CONAN – an answer to Carlos the Jackal

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As I sit here listening to London Calling, I thought I’d answer Carlos’s question of a ways back. It’s not exactly a Conan question, and I apologize for not being able to offer any more red meat except that the last I heard, Brett was leaning away from Conan. This can obviously change at any time, since I don’t think anything is official either way. I’m a little constrained from talking about Conan for reasons I hope I never have to write about.

Anyway, here’s what Carlos asked:

“Is there – in Hollywood – something like a censor-board or a censor-committee, that actually decides about which ideological stream should one film take? Or are writers expected to fit in the dominant stream spontaniously? And are rejected if they don’t come up with the satrisfactory results?

My question is based on an observation of how Hollywood produces films like Dark Knight, which is a strong Bush administration apology (Batman spies on everyone, declares war on terror..), or for example, films like the Bourne trilogy, which is very pro-democrat, anti-Bush, or the new James Bond film, where James Bond stands on the side of Evo Morales’ government against the CIA and the environmentalist multinational corporation. And I ask you this, because the Underworld prequel, as far as I can see, also walks along the same leftist line – Lycans are the undertrodden, not to say “the proletariat”, while the vampires are this upper class, etc. So, I was wondering if storyline like that comes according to some Hollywood planing, like what are the topics we should cover this year, etc.? And than they see that the political climat is like that, and the studios decide and than tell to the writers “OK, now, go and write about the undertrodden!” “

I think, Carlos, you have fallen into a trap that engulfs many people in regard to Hollywood. (And I say this with respect – I love my fellow Conan junkies). There really isn’t anything monolithic about Hollywood. It’s just not that well-organized. (I’m put in mind of Holocaust deniers, who think that in some fashion a hoax was put in play that relied on successfully hiding eight million people, hiring film crews of various nationalities to dress sets and then bribing thousands of soldiers from around the world to lie about what they saw. And then… make sure no one talked. Who could pull this off?)

Obviously I’m overstating, but it’s late, and I’m in the mood. There are certainly themes that occur in Hollywood, but they are arrived at from various quarters. Any decent writer is creating something in which he believes, something that fascinates him. He is often taking cues from the moment, and if he’s not an art fuck, is trying to write something he thinks America will care about. I’m sure when Nolan approached the new Batman with the idea of using the Joker, the first thing he said was ‘how do I make the Joker different?’ He conceived of him as a terrorist. So how do you fight that? America has been asking that question for nearly eight years now – how far are we willing to go? How much of our soul will we part with to save our skins? I would actually say that Nolan carved out his own territory in such a way as to poke both camps in the eye. He created a character, Batman, who recognizes the need to do detestable things BUT IS THEN WILLING TO TAKE ON THE BURDEN OF THEIR ILLEGALITY. Lefties should shudder at the choice to step over the line; righties should shudder at the real-life inability of certain politicans to bear that responsibility themselves.

Wow. Digressed. Point is, Nolan wasn’t following anyone’s script but his own.

Insofar as Underworld is concerned, it is apolitical. Simply put, it is Romeo and Juliet meets Spartacus, in the world of vampires and werewolves. In no meeting did anyone raise any point regarding the underclass, the wealthy, etc. The hero was a slave in love with his master’s daughter. What followed, followed. Therein lies another thing that is important – scripts have their own logic, their own paths. They tend to know what they need to be; writers tear out their hair trying to figure out what that is. I can honestly say, of the hundreds and hundreds of notes I have gotten, not a single one had a political or ideological overtone. An alarming number of them were bad notes, but they were honestly bad.

What writers try desperately to do is take familiar material and make it fresh. We do it by mining our hearts and minds, by trying to take the pulse of the public. We are always trying to create characters that connect with the audience. We often fail. Such is art.

As for studios, their search is for profits. That’s as it should be – movies cost a lot of money. I can’t claim to know the minds of studio bosses, but my experience tells me that their decisions are based far more on what has succeeded than any political bent. Because, and this is important – the vast quantity of films are simple entertainment. No politics, no stance. (For a writer, they are just works for hire that you hope to learn to love, like a partner in an arranged marriage.) As for the more artistic films, it seems to me they run the gamut of topics found interesting by their creators. Doesn’t seem to me like much of an agenda that links Batman, Benjamin Button, Gran Torino, Doubt.

Here’s what I will grant in terms of an overarching ‘feel’ to many of the so-called important movies: at the least, a whiff of liberal thought. Now I don’t for one moment, not one instant, believe that in Hollywood there is an actual ‘agenda’ to forward liberal policies. As I said, there are no cabals, no star chambers where people get together to decide what America needs to hear. What you do get though, is a grouping of similar-minded people who are drawn to this profession. Why are so many of us here? I don’t know. We’re artsy types. Artsy types tend to be liberal. Probably just a matter of the brain’s architecture. (That’s certainly what my highly conservative best friend would tell me.)

But here is where Hollywood gets a silly rap: that it is a miasma of liberal tripe out of touch with ‘mainstream America”. I would estimate that upwards of 90% of Hollywood films are actually conservative. By that, I mean conservative where it actually matters: strong families are present, and when they’re not, they are missed; America is a decent place filled with decent people; parents are fallible, but most often turn out to be right; good wins out; evil is vanquished. For every Milk, there are ten Night at the Museums. Only when you get into the small percentage of statement films does the obviously liberal rear up. And that’s because art is doing what it is supposed to do: question. Should we have gone to war; can we maintain an American philosophy while fighting that war; should gay people have equal rights; etc. And if you think about it, conservatism, by definition, is all about respect for the status quo, the established. And where is the drama in that?

In the end, it is not generally a deep desire to sound off on some political topic that births these films, it’s passion. Someone saw a good story and thought others would like to see it too. That simple.


93 Responses to “CONAN – an answer to Carlos the Jackal”

  1. Well said, Dirk. And I’d like to add that I think people will read different things into different movies. For instance, I didn’t see any of what Carlos mentioned about TDK or Underworld. That may be by personal choice, though. I go to movies to be entertained. If I want a political message, I’ll read the newspaper or take a Poli Sci class.

    And I suspect the vast majority of moviegoers are with me on that.

  2. Dirk, this is from a Hollywood outsider (but not too far to commute!):

    It seems that films take one of a couple of tracks. Correct me if I am going on bad information.

    The first is when a filmmaker gets the fire in the hair, so to speak, and the vision is so clear, and his track record is so good that everyone falls in line behind hiim. Most of the truly memorable films were made this way, I think – or is it just an outmoded style?

    The second involves collaboration between many, many folks, including judgements by those who weren’t involved in the filming itself, but have ideas about what will sell and what won’t. Many times these go to focus groups and test audiences to see if the film will make it in the real world.

    I believe that the second type of film arises when nobody really has the fire in their hair about a particular vision or interpretation. And I have the feeling that the Conan project is taking that route. That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be a great movie.

    But apparently there is no one man who is large and in charge with this project. I am not sure if that should fill me with hope or dread. 😀

  3. outlanderthemovie Says:

    I don’t know if I would say the first is outmoded or not, but it is rarer and rarer for fresh material to drive the making of a film. An ever-increasing amount of material comes from other sources – books, comics, etc. There are a couple of reasons for this, the most obvious being money. It’s extremely expensive to make films and execs want to be able to point at various elements in case of a failure and say ‘yeah, but who wouldn’t have made a movie based on Doom? Did you see how many copies it sold?” The other part of this is that it is extraordinarily hard to imagine what a movie will end up being just from a script. There are too many variables, too many intangibles. Director, editor, actors, execs, dp, etc. So underlying material gives the studio the (usually-mistaken) feeling that they have a handle on the material.

    No, there is no single vision right now leading the Conan charge, but that could change tomorrow. If they land a good director, that person will hopefully bring his love to the project. Or, horrifyingly, it could just be a journeyman looking for a check. In that, I can only join you in hoping.

  4. You got any favorite picks for director?

  5. Anyone who thinks that that much intelligent thought go into Hollywood scripts and movies is sadly deceiving themselves. This goes quadruple for Brett Ratner, incapable of deep thoughts. The idea makes me laugh. Don’t seek too much meaning in the movies. Even if there were people who care enough to write it, those deep films would go over the heads of the audience. Why bother?

  6. outlanderthemovie Says:

    I agree to an extent, Gabe. Films in general are about feeling rather than thinking. However, I find it far too dismissive to say Hollywood scripts are bereft of thought. Hollywood attempts a balanced slate of films, from family fare to mindless comedy to action to serious movies. One can always bemoan that there are not enough serious films (as I often do), but look at a few of this year’s films. There may not be a truly great one in the bunch, but we still find The Wrestler, Milk, Benjamin Button, Doubt, TDK, Slumdog, Gran Torino, and a bunch of other quality films. You don’t have to like all or any of them, but you should recognize that these are thoughtful, artful films.

    And I have to tell you, from personal, painful experience, that even writing genre fare is extremely difficult. My partner and I spend hours every day trying to decide what a movie is about, what its structure should be, who the characters are, how do we SHOW who the characters are, how do we want the audience to feel at this particular moment, what is the pacing of the film, what is the pacing of the individual scene, what is the emotional arc of the film, of the scene, etc etc ., And then when it’s written, we often have to do it all over again because someone else has an entirely different idea.

