There is still quite a bit of confusion about the upcoming Conan the Barbarian film. Some think it’s a remake of the 1982 film; others think it’s a sequel or re-imagining of it; still others have wildly different expectations and myriad misunderstandings of the character, his creation, and the film itself.
Well, I figured it’s time to put everything of importance into a short as possible, easy-to-read, plain English document for those who don’t know Conan. Think of this as a primer for anyone not closely versed in Conan, the Hyborian Age, or Robert E. Howard, whose only experience of Conan may be a late night talk-show host or a plucky little detective anime.
But they can’t remake Conan the Barbarian! Arnold was Conan! Milius was a Genius! This is an outrage!
A great man once said “Everybody has opinions: I have them, you have them. And we are all told from the moment we open our eyes, that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Well, that’s horsepuckey, of course. We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it’s nothing.”
With that in mind, let me be perfectly blunt: if your only experience of Conan is previous adaptations, then you are not entitled to an opinion on the 2011 film’s fidelity to the Conan character. You can judge it on its own cinematic merits, as a moviegoing experience, or whatever. But without research, without background, without understanding, your opinion is nothing. If something in the 2011 film is different from something in the 1982 film, that does not make it unfaithful to the Conan character. Full stop. End of. Fin.
I’m not saying you have to read all of Robert E. Howard’s stories before going to see the film (though that would be awesome), I’m just saying you really should know that Conan existed for 50 years before 1982. I have spent too much time trying to explain to people that Conan existed for 20 years before Arnold Schwarzenegger was even born to have much patience left, and in this age of the internet, there is no excuse for ignorance. And this particular sort of ignorance is annoying, because it is so easily remedied with a simple, 5-second Google or Wikipedia search.
With that out of the way, onward.
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