Stills & Analysis of the UK Conan the Barbarian Trailer, Part 2

Seemed an appropriate teaser image, methinks. Anyway, this trailer happens to show a few shots from the climax of the film, so you might want to be wary of SPOILERS.

At the 40 second mark or so, we find Jason Momoa looking through the spyglass that was among the movie props presented at Cross Plains. I’m still unsure about the feasibility of a pre-industrial telescope, but I’m willing to accept the possibility that Hyborian Age optics are more advanced than later history. Nabonidus’ security mirrors in “Rogues in the House” come to mind.

A new voice is heard, and based on comparison with the Red Band Trailer, I think it’s Nonso Anozie’s Artus:

“Do you know who that is?”

Cutting to Stephen Lang’s Khalar Zym, flourishing his Double Bladed Parallel Scimitar. It seems every single frame we see of Stephen Lang, we can see he’s having a fantastically fun time.

Our next shot appears to be a village in the hills, with a waterwheel in the middle distance, mountains in the background, and approaching riders rushing through a small lake – or a loch. The mountains seem to confirm this is Cimmeria, making those riders possibly Khalar’s soldiers. Everything looks great to me… except the watermill.  Watermills are a quintessential hallmark of civilization, dating back to the ancient Greeks: the earliest example of a vertical-wheeled mill was found in Alexandria, dating to the mid-2nd Century BC. Alexandria was one of the centres of the Hellenic world at the period, and the capital of Egypt until the Muslim Conquests almost a millenium later: I can’t see a barbarian people like the Cimmerians constructing such a device. Who knows, maybe they borrowed it from the Gundermen or something.

Artus continues:

“That is the angel of death.”

Angel of death? Presumably this is a reference to Khalar Zym, though it could be Marique – or something else entirely, making this another phrase taken out of context. Just can’t trust these trailers… Now, there are some elements of Judeo-Christian elements appearing in Hyborian Age religion, the most notable being the “heavenly hosts of Mitra” and descriptions of characters as “sainted” or “saintly” in “The Phoenix on the Sword.” However, Howard never uses the term “angel” in any of the Conan stories, certainly not “angel of death.” The use of this phrase makes me vaguely uncomfortable: it’s tied to a few very specific figures in Abrahamic religions, but it’s also a common epithet of several murderers, a criminological classification for a specific type of serial killer, and most unpleasantly, the epithet of one of the most notorious figures of the Holocaust.

We then hear Conan’s voice:

“That’s the man who killed my father.”

Conan explains who this angel of death is, as a very grim looking chap scowls over his shoulder.

I think this is Bashar Rahal’s Quarter Master, as mentioned on the Internet Movie Database in the film’s cast list. Here’s a comparison, with contrast slightly altered for more detail:

Look like a match?

Conan then mimics a move from earlier in his life, by grasping a sword…

And raising it aloft. Judging by the hilt, this looks like Corin’s sword Conan’s raising skyward.

A nice sweeping shot of Khor Khala accompanies Conan’s voice, as he quotes “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” again.

After more of the scenes of Khalar wearing the Mask of Acheron in the dark depths of the Ruins, we get a new shot of Khalar’s confrontation with Conan in the Shahpur outpost. I love the expression of vaguely irritated puzzlement on Khalar’s face, as if he’s thinking “who the hell is this greasy chump?”

“Who are you?”

Annoyingly, a much more egregious example of cutting-two-separate-scenes-together-to-make-a-new-one follows, as not only is the next shot of Conan in the forest set – clearly not the same place as the above – but they actually splice two lines together into a new one. Perhaps they could’ve gotten away from it… if they didn’t use the unaltered line in previous trailers.

“I’m the one who / will follow you to hell!”

It’s really jarring, is all.

Anyway, another text screen:

THIS SUMMER

Followed by more shots of Khor Khala. I notice there are plumes of smoke issuing from various parts of the fortress: are these fires from smiths or forges, or the results of an attack or siege?

Another angle of the ambush on the slave train, followed by the familiar tumbling rocks and ensuing chaos. That chap on the right of the image is wearing gear that looks very similar to the clothes sported by Artus: his hair looks about right too. We also saw Artus was present at the attack on the slavers in the Red Band Trailer.