    We recently went up for a job adapting a comic book. Spent weeks coming up with a take. Terrific, in my book. Took it to the exec and he said he thought it was too dark. Now he’s not wrong – he’s just got a different opinion. But those two words destroyed the pitch. Weeks later, we still haven’t re-conquered it.

    I’m not carping here – every business, every job has its difficulties. I am simply making a point that a great amount of thought goes into a high percentage of Hollywood scripts.

  7. waldgeyst Says:

    Its how often execs have a call on things. Good example the second Conan movie. I always thought “well why did they let Roy Thomas write the screenplay, hes a comic author..” and in my mind i blamed him for how bad the movie was, but then i heard from someone who has far more knowledge about the Conan franchise that all is different.

    Dino DeLaurentis got his old buddy Richard Fleischer on the movie, who in return got his old buddy Stanley Mann to rewrite the screenplay.

    Now i finally read the Comic made out of the original Thomas script and that would have been a much better movie and not have killed the franchise in a way.

    There we have a guy who is all about money, letting his buddy, who was an old fashioned movie maker decide that another old-fashioned (not agewise, but mindwise, there are many great authors who are older) guy rewrites and butchers a screenplay and completely changes the tone of the movie to a 50’s style Hollywood flatola.

    Its nice to have creative people brainstorm and planning people cut on the ideas, analyze them and why not have testscreenings and surveys, but its horrible that ever so often movies get screwed up by manager descisions totally made up out of hot air.

    Lets hope that doesn’t happen to Conan 🙂

  8. I agree with Waldgeist (as usual). From the point of view of the unschooled popcorn-eaters, it often seems that when the back-seat driver takes charge, there’s often a trainwreck in the offing. 🙂

    Anyway, favorites for director?

  9. waldgeyst Says:

    Don’t know if i was asked 😉 but well i just throw in what i think.

    The best thing for me would be to not have a genre director. Not a person who is already used to doing things i a certain way. It should be a very creative, open minded director who likes to do things differently. I always remember movies the most who are done by young directors, though they may be sometimes rough around the edges, they do things in a way that sticks in my mind and to restart a franchise being different is important.

    Movies that are a good example of this:

    Garden State
    History of Violence
    Sin City
    Dark Crystal
    Pact of the Wolves

    All those movies are from totally different genres, but their directors (and writes for that matter) had a very different style, an identity that pushed them to create different view angles, interesting takes, blunt and sometimes risky sceneries and thoughts.

    I think even while Conan itself is a great character, his story has to be told in a fresh and new way, to make him cult again, otherwise he will just drown with all the other fantasy movies these days, that shortly cash in money, but then vanish into nothingness a year later.

    A conan movie made in a “cookie cutter” way, like most of the money-cashers would clearly be enjoyable, but for the movie to make a real impression it has to have a very STRONG focus and message and has to be different, especially it has to be “uncomfortable” in the eyes of the present US public and REH’s stories have this quality by raising question in the viewer and sympathies towards actions and characters, that the viewer might question after the movies is over.

    I just hope the movie will be nothing like the Conan game from THQ, which was not only bad because Conan could cast magic, but simply, because he was portrayed as a blood-thirsty, women-fucking, sword swinging brute, that grunts his way through life…

  10. WG, have you seen Outlander yet? I’d be interested in reading your review.

  11. waldgeyst Says:

    I haven’t seen Outlander yet, but i definitely will 😀

  12. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Dear Dirk,

    Thank you very much for your lengthy response. The aim of my post was to get some information from the inside of the film industry that is not usually discussed in an average filmmaker interview. Thank you for providing it.

    I strongly agree with the following point you made there: “[C]onservatism, by definition, is all about respect for the status quo, the established. And where is the drama in that?” I agree with it so much that, in addition, I would claim that a piece of art is not an art if it’s not revolutionary, at least in some of its aspects. Revolutionary, in a sense that it makes things move out from status quo, just as you said. And to back this up, I would just like to mention a couple of names, names of artists who really made the true 20th century art: in music Arnold Schoenberg, in theatre Bertolt Brecht, in film Charles Chaplin or Sergei Eisenstein, in art Pablo Picasso or Kazimir Malevich (and not to stay just in the field of art when we’re talking creativity, lets also mention THE name of the 20th century science, Albert Einstein). What all these names, and people behind them, have in common is that they were political activists and that their political stance was reflected in their works, or even better, their political activity WAS their work (Picasso’s Guernica, Chaplin’s Modern Times or Great Dictator, and I would argue the same thing even in the case of Einstein’s relativity theory).

    Now, since the beginning of the 90ies we were taught that the world of politics came to its end with the fall of the Berlin wall, that there are no politics, no universality, that there is only individuality and particularity. When it comes to art, as mentioned with these names I brought up above, art was always aiming for universality, it was always aiming at concentrating a message considered important for the great majority of people, and than delivering it to them. And to do that, art had to be political. Politics, as we all know, comes from Greek “polis”, “city”, and stands for social relations that are universal, that are for-all. So, art was always political par excellence, whether it was (or whether its creators were) aware of its political potential. Awareness of its political impact was not a condition of art’s existence, but the existence of its political impact was a pre-condition for its artisanship. Techniques, skills, etc. are individual and particular, and that’s where they differ from art. Art is above individuality and particularity, and above skills or techniques. And universality as well as art was something that was fading away with the absence of politics during the 90ies, and something that is coming back again through the main gates with the reintroduction of politics.

    Names I brought up above, along with what you said about conservative position not being something that could produce creativity, don’t just show that art is anti-conservative, but also that art has to be the very opposite of the conservatism’s position on the right: art is made on the left. Even more specific, art is made on the political and politicized left.

    What I am getting at here is, that even if one claims that art is unconnected to or disconnected from politics, it is by necessity of its very nature taken (consciously or not) in connection to politics, because of its universal pretensions. The example of that is Roger Ebert’s review of Outlander: Ebert, at the end of his article, draws some political consequences from Outlander (I cannot agree or disagree with it because I haven’t seen Outlander yet, I’m just using this as an example of the importance of politics in one’s perception of art). Piece of art speaks louder and speaks more than the author, and that’s the way it is and I think that’s the way it should be. If you speak to us through art, we cannot but – because we (always plural, as in “we, the audience”) are this universality art is aiming at – draw political consequences from art.

    In my previous posts I noticed how art, and that goes for Hollywood film production as well, becomes more and more consciously politicized (with Dark Knight, Quantum of Solace, or Watchmen that one can say just from watching trailers that it’s going to be highly and consciously politicized). And I think it is a good thing – for the art itself as well as for politics – left wing politics, to be specific.

    When I was speaking about the political undertone of Underworld 3, I spoke of the upper and lower class. Now, you tell me it’s not about that, it’s about “Romeo & Juliet meets Spartacus”. So, now because of your comments I expect the remake of James Cameron’s Titanic, but with vampires and werewolves instead of a ship-cruising and ship sinking. Romeo & Juliet without Spartacus could come from different families, religious groups etc. But if you throw Spartacus in it, you cannot but see the master and slave dialectics, and you cannot help but see class war (and by the way, Spartacus was the favorite historical character of none other but Karl Marx himself). And Cameron’s Titanic was about lovers from different classes at war. Now, Cameron makes a right wing point there – he sinks the ship in order to stop mixing of the upper and the lower class, which could result in a revolutionary abandonment of the class division. So the ship sinks in order to prevent that. I hope that – whether you as an artist were aware of it or not – you made things right this time, and made a left wing point by not crushing the ship (whatever the ship is in the Underworld 3). I’ll go and see it next week when it comes to the theatres in the city where I live, and I’m looking forward to seeing it, especially now after this inspirational conversation.

    Best regards, and best wishes!

  13. No offense, Carlos, but it must suck to watch every movie through a “political” lens. Again, I saw no right-wing/left-wing metaphors in Titanic. It was simply a story of improbable love with the backdrop being one of the most horrific events in living memory.

    Either way, I don’t think EVERY movie needs to have a “fresh, new take” on it. Frankly, there are reasons for formulaic story-telling. Formulas exist because they succeed in conveying specific feelings. REH certainly believed in them, since most of his stories were pretty formulaic (argue that one all you want, but I believe it to be true). So, the freshness isn’t necessarily in the story-telling.

    And since I’m already setting myself up to be flamed, I don’t really see a problem with Ratner. I caught X3 on FX last night, and I remember now why I liked it. It was a fun movie, very well-paced, with good action, and a story and plot that was just as deep as the previous two. Frankly, I could think of worse people to direct a Conan movie.

  14. waldgeyst Says:

    Imagine X3 as the first X-Men movie. The series would have died with that one, thats why Conan cannot be that way. A follow up movie can always be more “clean cut” and simple structured as the start, because people forgive that if they are hooked on. Starting with an “average” movie is going to kill the franchise moviewise again.

  15. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Reaver, whether it sucks or not to watch art through politics depends on your understanding of what politics proper is. Your ad hominem argument could easily be overshadowed by, for example, my opposite ad hominem argument. And it would be equally inadmissible in the light of what could be said about politics. That’s why politics is defined in relation to the universal, not in relation to the particular, individual, etc.

    Anyway. I went again through my questions and Dirk’s answers. And I’d like to summarize this exchange in a form of a short addendum:

    I noticed Hollywood movies are becoming explicitly politicized, to my great surprise. I didn’t expect it to happen, but I guess it had to happen because of the global economic and political crisis.
    Nevertheless, I didn’t expect it to happen this way – James Bond openly lining himself up with Bolivian Marxist, Batman providing concrete analysis of the Bush administration, Underworld series introducing class war with the Spartacus motif, etc.

