"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Conan Sword

At the end of Zero Dark Thirty is THE Best movie of 2012, I noted ...
Slightly off topic - Tonight, I'm checking out Arnold Schwarzenegger's "The Last Stand".  It had already been on my "to-do" list, but something I saw in a commercial for it a few nights ago moved it to the top of that list.

If you've seen previews or commercials for it, then you know that he plays a sheriff, in a small town near the border to which an escaped drug cartel leader and his gang are headed,

In many of those commercials are scenes where Arnold and his men feel the need for more firepower, and there's a scene of his deputy holding up a sword, saying "You never know".

When I saw that commercial, a couple of nights ago, I looked closer at that scene and realized, "Wait a minute! That's Conan's sword!!!"

So naturally I've just gotta see if that sword, the same one Arnold used in his "Conan the Barbarian", actually has any use at all in this movie, or if it's a bit of a tease for the fact that he will be filming a new Conan later this year.


As it doesn't really have anything to do with "Zero Dark Thirty", I've pulled it out of that post and made this little post to deal with it.

Well, I did check out "The Last Stand".  While not great, it's not bad either; a sort of fun, "Put brain in neutral and enjoy" movie (with an amazing cast that includes Forrest Whitaker , Peter Stormare and and an all too rare brief appearance by Harry Dean Stanton) that manages to kill a couple of hours without disappointing.

To answer the question I posed about the sword ...

The only spoiler I'll give about the movie is that the sword only appears for a few seconds, plays no part whatever in the movie, and its appearance is almost certainly a tease and an inside joke.

So, what about Conan's sword?

Actually, two swords play a prominent part in Arnie's 1982 version of "Conan the Barbarian".

Conan's father is a blacksmith and makes his own weapons. At the beginning of the movie, during the opening title sequence, we see the casting, forging and tempering of his father's sword ...

From auctions.shopgala.com

Forging and tempering are mainstays of director John Milius' writing and direction.  In Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon" (Trust me. We're still on topic), when construction of the giant cannon is almost complete, the builders get a telegram from a Frenchman who plans to ride in its projectile.

When Verne describes him, he concludes with "forged, not cast", as something cast comes from a mold from which many indistinguishable copies can be made, while something that is forged and tempered is unique.

The forging and tempering of that sword is a metaphor for the later forging and tempering of Conan himself (Yeah, I know. Duh!)

This is what I refer to as the Conan Sword ...
From entertainmentearth.com

Also known as the Atlantean Sword (because its former owner was believed to be a ruler of (or at least from) Atlantis), Conan found this in a cave that turns out to be the crypt of that owner.  From that point on, he makes it his own.

If interested, here's a site: The Barbarian Keep: Heroic Swords, with info on both swords, some from Mr. Jody Samson, the master sword maker who made them for the movie.

The brief glimpse I got of the sword in "The Last Stand" made me confident that it was the Conan Sword I saw there. In my search for pictures of it, I came across this, which pretty well clinched it for me ...

That picture is from Stuff U Can Use, in a post from several years ago while Arnold was still Governor of California. This is a partial screen capture of the page ...

If true (and frankly I cannot think of any good reason to believe otherwise), then that sword in the movie truly is the Conan Sword; not just a replica, but the very one that Arnold used in both movies.

I suspect that he may have contributed it, not just out of a sense of humor (although he does have one; he's greatly underestimated there), but also to pique interest in the new Conan movie he's supposed to start on this year.

For a long time, he's wanted to make "King Conan", about Conan's later years. He's likely decided that, since he's in his later years now, maybe he'd better get moving on it. 

No real idea if this new one will be that or not (one report says its title may be "The Legend of Conan") and no mention of whether John Milius will be involved. That is something I would really love; Milius considers it his sacred duty to tell a tall tale and to tell it well.  In his "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean", the text scrolling up in the opening title sequence, after giving a lurid account on life in the territory concerned, said something to the effect of, "If this ain't the way it was, it's the way it should have been."

That's why I so much want John Milius involved here. That's the absolutely perfect attitude toward telling a Conan story.

Please! :-)


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Paul Gordon said...

He constantly kept preaching about this.

Preaching about WHAT?
The Conan Sword?
How well this piece is written?

Ladies and Gentlemen: I typically get more than a dozen pieces of spam each day, usually for whatever post is at the top of my blog.

Maybe half of them are alost nothing but links for Ugg boots or various drugs.

Most of the other half are in this form: ostensibly in praise of the post but as specific as a fortune cookie or a daily horoscope message, and ending with a link to whatever the sender is pushing.

THIS is why I have comment moderation turned on. You don't see those comments because I see them first.

Just thought I'd let you know what you've been missing. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for finally writing about >"The Conan Sword" <Liked it!


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