The Newcomer's Guide to Robert E. Howard

Everything you need to know

Conan the Barbarian (2011): Remake, Reboot, or Reimagining?

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Right, so what’s this film then? Is it a sequel to Conan the Barbarian?

No. This film is entirely unconnected to the previous films, and is intended as a franchise reboot akin to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, complete with a new origin story by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, with tweaks by Sean Hood and Andrew Lobel.

Is it a remake of Conan the Barbarian?

No. A remake implies a film is based on an earlier film: this is intended to be a new adaptation of the Conan character, who first appeared in the pages of Weird Tales in1932. The story written by Oliver Stone and John Milius for the 1982 film is entirely original, and outside of a few scenes extracted from two or three Howard stories and adoption of some names and elements, it bears very little in common with Howard’s creation.

But if it isn’t a remake, why does the plot sound just like Conan the Barbarian?

It is true that the storyline bears a number of similarities to Conan the Barbarian: the young barbarian whose village is massacred, one of his parents murdered by an evil warlord with sorcerous power, and a quest for vengeance across the Hyborian lands all figure in what is known in the upcoming film:

  • Our protagonist is a young Cimmerian named Conan
  • His father is a blacksmith
  • His village is attacked by a band of raiders
  • His father is killed
  • The raider’s leader takes his father’s sword
  • Conan eventually resolves to avenge his father’s death and village’s slaughter
  • The rest of the film follows Conan as an adult

However, there are significant divergences too:

  • Conan is not enslaved and taken north; he goes south and joins up with a group of pirates
  • Conan is not chained to the Wheel of Pain for 20 years; he lives a life of piracy through to adulthood
  • Conan is not forced into pit fighting; he gains experience in real battles, not gladiatorial combat
  • Conan is not taken to the Far East to learn eastern martial arts; he learns how to fight naturally, not through schooling
  • Conan doesn’t discover an Atlantean Sword in a crypt; he uses whatever weapon suits his purposes
  • Conan is not crucified on a Tree of Woe
  • Conan does not travel to Zamora
  • There is no Black Sun Cult of Set
  • There are no Mounds of the Dead
  • There is no Battle at the Mounds
  • There is no Tower of the Serpent
  • There is no Mountain of Power
  • Conan is not resurrected by demonic forces and the sacrifice of a loved one
  • Thulsa Doom does not appear in the film
  • King Osric does not appear in the film
  • Valeria does not appear in the film: Katarzyna Wolejnio’s minor character is completely unrelated to Sandahl Bergman’s
  • Rexor does not appear in the film
  • The Witch does not appear in the film: Rose McGowan’s “half-human, half-witch” Marique is not the same as Cassandra Gova’s witch
  • Subotai does not appear in the film
  • The Wizard does not appear in the film
  • The Princess, King Osric’s Daughter, does not appear in the film
  • Red-Hair, the slaver who frees Conan, does not appear in the film
  • The “Mongol” General and Turanian Officer do not appear in the film
  • The Pederast Priest does not appear in the film
  • Thorgrim does not appear in the film
  • The Sword Master does not appear in the film
  • None of Milius’ or Stone’s famous dialogue is in the film
  • None of Basil Poledouris’ iconic themes and melodies is in the film
  • None of Ron Cobb’s production design is in the film
  • None of John Bloomfield’s costume design is in the film
  • None of Jody Sampson’s swords are in the film

.. in short, next to nothing from Conan the Barbarian, save the bare bones of a young Cimmerian’s quest for revenge for the murder of his tribe and parents, will be making an appearance.

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Written by alharron

22 December, 2010 at 10:15 pm

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