    I’m overwhelmed all this is happening to the movies. But there’s always a seed of paranoia when one sees his wishes coming true. At some point, I was beginning to think there’s some plot behind all this, for example, a plot made in order to pacify politics by thematizing it in the movies (a true paranoiac scenario, I admit). So to ease myself I asked Dirk if he knew what’s going on. He told me there’s no plot. And I believed him. So, I feel much better now. Now, thanks to Dirk, I think that all this, Soderbergh’s Che, the new 007, the Watchmen, etc. ar NOT products of some orginized plot, but rather products of a chance, a chance made and oppened by the uncertainty of what the dominant political course should we take. In the act of the opposition to the non-productive conservative politics, and strictly by chance, many other political discourses made their way into the open. The question is, what are we going to do with them now that they are here in the open? Now that they are here – and that was my proposition – I strongly support the idea of preserving them here, keeping onto them, and not letting them go, not letting them vanish sanctimoniously behind our backs again. Now that many different political discourses emerged, it would be good if we could stick to them, and do something productive with them, instead of letting them work behind our backs as they used to up until now. Louis Althusser once said that the unconscious is structured like ideology. And what better weapon do we have for dealing with the unconscious (and ideology) than the dream-factory, which is film industry. That was the point I was making.

    I’m a philosopher by education, an under-payed film-critic by profession, so naturally, I’m a Marxist by my political convictions. And as a Marxist, I don’t think there’s a better fictional character than Conan who embodies traditional Marxist values such as discipline, skepticism towards the (capitalist) civilization, seeing commodities for what they really are, dealing bravely with the reminiscent of the dark past, etc. And that’s why I found it appropriate to discuss all these questions with the script writers of the new Conan movie, as well as with other Conan fans (on who’s anger I count when I deliver claims such as this that Conan is a true Marxist role model; to those who become angry over it, I suggest that they think about whether it is not exactly a true conanesque move, going against all odds).

  16. @Waldgeist
    Who’s to say that if Brett had done X1, it would have been as “average?” My point is, I don’t see anything bad about his directing per se. At least not nearly as everyone else.

    Sorry, man. You lost me when you admitted to being a pro film critic. People in your profession are, IMO, one step above lawyers, generally. Most critics seem like they wouldn’t know a “good” movie (as in entertaining, which is what movies are supposed to be) from a hole in the ground.

    That being said, I can see your points somewhat. But I think people are over-thinking films these days, and forgetting that they’re works of fiction, meant to be fun and enjoyable for a couple of hours. Especially movies of the genres we’re talking. Anyone who goes to a Vampire/Werewolf movie, or a Conan movie, or a Batman movie expecting some kind of relevant social commentary needs to have their head examined.

    But that’s just the undereducated opinion of an average Joe. What do I know?

  17. waldgeyst Says:

    Then in need to get my head checked :D, because i think just because you switch from “reality” to “fantasy” should not come with the price of depth, meaning or purpose (as the example Dark Knight has shown).

    Because in the end no matter what genre people are fans of, they all look for something to relate too, character, social interaction. The most successful movies of all genres are the ones that portrait that and not the ones that just are a “check list” mixture of “nice to have” elements.

    Very good example for that are the movies made by Uwe Boll. They are made checklist wise and have all general elements so that people should like them, but they are so flat that he is one of the most hated film makers.

  18. Fair enough. I guess I have a hard time wrapping my head around looking for something in a movie that takes effort to find (or even read into). But I also think there’s a difference between depth and “social relevance.” TDK had depth for me without any relation to social issues.

    But, to each his own, I guess.

  19. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Than, I’m sorry to say, Reaver, you really missed a lot if you haven’t seen social relevance in Dark Knight. It’s screaming at you, so to speak. Dirk earlier said about Dark Knight that it’s about “Batman, who recognizes the need to do detestable things BUT IS THEN WILLING TO TAKE ON THE BURDEN OF THEIR ILLEGALITY. Lefties should shudder at the choice to step over the line; righties should shudder at the real-life inability of certain politicans to bear that responsibility themselves.” (Nota bene: when saying “lefties” Dirk here addresses liberals. Those who are far left are certainly not those who are afraid of crossing the line, since it is immanent to the far left to make new, revolutionary laws instead of the obsolete laws of the previous malfunctioning order).

    I’d also like to add three things here:

    1. It’s more fun to watch a movie when you really sink your teeth into it, providing it’s deep enough for that to begin with;

    2. Movies that are “just for fun” are in no way outside the set of what could be marked as “socially relevant”; they perform a function of hiding social relations and therefore are made in order to prevent status quo from changing;

    3. I totally agree with Waldgeyst’s post above, and would just like to mention one other argument besides deepth, social relevance, etc. As a true Marxist, I’d like to here point at the money. Films that are well thought through make more money. Take hundreds of peplum, or sword and sandal movies made throughout sixties, and take Ben Hur. Italian peplums were made in order to be just fun anbd to bring some money. But Ben Hur had number of layers, it’s message mattered at that time, and it made money not just in theaters (where it was released and than re-released, and re-released again) but also it made a lot from being released on VHS, from being shown on TV, and than from being released on DVD. Same with Star Wars on one side and many other space-operas made “just to bring entertainment” on the other. Smart films profit more than the films which are not smart.

  20. Ok, so how do you explain that as a social and political conservative, who happens to take issues with some of your assessments of TDK, I still managed to enjoy the movie immensely? And how do you explain how I didn’t see those political implications? Does that make me some social moron who deserves a condescending smile and a pat on the head?

  21. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Dear Reaver,
    1. I think The Dark Knight (I purposely avoid TDK because it reminds me of the firm with the same name, which annoys me) is pretty apologetic of the Bush/right-wing conservative administration (that’s why you, as a conservative, are enjoying it). Nevertheless, I too say it’s a great movie. Rightwingers have their moments too. I think Kevin Costner Wyatt Earp version had something in it. But, back to The Dark Knight. Think of its message, that one should lie to people for their own good. If it’s not conservative par excellence, nothing is. It screams: people are sheep that need a strong leader! Myself, being as red as they come, much more enjoyed in the Joker or the Two-Face character, because they were more complex and provided some great insights in today society.
    2. You didn’t see political implications because you, as a conservative, don’t need nor want to see them. One analyzes, discerns only what one wants changed. That’s why most of the intellectuals are on the left (earlier I mentioned some names, Chaplin, Einstein, Brecht… Well, they were all communists).
    3. It’s not just that the rightwingers don’t see political implications, disqualify analysis, etc. They would also like to claim it does not exist. If knowledge is power, rightwingers want only few to have power, therefore they hide knowledge by claiming there are no things to be analysed, there’s no need to get so deep into it, etc.

  22. @Reaver
    Movies who challenge your own view and/or ethic may be the most enjoyable of all 😀 (simply because NO ETHIC or political view is so found that you never rethink it or maybe struggle at its core. If there would be something that ultimate and perfect, then we all would follow it and not disagree)

    Best example for me personally was History of Violence. In europe, especially in germany, we are raised with an super-mega-extreme anti violence credo. Violence is bad as a principle. But then i watched the movie and it was structured so intelligently, that you simply had to come to like the main character played by Mortensen.

    As the movie progresses you find out more about him and still, because he wasn’t introduced the way the others where you struggle to get this sympathy out of your head and then the movie takes a sharp turn and ends and you sit there in the cinema your head full of thoughts why you could relate to SUCH a person? Why could you somehow forgive him his sins?

    The drive home was filled with discussions about ethics and who thought what with my girlfriends and my friends and it made the whole movie so memorable, because of that. The car btw. was filled with “honest average joes” and not only university graduates 😀 and they still remember the movie because of this interesting subtext and questions floating around.

  23. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Nothing like the good old German ethics, Waldgeyst 🙂 Speaking of which, in Immanuel Kant’s “Critique of Practical Reason”, sublime good is equal to sublime evil: they are both highly ethical. Why? Because “usual”, “everyday” evil is done in order to get personal gain. But on the other side, evil done by him who pays no attention to repercussions, done without any thought of what the consequences might be for the evildoer because of his deeds, is done according to the high ethic code. I always saw Conan as an example of that – Conan being highly ethical, but doing good as well as evil deeds, and being ethical not in spite of that but precisely because of that.

    This ethics “beyond good and evil” is related to what Waldgeyst said about Germany having super-extra-anti-violence credo. Liberal pacifists are usually taken as being highly ethical, but their critique of violence is there just so they could justify any kind of act against those violence has being attributed to. For example, US is always highly pacifistic in their intentions, so they say Saddam is violent, and that legitimizes them to bomb the hell out of Iraq. Anti-violence is never ethical. That’s why it is not the right question do films (like Conan movies) have to be violent or not (they do!), but how, which modus of violence should they use, etc.

    By the way, did anyone see that quasi-leftist crap “The Day the Earth Stood Still”? There you have a perfect example of the liberal anti-violence credo: aliens are justified in their genocidal attempt because humans are violent, poluters etc.

  24. Wow, I’m insulted by your implications, and bored with your rhetoric. Good day, sir.

  25. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    It was not my intention to insult anyone. I’m sorry you feel this way about it. Good day to you, too.

