failed marriage, he should want to prove himself again in the one realm he was great at.
King Osric, played by the great Max Von Sydow, said it best:
There comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison, and all that is left is a father’s love for his child.
Yes, Arnie has children. But his best child is his acting.
So all of the right ingredients are coming together. That’s why I’m excited about this. But who knows? Maybe this won’t get greenlit into production. But they’d be fools if they didn’t do it. Led by people who know the source material and the actor who started it all—and now needs acting redemption more than any actor in Hollywood—this should be made.
What do you think? Should this be done?