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Last evening I introduced Conan (and Arnold Schwarzenegger) to Jan, trying to explain to this twentieth-century woman about comics, cartoons, and movies: twentieth-century boys had comix in their blood, twentieth-century girls typically did not: automatic disapproval, defenses up.
I cite what I just emailed to my son on the subject:
|memory mix||I got Jan to sit still for the first twenty or so minutes of Conan before she bailed out: 20th c girls are not comix girls, I tried to get her to understand, it’s a comic, Arnold is a cartoon in the flesh … (a perfect cartoon!)
all this was predictable, expected on both sides. what I didn’t expect was seeing Conan for the first time since when And being aware that it’s John Melius!
Toward the end Conan prepares for a decisive battle against the warlord who’s beheaded his mother (as she held his childish hand), killed his people, sold him into slavery … For the first time in his life he prays to his god Crom. “And if you won’t give me this, then the hell with you“! Whowee, that’s not your standard Hollywood theology!
Further, Jan and I watched Alexander Nevsky recently, no matter how many times I’d seen Nevsky, no matter how thoroughly I understood that Hollywood (including DeLaurentis partnerships) was the quintessence of kleptocracy, I still didn’t allow for quite how whorish this all was.
Delicious to reflect how well the first guess approximated how to use Arnold, but Terminator would perfect it.
The movies that got plagiarized make a good reading list. Prokofiev’s score too was baldly near-quoted.
But there are many wonderful things that make this movie an important original:
Not least of them is how great Sandhal Bergman is as Valeria: a muscle gal (background dancing) who poses almost as well as Arnold but most importantly looks like she could actually hold a sword and maybe even swing it to effect too.
After a youth of laughing at Diana Rigg and British TV’s inability to imagine martial arts from either English female or male, Patrick Macnee and his umbrella looking just as silly while stuntmen throw themselves out the window or through the wall, it was a joy to behold Sandahl. I wouldn’t be excited by any female pretending to be lethal again till Carrie-Anne Moss cartwheeled around the soundstage, dodging and kicking in The Matrix.
The climactic battle reminded me to Mark Twain’s making fun of James Fenimore Cooper: the judge and his two daughters live on a barge on Lake Glimmerglass. The judge has a crank he uses to haul the barge in and out of a creek feeding the lake. A half a dozen “Indians” hide in a branch of the tree overhanging the creek. This old man is cranking a barge underneath a bough big enough to hold six fighting men?! in hiding?! I’m not sure Conan could turn that crank! Anyway, the barge passes underneath. The first Indian jumps down to the barge deck: misses, goes overboard! The second Indian: same fate! The third! And so fourth, and fifth … Finally, the chief is the last to jump. All five are swimming and drowning, but the chief, the last to go, makes the jump!!! One of those fictions where even the author isn’t paying any attention to what he’s imagining: a rich traditions of both writer and reader asleep at the wheel. … Conan and the Thief and the Wizard prepare the battle ground. Thulsa Doom and his chiefs and their cohorts all arrive on the ridge togher. They all gallop toward the target: Conan, and friends. The cohorts arrive first, one at a time. The cohorts are all killed, one at a time. Then the big bad lieutenants arive, one at a time: Rexor, and Thorgren! Wow, it ain’t just Arnold in this muscle flick: and it ain’t just Sandhal either! Valérie Quennessen plays a wonderful misled princess, daughter to King Osric, for Arnold to rescue from her magical deceits. Anyway, finally, one at a time, fifty yards of battleground to gallop over, all starting together, each arrive five minutes apart, finally, Thulsa Doom arrives, and, before fighting, they talk! Finally Arnold kills him and the movie can wrap up. But I just love Hollywood’s tradition of killing the enemy by precise reverse of rank: so the king is the last to fight, the last to die.
Best of all, the dead Valeria shows up amid the carnage, rescues Conan when he’s down!
All the girls show plenty of bosom, plenty of crotch. Sandhal shows that tendon on the inside of her thigh, the one that stands taught like a bow string when any female is maximally agape.
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