  26. How did a fantasy story turn into a political argument?

  27. A fundamental disagreement on the supposed presence of political commentary in movies such as The Dark Knight.

  28. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Politics is all about the impossible. People nowadays (and since 1990ies) think politics is about administration, governing, etc. But it’s not. It’s about utopias, it’s always about more than that what is already here. Politics first came from polis, cities, where people where in an unnatural state and they had to deal with it. Politics is always about some excess that transcends that which is already present. Politics is about ideal models and the most unideal models. About utopias and distopias, about the making of a new man, new political subject. Politics is, for example, about dealing with cyborgs (the man and the machine problem), about people treated like animals or about people behaving like animals, and politics is about people who behave like they are more than human, superhuman etc. Politics is about ethics in impossible situations. You see where I am aiming at. Fantasy is a politically explicit genre, more than any other genre. Fantasy is always about ethics in impossible situations, about what is human and what is not human, about perfect societies or totally unperfect, nightmarish societies, or individuals for that matter.

  29. outlanderthemovie Says:

    All right gentlemen. You will walk ten paces, turn and fire a single shot. Good luck to you both.

    Kortoso – the fantasy story turned into a political story because Conan fans are cool intelligent folk who don’t mind mixing it up. I personally am thrilled to be reading all these views.

    Trying to think where to insert myself. I think that there are truths to be found in much of what has been said here, but I think one should be careful in assigning wide values to one’s own viewpoint. Just the other day I told my girls that it is very dangerous to extrapolate a line from a single point. Being 12, they simply looked at me like I was nuts.

    By that, I mean to say I see Reaver underselling the importance of social commentary in film and Carlos overselling it. There are all kinds of films and each asks to be seen in its own way. I have little doubt personally, that TDK was intended to be seen as utilizing, perhaps commenting, on some of the issues of the day. The parallels are simply too close to ignore. HOWEVER, it does not have to be taken as social commentary to succeed as an entertainment. It is, at its core, a damn fine, fun movie. (And should have been nominated for Best Picture, IMO) I suggest however, Reaver, that it did so well because it had something on its mind other than explosions. Whether they thought about the issues or not, people internally felt that it had RELEVANCE. It took place in an alternate universe, but it was about the here and now.

    On the other hand, Carlos, I think you overanalyze Titanic. Cameron is given a situation – the sinking ship – and wants to set a love story on it. Certainly he could have chosen any star-crossed lovers, but given the reality of the situation, it is almost impossible to imagine him NOT choosing the rich/poor hurdle for them. Rich versus poor is an old trope and not what the movie was about. The movie was about Jack teaching Rose to live her own life. The hurdle – her station in life – could just as well have been religious, or ethnic.

    I can’t really come down on any single view of film except for the bottom line – that it entertain. That is the bedrock. From there one can go anywhere. One can create Dodgeball ( a favorite of mine) which, yes, does decry soulless capitalism, but which draws no particular intellectual benefit from this theme. One can create Underworld 3, which uses as a backdrop a master/slave relationship, but which can hardly be said to explore the issue. But one can also move on to Milk, which is highly political, All The President’s Men, Platoon, etc. These are entertaining films (IMO) that speak of broad issues. I think they speak eloquently, persuasively and from the heart. I think it is a mistake to dismiss them simply because they are films. That stinks of snobbery.

    Film is many things – it is what is intended, AND it is what is experienced. That is the truth of all art – in fact, of life : There is a gap, anywhere from one inch to a light-year across, between intention and perception. Perception is colored by many things, not the least of which are the artist’s abilities and the viewer’s preconceptions.

    In short, sometimes a tunnel is a tunnel; sometimes it isn’t. Depends on who’s drawing; depends on who’s looking.

  30. Here’s an interesting thing that came to mind from reading Dirk’s comment… My wife is pretty much the poster girl for the person who all the seemingly cash grabbing hollywood films are aimed at. She absolutely detests it when the good guy dies, laughs at the most inane jokes and pretty much soaks in the predictable like comfort food… and that’s the point. She comes home from work at the end of the day and just wants something mindless and feel-good to take her mind off things, not to make her ponder the horrible plight of the world.

    In that sense my movie taste is nearly polar opposite, though we do often agree on any number of popcorn flicks whether they be James Bond or Underworld. Personally I love movies with a little more depth and something to say… though I’m all for fun mash-em-ups too. While I have a definite sci-fi bent, the best movies for me are ones that make me think long after the credits roll. I remeber walking out of the theater after certain films and not being able to shake them for at least a few days… Those are still some of my favorites.

    Am I right in pointing out the stupidity or shallowness of films my wife enjoys? Not really. I’m right-brained and enjoy art on a level different than she does. She appreciates art, but just doesn’t connect to it the same way (With some exceptions). And I must say she does recognize when films are just not funny and complete and utter crap… usually.

    That doesn’t make any one kind of movie better or worse. But I think it nicely highlights why it’s important not to judge other people’s taste in movies, or what kind of subtext there might be in a given picture. Some people aren’t looking for it and neither do they want to. In fact, if a movie hits them over the head with it it’s more likely going to annoy them more than anything else… Different kinds of movies for different kinds of people. This doesn’t mean films don’t or should have subtext, just that not everyone is going to see it the same depending on their own circumstances and experiences.

    A movie like all the president’s men is an interesting example Dirk, since part of why I like the movie is the intrigue. The movie is definitely about politics in the sense that it’s based on real events surrounding an political scandal but it’s perfectly possible to watch the movie without siding with or necessarily even contemplating any of the broader issues brought up by the scandal or from the investigation itself.

  31. Yeah, I guess I did over react. I just hate being pigeonholed into a certain view because of my beliefs. I don’t think Carlos’ assessment as to why I don’t see the social commentary in TDK is accurate. Frankly, I just don’t think on those lines. Never have. And my socio-political views have swung both ways over the course of my adult life.

    I guess I’m probably just more like AD’s wife in some ways. I’ll take a lite shoot-em up/hack-em up over a socially relevant film any day. But if the explosions have a social message too, I guess that’s ok.

  32. outlanderthemovie Says:

    Lighter side now – all people must read this. It is excellence itself. Trust me.

  33. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Regarding the subject “film: entertainment or dialectic?” one could identify it as a proto-Hegelian model, where entertainment stands for thesis, while dialectic for antithesis. Now, a true move to follow from here, a move that would be Hegelian proper, would be to find a figure of synthesis. In this case, this means we have to move from the entertainment/dialectic opposition straight to dialectical entertainment, which is a figure in which entertainment “comes back to itself”, becomes reflexive via dialectic.

    Dialectical entertainment, or even better, dialectic as entertainment, does not mean that we make dialectic profane, that we make it vulgar in any way. Quite the opposite. And I’ll explain this by answering to what Dirk said about me overselling the Titanic by reading all sort of things from that movie. Well, I’m doing that on purpose. I’m overselling it so as to make a joke out of it by insisting too much on some of the hard-to-notice aspects of the movie.

    Just a slight digression. Here, we have to notice some things about what could be called “a joke proper”. First rule of jokes is that you never joke about things that are not serious. If you joke about things that are not serious, your joke becomes flat, it loses its grounds, loses its believability. For a joke to work, you need to joke only about the serious things, such as the poor being swallowed by the ocean, while the rich go on a rescue boat with the nice memories of an adventure, and so on. Remember that 1967 James Bond spoof, “Casino Royale” with David Niven? It didn’t work because “normal” James Bond, with Sean Connery and later with Roger Moore, was far from serious, and the spoof that tried to joke about this serial which was already anything but serious had to fail.

    So, the first thing here said about jokes is also a thing about theory, or about dialectics. Something becomes dialectical if you turn it upside down and inside out, so you can see the other side of it you didn’t see it before this dialectical and “dialecticizing” gesture. In order for theory, or dialectics to work, one must strive to make a comedy out of it. That’s the first rule of dialectical thinking. Now, a comedy is not as innocent as it sounds. In fact, comedy is very far from innocent – it provokes, mocks, challenges, it insults. Comedy is, per definitionem, violent. Just look at the Chaplin films, or look at Monty Python series. There’s nothing there but mocking, insulting, provoking. And, to stress the fact that comedy is but the other side of dialectics, who’s better to quote here but dr. Hannibal Lecter, who said: “You need to get more fun out of line, Clarice.”

    So, from entertainment and dialectics, we came to comedy as the most serious of all things, and, we got to comedy as something that is, on the contrary to the established believes, most violent. Which brings us back to violence, and to a problem earlier mentioned in Howard’s post, which is the problem of tolerance vs. violence. I would strongly argue against tolerance, and pro-violence. For a simple reason: when you tolerate, you ignore. When you say: “Oh, I tolerate my fellow man” what you mean is you don’t give a… thing about him or her, as long as they stay on a safe distance. If I want to be loved, in that same wanting I also want to be hated from some other aspect. And if I want someone to love me, I want that person to effect me, to change me to a certain extent. And change is always painful, as is any kind of affection. My God, I don’t want the person I want to love me to tolerate me instead! And if the price of love is also hate from some other side, than so be it. There are also examples used by a contemporary Marxist thinker, Slavoj Žižek, who said apropos tolerance, what would it be like if Martin Luther King Jr. demanded more tolerance for the African Americans? Or if suffragettes demanded more tolerance for women? It would be rather cynical for a black man or a woman to demand more tolerance. I mean, that was exactly their problem, being excluded from society, being tolerated on the edges of society, being left alone. So, they didn’t fight for tolerance. This is the part where Conan kicks in. Conan is a warrior. He is passionate about some things, but is also disciplined, and he has a strong moral code. He is militant. Militancy is something we were starting to lose when the tolerance speech started taking over. And, along losing militancy, we were starting to lose other things, like love, or hate, and like dedication to someone or to something special to us. But I think we are starting to miss it, so that is why it is now that is the right time to make another Conan movie. Because of Conan movie taking place in an alternate timeline, one cannot but see the plays of metaphors in it, so one cannot easily commit a mistake of interpreting violence and militancy of Conan in a wrong key. We get violence everyday anyhow, and what modus of violence is appropriate. And Conan movie is, or should be, all about that. Not just about that, but it is certainly one of the central themes.