Another brief glimpse of the Hornet, Artus’ ship.

Next up is another comedy sequence, which appears to take place on board the Hornet. Conan and Bob Sapp’s Ukafa are wrestling in a fight to the death in the bowels of the ship. It’s a bit hard to tell here, but one can just make out Ukafa’s designs on his face, likely produced by scarification.

Rachel Nichols’ Tamara comes to Conan’s aid, by preparing to hurl a dagger at Ukafa. This is the awesome “pirate” outfit I was talking about at the Cross Plains presentation, though you only get a brief glance at it here.

Conan sees what Tamara’s attempting, but evidently doesn’t trust her aim enough, and desperately motions for her to reconsider “helping” him. Again, we can see a little of Ukafa’s facial scars.

Tamara makes her decision, and flings the dagger…

… Which thuds into the wall, inches from Conan’s face. We can get a closer look at Ukafa’s scarifications on the back of his head, which appears to be forming a sort of “circlet” around his skull.

Tamara reacts with… a reaction. I can’t really read the emotion here: shock? Dismay? Surprise?

Another text card:

VENGEANCE

And Conan smashes through a thin wall divider. Maybe Conan had a grudge against IKEA too.

Another angle of Conan and Tamara leaping into the sea from the Shahpur outpost, this time tracking them from behind as they plummet into the waves.

After a succession of images of the Ruins, Conan’s brawl with the gold-helmeted men and that screaming Pict, we see Tamara whip her head around, looking backwards at something as she and Conan flee. Since she’s wearing her sacrificial outfit, this is likely in the Ruins.

Another text screen:

IS UNLEASHED

Following that, a new shot of the Ruins, including the river of lava snaking along the bottom of the chasm.

Following this is what I believe to be one of the action set-pieces of the climax. Conan and Khalar Zym are fighting atop an iron-bound wheel, which Tamara is chained to, and which is plummeting at terminal velocity into the abyss of the Ruins. Right now, the effects seem a bit wan, but hopefully they’ll be more detailed and convincing when the final film comes out.

And, of course, that bit where Marique conjures up the Sand Demons that the producers must be really proud of (considering they stick it in nearly every trailer). However, there’s at least another shot, where we see Conan slicing off one of the Sand Demons’ arms: interestingly, at the point of dismemberment, the demon’s arm stays in place, rather than falling, and eventually crumbles into a cloud of dust. It’s a disquieting effect, and certainly a little bit different.

Another succession of images, including this quick shot of Tamara looking up. Again, the sacrificial dress indicates this takes place in the ruins.

We’ve already seen this shot before, but I wanted to point it out since it shows Conan’s bleeding from a couple of wounds on his shoulder: in the first trailer, the blood was desaturated to the point where it looked more like mud or grime.

Another quick sequence shows Tamara lying back on the wheel, looking fearfully at the chains binding her…

… Until Conan’s sword comes down, cutting through the chains.

The final new shot isn’t that impressive, but it shows a force of warriors I don’t think have been seen in the trailers yet: they look like the warriors seen in behind-the-scenes photographs with the red cloths. As such, they could be warriors seen in the attack on Conan’s village.

At the very end, the orchestra swells to a crescendo, followed by a sand warrior bursting out of the ground and Conan swiping at the camera.

Editorial

Overall, this trailer, and upcoming spots, show an interesting difference of approach between the domestic and international trailers. The domestic trailers all utilize guitars and decidedly modern vocals for the soundtrack, reminiscent of 300, Clash of the Titans and similar films; in contrast, the international trailers have full orchestral scores, reminding an audience more of the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean or The Lord of the Rings. I also get the impression that domestic trailers mostly rely on soundbytes and action sequences, whereas the international trailers have a bit more of the film’s story and atmosphere.

It seems, then, that the film distributors are trying to court different audiences with these trailers. The US trailers all seem to appeal to the young male audience, those who enjoy UFC, Deadliest Warrior, sports, and other such interests. The international trailers appear to be going after a far more general audience, the type who’d be as likely to try out any fantasy/action film.

I still hope we’re going to see a third trailer that pulls out all the stops, but even so, it’s interesting to compare and contrast the different trailers with each other.