  34. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    *Dr. Lecter quote is “…more fun out of life”, not “line”. I’m sure you’ll forgive me mistakes such as these that always find their way into a text when I try to type in this small window here.

  35. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    The point I was making here is that if the bottom-line of movies is entertainment, than there’s no reason why the same rule should not be applied to theory or to dialectics. The second point was that entertainment always comes “with a vengeance”: it is entertaining only for the price of affecting us and changing us. Here I strongly oppose the Guy Debord view on entertainment, and Debord’s book “Society of the Spectacle” is a kind of a Bible for many left-wingers, who found entertainment to be but a spectacle made in order to make people passive. His thesis was that we go, see a movie, and movie makes us passive, it is “active instead of us” etc. I disagree. I think movies, as well as other forms of “entertainment” are entertaining precisely because they provide us with a sort of cognitive mapping of the world around us. They introduce all kinds of things, such as good vs. evil, cowboys vs. Indians, etc. Entertainment is always about war, violence, taking sides, militancy if you will. Entertainment mobilizes. Just look at all the examples in history, look at westerns made during the Cold War, look at musicals made in Stalin’s SSSR, etc. Entertainment was always here either to provide us with “strength through unity” or, if unity was lacking, it was here to question why is it lacking, what course should we take now, etc.

  36. My head hurts…

    ::rolls eyes::

  37. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    That’s a good sign – if it hurts, than we’re getting somewhere.

  38. Sorry, I’m too much of a neanderthal to hold such a high-brow debate.

  39. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    I find it fascinating that people without arguments are militant to the extent that they want to dismiss any kind of argumentation as something that has no rights whatsoever to existence. As said before, power is knowledge, and those who are satisfied with the present distribution of power/knowledge are doing all they can to prevent any kind of re-distribution of power/knowledge so they could keep the status quo. But there’s nothing heroic in an attempt to prevent knowledge, therefore attempts like these are doomed to failure.

    But, Reaver, i don’t think you understand the stakes here. All of us who were Conan fans back then were stigmatized as proto-fascists. So the new Conan movie is left with the same issues, providing it’s not going to be a no-brainer. And judging from what we’ve heard from Dirk and Howard, I’m willing to bet it’s going to be very far from a no-brainer. So, if the new Conan is going to be a no-brainer, we got nothing big to talk about. But if it’s not, than the issues here are: is this story of a big lonely man with a giant sword proto-fascist or not, and if it is, why it is, and if it is not, again, why it is not? I’m saying it is not proto-fascist so that we, Conan fans, can intercept such critiques in advance. And if you don’t care about this, than I don’t think you really appreciate Conan, and what Conan stands for and what Conan means to many people.

  40. I hope you’re not referring to me…

    Because I don’t see this as an argument, really. It’s more of a closed-minded discussion between two people who refuse to see each other’s points of view.

    Frankly, I think your view perfectly fine. For you. Just because I don’t agree with it, or think about movies the way you do doesn’t make me wrong. And on a side note, this isn’t a college debate room. So, you really don’t need to use such “educated” language (I had to look up “dialectic” to know what the hell you were talking about).

    That last point is what I was referring to with my Neanderthal comment.

  41. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    I do not use any terms that havent already found their way in cinema. For dialectic see: Apocalypse Now.

  42. Nevermind.

  43. You guys are too smart for me. 😉

  44. outlanderthemovie Says:

    I have to admit I lean towards Reaver on one very important issue – language. I studied philosophy in college and it was fun to talk shit about nothing for hours. But philosophical thought has been ghettoized by the language it employs. It is hard to be relevant in a crowd when you choose to talk only to yourself. It’s like walking into McDonald’s and ordering in Tagalog and actually expecting to get what you ordered. The language of philosophy unintentionally creates an air of sophistry.

  45. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    When you say that language of philosophy is not understandable, I have to ask you: well, what language is?

    Here’s a nice one to illustrate my point:

    Secretary : – Mr. President, Condoleeza Rice is here to see you.
    George B. : – Good, send her in.
    Secretary : – Yessir.

    (Hangs up. Condi enters.)

    Condoleeza : – Good morning, Mr. President.
    George B. : – Oh Condoleeza, nice to see you. What’s happening?
    Condoleeza : – Well, Mr. President, I have the report here about the new leader in China.
    George B. : – Great, Condi. Lay it on me.
    Condoleeza : – Mr. President, Hu is the new leader of China.
    George B. : – Well, that’s what I want to know.
    Condoleeza : – But that’s what I’m telling you, Mr. President.
    George B. : – Well, that’s what I’m asking you, Condie. Who is the new leader of China?
    Condoleeza : – Yes.
    George B. : – I mean the fellow’s name.
    Condoleeza : – Hu.
    George B. : – The guy in China.
    Condoleeza : – Hu.
    George B. : – The new leader of China.
    Condoleeza : – Hu.
    George B. : – The Chinaman!
    Condoleeza : – Hu is leading China, Mr. President.
    George B. : – Whaddya’ asking me for?
    Condoleeza : – I’m telling you Hu is leading China.
    George B. : – Well, I’m asking you, Condie. Who is leading China?
    Condoleeza : – That’s the man’s name.
    George B. : – That’s who’s name?
    Condoleeza : – Yes.


    George B. : – Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of China?
    Condoleeza : – Yes, sir.
    George B. : – Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was in the Middle East.
    Condoleeza : – That’s correct.
    George B. : – Then who is in China?
    Condoleeza : – Yes, sir.
    George B. : – Yassir is in China?
    Condoleeza : – No, sir.
    George B. : – Then who is?
    Condoleeza : – Yes, sir.
    George B. : – Yassir?
    Condoleeza : – No, sir.

    (Pause. Crumples paper)

    George B. : – Condi, you’re starting to piss me off now, and it’s not ’cause you’re black neither. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. So why don’t you get me the Secretary General of the United Nations on the phone.
    Condoleeza : – Kofi Annan?
    George B. : – No, thanks. And Condi, call me George. Stop with that ebonics crap.
    Condoleeza : – You want Kofi?
    George B. : – No.
    Condoleeza : – You don’t want Kofi.
    George B. : – No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And then get me the U.N.
    Condoleeza : – Yes, sir.
    George B. : – Not Yassir! The guy at the United Nations.
    Condoleeza : – Kofi?
    George B. : – Milk! Will you please make that call?
    Condoleeza : – And call who?
    George B. : – Well, who is the guy at the U.N?
    Condoleeza : – No, Hu is the guy in China.
    George B. : – Will you stay out of China?!
    Condoleeza : – Yes, sir.
    George B. : – And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the U.N.
    Condoleeza : – Kofi.
    George B. : – All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone.

    (Condi picks up the phone.)

    Condoleeza : – Hello. Rice, here.
    George B. : – Rice? Good idea. And get a couple of egg rolls, too, Condi. Maybe we should send some to the guy in China. And the Middle East. Can you get chinese food in the Middle East? I don’t know.

  46. I don’t think that illustrates your point at all. It’s just a political satire version of “Who’s on first?”


    Try again. =]

  47. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    “GONG!” lol.

  48. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    I just saw the new Clint Eastwood film, Gran Torino, and there’s a scene there that says a lot about language. Eastwood brings his kid friend to a barber shop in order to teach him how grownups communicate. Although the kid has no wife, no car and no job, Eastwood tells him he should be bitching about all those things. So the kid goes on about how his old lady is a bitch, how his car broke down, and how they really screwed him at the car mechanic shop. So, this teaches us that language is not about understanding, but that language is all about conventions.

    Sometimes, conventions that were working yesterday are stale today and are no longer working. And what was unintelligible yesterday becomes a convention of today and everyone go along as if they understand it. Take the film language for example. Yesterday, Hollywood movie language was simple, continuity editing was Hollywood’s holly cow, and that was considered to be “understandable film language for an average moviegoer”. Today, things are rather different. With films like Quantum of Solace, Cloverfield, Bourne trilogy – which are big Hollywood movies, not some arthouse flicks – we got complex montage sequences, with jump cuts and with crossing the line, and with the abandonment of the 180 degree rule in some cases, we got Hollywood resurrecting Eisenstein’s intellectual montage, which is, by the way, something a decade ago no filmmaker would’ve believed is possible to happen in Hollywood. These experiences teach us that no language should be dismissed in advance, and that especially the language of philosophy should not be dismissed lightly, because we are living in times that grow more and more reflective. And we also live in times where people have more than ever realized they shouldn’t have left everything “in the hands of the experts” in the past, and where general population is taking more and more stuff in their own hands.

  49. I’m really not sure what you’re getting at here. Is this in relation to this discussion thread in any way?

  50. Well I think this is quite interesting point of view. You can not dismiss some thing on a account of language, for it is constantly changing. Anything to avoid another Scorpion King.
    Any news on who might be playing Conan, or in general regarding actors and actresses?

  51. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    I just came back from the cinema, where my girlfriend and I watched UNDERWORLD 3: RISE OF THE LYCANS. I don’t know what to say… It’s such a great movie! (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!) It’s short and action packed, but not at the expense of narrative or the message it delivers – and it really has something valuable to deliver indeed! There are many memorable scenes, such as the vampire elder staring at his opponent and being so blinded by hatred that he doesn’t even pay any attention to the sunlight that burns him, or the grand finale of the movie where vampires and werewolves confront each others in a bloody battle that’s taking place in the vampire castle. Werner Herzog once said that making movies is all about bringing to life pictures that one had not seen before. Well, this movie has such pictures, a lot of them. Although Underworld 3 borrows (and at times, borrows heavily) from The Matrix series, or from Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines video game, it nevertheless brings a whole different context to what it borrows, so that that what was borrowed is here being “transfigured” into something significantly different, and therefore into something new and original. Now, about the message… This film speaks the truth! On one side there are vampires, on the other there are werewolves, and humans are in the middle, just like in the real life. Vampires are the upper class and from their point of view, everything is about races (racial purity, racial rights, etc.). On the other side, werewolves who are the lower class don’t think at all about races, but instead, they see everything in the class terms – they see the upper and the lower class. And the film is not afraid of taking sides, it does not play the usual liberal game of “staying neutral”. The film speaks the truth because it posits itself alongside the lower class, so that the film itself presents us with the class terms as something that is true, while presenting racist terms as something that is untrue. And – and there are also the liberals, who are plotting alongside the upper class about making the class division within the lower class – there’s a guy at the vampire court suggesting they should create an upper class of the werewolves to serve them against the lower class. There you have the origins of the much praised middle class! The film also doesn’t hesitate at showing the true nature of the revolution – it is bloody, and the revolutionaries are turning into bloody beasts while fighting for their rights. It is the condition for the successful revolution – for it to work, you need to really fight (Lenin, Castro or Chavez did not hold hands in a prayer for a more tolerant world, they fought, and so do students and workers today in Greece!). I was speaking before I saw the movie, when I just new some plot details, that it sounded to me like it’s a new take on the James Cameron’s Titanic problematics. And, I expressed my hopes it will not fail where Titanic failed. And it didn’t! While in Titanic we get the poor lower class guy to die while leaving the rich girl alive so she could remember her adventures as something romantic that happened in the past, here we get the poor lower class guy staying alive but hurt, while getting the rich girl dead because she dared to transgress the class division. And, here we have the lower class guy who keeps fighting. In Titanic, we had the romantic past, while in Underworld 3 we have present that goes on into the future – future class war! My sincerest complements to all who made this great film!

  52. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    * P.S. What I wrote above is not a complement but A COMPLIMENT. Again, I apologize for my English. Again, I count not on English speaking visitors of this site’s understanding of singular words as much as sentences, contexts, syntax, enunciation, etc.

  53. […] and other movies – those guys make for a great team it seems – but after a while he also posted some articles about the new Conan and the situation and answered some user […]

  54. outlanderthemovie Says:

    Thanks Carlos for the kind, and extremely, no, extraordinarily thoughtful analysis and words. As for your slight slip in spelling, I must consider that I cannot communicate in any other language beside English and therefore will of course overlook it.

    However, on one of your former posts, you talk about people taking things into their own hands and not wanting to leave things in the hands of ‘experts’. I would say you are making precisely my point. To a great extent, the language of philosophy is the language of the (intellectual) masters. They are upper-class words that could easily have been designed to keep out lower-class thinkers. A country club of thought. The world may very well become more reflective but it will be using middle-class vocabulary.

  55. outlanderthemovie Says:

    Armada – things are just not far enough along for there to be any concrete news about Conan casting. They haven’t even landed a director yet. I still believe that the path will be to find a Conan rather than cast a name actor, altho if Will Smith says he wants to play Conan I’m sure they’ll change that. I’m kidding. But maybe not. I watched Vicky Christy Barcelona the other day and thought that whoever mentioned Javier Bardem was actually right. He’s got a really good look. However, this Conan will be much younger than that. 😉

  56. Reaver wrote:

    “Sorry, man. You lost me when you admitted to being a pro film critic. People in your profession are, IMO, one step above lawyers, generally. Most critics seem like they wouldn’t know a “good” movie (as in entertaining, which is what movies are supposed to be) from a hole in the ground.”

    Well, isn’t there a grain of truth in that those who completely lack talent to become artists often become critics instead.

    And in my opinion the critics suffer way too much from an “Emperor’s new clothes”-syndrome. It’s spun out of hand and it seems to have gone so far that there are now movements who protest against mulesing of the sheep they use for the wool they spin into the thread they weave into the fabric they sew the Emperor’s clothes from.

    No offense, Carlos. It’s not personal.

  57. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    You’re welcome, Dirk. I really liked the movie and I wrote what I thought of it, and felt it was in order for me to write since I previously mentioned that the plot of the Underworld 3 touches some really sensitive questions. I was overwhelmed that you, the filmmakers got it so right, so I support that movie with all my heart.

    About this other thing, about the language of philosophy being the language of (intellectual) masters – I agree with you on this 100%. That’s really how things are. But why is that? How much does it cost to go to a really good university, and does it really pay off to study something like philosophy and not management or dentistry instead? That’s my answer to why philosophers today are an upper-class country club.

    The next question I think is implicitly asked in your post is whether the lower class should just abandon philosophy and similar things because it is at the moment in the hands of the upper class? To answer this, I would draw a parallel here between philosophy and, say, militancy. In 1968 if you were leftist you were automatically also a pacifist, protesting against military, war, etc. And, those same pacifists of 1968 became yappies during the 80ties. But, after the end of the 90ties, it became obvious that if you want to change things, you got to be willing to be truly radical, militant, etc. Militancy, war, etc. was than re-appropriated by the left, and so we got the Seattle movement, or what is happening in Greece today, on one side, and people like Hugo Chavez on the other. I think it’s a great Marxist concept, the re-appropriation. You don’t turn your back on something good just because it is in the wrong hands, but instead you re-appropriate it. Besides, the right-wing conservatism today has many qualities that were originally on the left, like solidarity, the critique of capitalism, etc. The left should re-appropriate those things. Same with philosophy. If philosophy is master’s language, than what’s the problem here? Revolution is all about overthrowing the old masters and inaugurating the new, different ones. If philosophy is a language of the masters, than along with the new regime comes the new philosophy, not the abandonment of philosophy.

    Now, I don’t have any illusions about the previously mentioned Hugo Chavez, I know what he’s doing in Venezuela is structurally the same as what’s been going on in the U.S. nowadays, with the state regulated free market, etc. so I know what he’s doing is not so much communism as much as it is in fact state-capitalism, but one of the things I think he did right was he made education available to people who were living in favelas. And, not just any education, but especially politics. He introduced people from favelas to Venezuela’s politics, Venezuela’s constitution, etc. He didn’t say – Oh, it’s been touched by the filthy hands of this one or that one, so we’ll have nothing to do with it. He took politics, the “masterhood”, etc. and shared it with the people, made them masters, at least to a certain degree.

  58. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Aesir, there are billions of different but equally valuable opinions, but there is only one truth. Luckily, the truth in these matters significantly differs from your opinion, and we have following authors to prove it: Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Bernardo Bertolucci, Dario Argento, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ingmar Bergman, Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader… And these are but a few that come to my mind when I try to remember those who were both film critics and film authors. …Oh, wait, I forgot! Films are supposed to be dumb to be entertaining, so I got it all wrong here and none of the authors I mentioned was successful in making good films. Nevermind.

  59. Oh and on the whole “simple language” thing a nice read from Mr. Orwell:


  60. Here’s a question, Carlos: What is the purpose of a film critic? Why does he do what he does?

  61. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Apropos “simple language”, here’s the one right from Jonathan Swift, so get your bags ready – the bigger the bags the better:

    “The first Project was to shorten Discourse by cutting Polysyllables into one, and leaving out Verbs and Participles, because in reality all things imaginable are but Nouns.
    The other, was a Scheme for entirely abolishing all Words whatsoever; and this was urged as a great Advantage in Point of Health as well as Brevity. For it is plain, that every Word we speak is in some Degree a Diminution of our Lungs by Corrosion, and consequently contributes to the shortning of our Lives. An Expedient was therefore offered, that since Words are only Names for Things, it would be more convenient for all Men to carry about them, such Things as were necessary to express the particular Business they are to discourse on. And this Invention would certainly have taken Place, to the great Ease as well as Health of the Subject, if the Women in conjunction with the Vulgar and Illiterate had not threatned to raise a Rebellion, unless they might be allowed the Liberty to speak with their Tongues, after the manner of their Ancestors; such constant irreconcilable Enemies to Science are the common People. However, many of the most Learned and Wise adhere to the New Scheme of expressing themselves by Things, which hath only this Inconvenience attending it, that if a Man’s Business be very great, and of various kinds, he must be obliged in Proportion to carry a greater bundle of Things upon his Back, unless he can afford one or two strong Servants to attend him. I have often beheld two of those Sages almost sinking under the Weight of their Packs, like Pedlars among us; who, when they met in the Streets, would lay down their Loads, open their Sacks, and hold Conversation for an Hour together; then put up their Implements, help each other to resume their Burthens, and take their Leave.
    But for short Conversations a Man may carry Implements in his Pockets and under his Arms, enough to supply him, and in his House he cannot be at a loss: Therefore the Room where Company meet who practise this Art, is full of all Things ready at Hand, requisite to furnish Matter for this kind of artificial Converse.”


  62. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    What is the purpose of a film critic?

    No purpose at all. And that is the main significance of a film critic or a theorist of any kind whatsoever, which is by the way significance that’s getting bigger as we speak. Today, THE ideological imperative is: “Don’t just talk, do something!” And as soon as we look at the global crisis we have today in front of us, we see where exactly this imperative has brought us. Look at what’s going on now – no one knows if the bailout plan is going to work or not, no one thinks about it, but everyone is doing something, no matter that it can easily turn out what they’re doing is wrong, as long as they are “doing something, not thinking”.

    We are living in a culture of doing and not thinking. And we are doing more and more so we could think even less. This culture is concerned about purposes because it is a police culture, a bureaucratic culture, that demands products, demands that you do, that you work, that you obey, and not think. Theorists of any kind are therefore our last hope to break up with such a culture.

    In order for this police culture to work out, one must constantly be diverted from thinking by any means possible, and therefore we got the aesthetization of everything – aesthetization of not just art, but politics, everyday life, etc. Everything is “beautiful in its inner self or not”, and “you must feel this, and not think about it”. That’s what the dominant ideology dictates.

    The very opposite of this was proposed a long time ago by Walter Benjamin (who’s by no accident one of the first theoreticians of film), who said that, to confront this ideological mode of general aesthetization, we have to bring politics even to art, and especially to film, because film is, according to Benjamin, the “political unconscious” (as opposed to psychology that deals with the individual unconscious).

    Walter Benjamin
    The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

  63. outlanderthemovie Says:

    I have to jump in in defense of Carlos and film critics.

    First off though, I will vent a bit. Many film critics aren’t worth the bytes they take up in cyberspace. This is usually because A) they don’t understand film and B) they do not criticize the movie they have seen – they criticize the movie they wish it had been. I can’t tell you how many stupid reviews of Outlander I have seen. And let me be clear – I don’t mean stupid because they didn’t like the film, I mean stupid because of how they went about writing about why they didn’t like it. Critics are very often mean-spirited and small, myopic and uninformed.

    That may even be the majority. But… there are those who know and love film and wish to connect with others who love film as they do. I believe that their job is simple: to understand what the artist’s intent was and to make a reasoned judgment about how well they achieved that goal. What this critic is doing then, is helping to raise the bar on films – whatever kind they are – by asking movies to be better at what they are trying to be. A bad critic would tell us that Milk was a great film because it dealt with the human condition and Friday the 13th was a bad film because it was just a slasher film. A better critic might in fact say that Friday was a more successful film because it achieved 90% of what it aimed for – bloody mayhem – while Milk, though sporting a wonderful performance by Sean Penn, amounted to little more than a hagiography. (I love that word. BTW, I write this without having seen Friday. It might have sucked.)

    I short, a critic must understand the goal of the piece and then assess its success in meeting that goal. If the critic does that, then he/she has added something to the art, rather than injected it with his own gas.

  64. Dirk, any information about this leaked script that’s going around? Apparently it’s Oppenheimer and Donneley’s first draft.

  65. I see things a bit differently, but it may be due to my relation with the film industry: As a Consumer.

    IMHO, a critic’s job is to critique a movie and objectively point out it’s strengths and flaws from the view of the Consumer. The reason is that people like me wonder if a movie is worth watching, so we read critiques. If a movie gets bad reviews, ideally, we avoid it. However, it has been my experience that 90% of the time, a movie panned by critics turns out to be entertaining and successful. IE: A GOOD movie. And the opposite can also be true. Because, when you take away the high-speech and philosophical rhetoric, a “good” movie is one that delivers what it is meant to. Whether the viewer sees more than what is on the screen is irrelevant. Because that comes down to individual opinions…and opinions, by definition CAN’T be wrong, and are therefore beyond debate.

    The problem is, most viewers, critics and consumers alike, go into a movie with preconceived notions and biases, sometimes subconscious, and these will effect their view. The solution: Don’t critique the kinds of movies you don’t enjoy watching. If your tastes lead you to watch Milk, then don’t critique Rambo, because they are two very different kinds of movies.

    A critic needs to walk into a theater with the proper mindset, based on the movie he/she is going to view and critique. If you’re watching an action movie, just look to be entertained. Don’t look for Shakespearean performances, or hidden metaphors and meanings. Because, the consumers who are most likely to watch the film won’t be looking for those things either.

    I don’t know. I could be rambling here.

  66. I certainly would love to get any word on the leaked Donelly script. No details, no nothing, just if the present script is as far away from REH as the one presented in the videopodcast

    Paradox sadly did not want to say anything on the matter.

  67. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    “In short, a critic must understand the goal of the piece and then assess its success in meeting that goal.” I agree with this and think it is a very good way of putting in very few words what the film theory is about. And I’d also like to add that theory, or the analysis, is always also about love. I love movies, certain movies I love so much that I watch them once a month for a certain period of time, for a couple of months or so, than I stop, and than after a while I come back to them again. And I interpret them each time I watch them. Each new interpretation is a sign of love towards the interpreted – film in this case. It is a sign of love, but not the love itself, in a sense that to love a film, you must watch it and come up with new interpretation, and at the same time be aware that this interpretation is always separated by a gap from the film itself. And, it is precisely this gap between the interpretation and the interpreted that is love. This gap is the impossibility of reducing the loved to the interpretation. But, to have this love, to have the impossibility of reduction of the loved to the interpretation, you must have the interpretation first. The interpretation, that almost coincides with the interpreted, but never really, never fully. It always misses, the interpretation. Just like in those cases when you are trieing to describe the person you love: “I love her/him because of her/his eyes/goodness/intelligence/humor/etc. ” You go on making a list that is never complete. But this incompleteness is precisely what constitutes that “something”, that you can not name, or that you can name “love”. A couple of posts ago I offered an interpretation of Underworld 3. But Underworld 3 cannot be reduced to it, it is that and it is something more at the same time. And the next time I am going to watch it, I’m sure I’m going to come up with the new interpretation, that will also almost hit the mark, but not really. That is, I would say, what a film critic does. Film critic loves films. And love is beyond good and bad, we love the bad in a loved one as well as good. Critic is not a judge. Critic is also not a consumer guide. Consumers consume, they don’t love. Difference between how a film critic – professional or not – sees a film and how a consumer sees it is a difference between a lover and a prostitute: consumer gets it done with it and than throws it away, while film critic adores it, loves it for a long time, and as byproduct delivers proofs of his/hers love in the form of text.

  68. “Critic is also not a consumer guide.”

    That’s where we disagree. Critics give movies a grade or rating, so that a Consumer can get an idea of how good a movie is, or might be. That’s why the big critics often publish their points before a movie is even released. Otherwise, without the Consumer taking something useful from a critique, the Critic is just a babbling fanboy, wasting space in a newspaper/website. I mean, if we’re not supposed to use your critiques as a barometer for the quality of a film, what point is there to read your critique? And therefore, what point is there for you to even give one?

    KnowwhatImean, Verne?

  69. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    What’s with the “Verne”? Anyways. Here’s the problem, Reaver, that I see in yours:

    “whether the viewer sees more than what is on the screen is irrelevant, because that comes down to individual opinion, and opinions, by definition CAN’T be wrong, and are therefore beyond debate”,

    that in addition leads to your:

    “without the Consumer taking something useful from a critique, the Critic is just a babbling fanboy, wasting space in a newspaper/website”.

    I’ll explain.

    A good film sends a message to you, or not actually a message but a question, or provocation. A worthy piece of art provokes. It provokes, it challenges you. And you cannot not answer this challenge. So, you address a great piece of art with all you can. But, if it is really great, it sends your message back to you. So, you learn, you educate yourself, you try, and you address it again. And you fail again. But, you fail better this time. This failure is the necessary ingredient of all love relationships, it’s a sacrifice made in the honor of the beloved, and here it is not important if the beloved is a person or a piece of art. You love someone, and you love this person because of… But you can never actually say why exactly. BUT! – If you stop with trying to come up with an answer, if you stop addressing the person you love as if you knew her/him, if you stop with the process of getting to know her/him better, if you stop with improving yourself on the count of trying to answer this, than the love relationship fades away and vanishes into thin air.

    To transpose this to film: If you don’t try to come up with an interpretation of a film, than you were either not provoked by it, so the movie in question is bad, OR you think there are no worthy interpretations, just opinions that are all equal, or all equally inadmissible I should say, because if you cannot prefer one over the other, than you effectively act as if they are all bad, no matter what you think.

    And if there are just opinions that are all equally (not) valuable, if there is no space for interpretation, if there is no demand for interpretation, than there’s also no love for a piece of art. If there’s no love for art, there’s no art. If you don’t let people be challenged by art, if you don’t let them try to answer to the provocation of art, you suppress art, but you also suppress the people who are improving themselves through things such as art, politics, love, etc. That’s what’s wrong with consumerism. You don’t love, you consume, and you are not improving yourself but stagnating and waiting as a vegetable or a domestic animal to be fed by someone. That’s why there are opinions such as these, that one should do film critiques, one should analyze, one should think instead of someone else. That’s why I said that the film critic is someone who loves film and produces texts as byproducts of his/hers love. And his/hers social value is in providing an example of how everyone else should (or even should not) deal with the provocation of art.

  70. Carlos the Jackal Says:


    Notice that I’ve made a circle here and came back to what Dirk said about film critics: “…[A] critic must understand the goal of the piece and then assess its success in meeting that goal. If the critic does that, then he/she has added something to the art, rather than injected it with his own gas.”

    Critic is not a, and is very far from a consumer because consumer consumes in order to support himself/herself. Critic supports art. Again, just like in a love relationship, here one does not belong to himself/herself but fully belongs to the beloved – a person, or a piece of art. Consumer is an individual looking only after his/hers own well being, while a theorist does not care about himself/herself because he/she cares only about that that he loves.

    So, a critic is a kind of follower, not unlike fanatic followers of Mola Ram’s Kali cult in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, who are ready to sacrifice themselves for the good of something higher. Or, a critic, because he is all about that that is outside of him/her is here ore like a Jedi, while consumer, with his inwards orientation is more like a Sith (an explanation given in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith). You know what I mean?

  71. If an experienced and educated filmgoers doesn’t understand a film, then to whom shouild we be looking?

  72. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Then seek answers to all your questions in The Wall Stree Journal:

  73. But as a professional critic, do you not critique to support yourself? Sounds to me like you place yourself on a pedestal above us lowly consumers.

    Do you have any clue just how arrogant you sound sometimes, Carlos?

  74. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Hey, Reaver, here’s a great line for you that sounds like it just got out of some flick not unlike Spartacus : “Just because I’m a slave like everyone else doesn’t mean I have to like it (like everyone else, or at least most of…). And if me not liking slavery – although I am nothing but a slave – is taken for arrogance, than so be it!” Ever read Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener”? It’s a bout a scribe, a low official, a servant, how goes around and, in spite of his position, often repeats to his superiors: “I would prefer not to.” And, he’s also commonly understood as one arrogant son of a gun.

  75. So what do you think about those Conan stories?
    So much ink spilled here, and little to say about Howard’s brainchild.
    This bodes ill, methinks.

  76. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Just a quick segue to my previous reply to Reaver:

    To level with you and to all other guys here, I’m not exactly sure that Marxism is anything but a regulative mechanism of the capitalism itself (and the present state of things with some form o socialism introduced to the U.S. economy hints in that very direction), so I’ll have to get back to you on this one when I find the answer. So, to continue on the subject of consumerism – I’m a consumer, and I am, like everyone else, impressed with all the benefits of consumerism. Even this stuff I’m writing about here, well, did any of you see, for example, the bonus material on the RoboCop Director’s Cut DVD? I just saw it the other day. You got people behind the movie talking about Christ and Che Guevara, about RoboCop providing fascism for liberals, and discussing capitalism in the Regan era at length. So, I could say and be right about it that what we’re doing here in this conversation is making a bases for a Conan DVD extras section material in advance. We’re adding something to the product and therefore making it even more valuable for the consumer.

  77. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    I suppose your question was addressed to everyone here, so I’ll give you my short answer. What I like in Howard is that he is no bullshit writer in a sense that he does not waste pages to describe in details anything that is more effectively described in just few hints. I admire that. What I also like in his stories I’ve read (and I’ve read his Conan cycle, couldn’t find the rest of his writings at the time) is the atmosphere, the strangeness that shines from the lands Conan roams and creatures Conan meets, so that even in the adolescent fantasy like The Frost Giant’s Daughter, the very atmosphere transcends the simplicity, even vulgarity of the narrative. My favorite Conan stories are The Tower of the Elephant mostly because of Conan’s relation to the strange creature, than, Rogues in the House because of it’s satirical political undertone, Queen of the Black Coast because of its tragic overtones and heavy atmosphere. And I like the rest of them. I had some trouble at the time with stories like Shadows in the Moonlight because it really has much sword and sorcery cliches and nothing else to it, but as the time goes by even those stories stay with me. For some time I was thinking, say, Michael Moorcock was far better than Howard, when S&S is concerned, but now I find Moorcock pretentious, trieing to be too smart etc, and I like in Howard his simplicity, even his pulp writer qualities. Nevertheless, there are some big problems when someone tries to transfer Howard’s Conan to the big screen. Aside from the atmosphere and sometimes great twists in the narrative, the main problem is Conan himself. He is, basically, your average Douglas Fairbanks. He goes around, fights, drinks, has women, and that’s basically it. I can imagine a great silent movie, preferably with Douglas Fairbanks, strictly based on Howard. But, I can’t imagine a “talkie” that could be successful and stick to Howard. In talking pictures, characters tend to have more inner conflicts, doubts, changes AND/OR more twists in the narrative of the movie that substitute the inner events. In Milius’ Conan, Milius had great strategy – there are a sidekicks not unlike John Wayne’s sidekicks, and than, the whole movie plays more like an opera (or a silent movie), not really like an avarage talkie. But still, in spite those strategies, Milius had to introduce, for better or for worse, a “more colorful” Conan. To see where I’m getting at, just think about the artistic and even box office unsuccessfulness of, say, Fantastic Four, and than the successfulness of Watchmen. We live in times where we demand more of our heroes in terms of their character changes, advancement, setbacks etc. If you’ve seen Watchmen, think just about what character there resembles Conan the most. It’s the Comedian. And, he is a cynic, a womanizer, and a brute. And he dies first because he is not the character our times really nourish. And, if you think back about Howard’s Conan, you’ll see Conan was “at home”, so to speak, in the thirties. So, Conan as a character has to be meddled with in order for a film to work. And that is some pretty slippery ground, because I’ve seen what was Conan like in the TV series and in the cartoons (Conan talking to parrots, like he’s Sport Billy). In short – Conan could have kept his barbaric innocence in the silent movies, but if you want a talkie with Conan that will really work, you got to introduce something that wasn’t in Howard. And, than you’ll get what Dracula fans got with Coppola’s Dracula that was really based on a book, but added much to it, so it wasn’t same Dracula. And so on. So, Howard’s Conan is one thing, and Conan on film has to be something else. And I don’t think there’s a recepie for the Conan film to work, so I guess we’ll just have to see what is going to come out of it.

  78. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    What I wrote above is how I think things are, not how I think they should be. I see ideology at work in the present trend of making heroes more human. If I was to ask about how Conan should be treated in the forthcoming movie, I’d say take some risks and make him not more human but the very opposite of it – make him more inhuman. I already said that I could see Conan work in the same way Darth Mole was made, with lots of make up and CGI, and someone else on this blog already compared Conan with King Kong.

  79. I strongly disagree with Conan being like the Comedian. Conan would never be such a mindless, careless brute without any code of honor and just in for the personal gain. You portrait him much dumber than he acted in the stories and… most importantly, he would never violate a woman just like that.

  80. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    I watched “Watchmen” again. I agree, I oversimplified things by comparing Conan to Comedian. Still, they kinda got the similar kind of aura, being over-masculine and all that. That’s what I was aiming at, how over-masculine guys are seen today in popular culture. But, no, Conan is not the same as the Comedian character in any other respect.

  81. Carlos the Jackal Says:

    Ratner: “The script is very cool, contemporary. […] It’s not an homage. It’s not a remake, really. It’s going back to the original source material — the mythology of the characters. […] [Screenwriters Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain] just did an incredible, incredible job or else I wouldn’t be risking it…”

    This means that the script is finished. Congratulations!

    • outlanderthemovie Says:

      Hey Carlos. I just put this info in a new post: we actually did not write Conan 1. We are writing Conan 2. That was actually a misquote – he was talking about the Donnelly/Oppennheimer draft. And you might be forgiven for wondering how it can be both ‘cool and contemporary’ and also go ‘back to the original source materials.’. Have you read that script yet?

      • Wait lemme ask this again…

        Donnelly/Oppenheimer script is going to used for the Conan movie coming now and YOUR script is going to be used for the movie that comes ofter this?

      • Forget what i wrote 😀 i just read the opening post hehe.. sooorryy..

  82. Blair Wheeler Says:

    God- I hated Watchmen, actually walked out after an hour of that shit. Can’t beleive the budget it got. The Comedian what a f….. joke..he shoots a pregnant woman, bearing his own child, and I’m supposed to feel pathos for this character… that’s definately not my idea of Conan- like qualities….Would much rather have seen Outlander, made on a shoe-string budget, that was realeased simultaneously,in selected theaters, but hasen’t yet played here in Canada..not that I’m aware of anyway. It was a pleasure working as an extra, on the set for Outlander in Newfoundland, even in the freezing cold, thought I was going to catch my death. The vision that Dirk and Howard had, to film in this little corner of the world-I’m assuming- for authenticity, shows the lengths they are willing to go to…Can’t wait to see it. If that high of a standard is acheived for Conan, then no worries -it’s in good hands…Would love to get on the Conan set as an extra…Man!.. to be a part of that… Would do it for nothing!

  83. Thank you for your thoughts, Carlos.

    I agree that Conan needs to be tinkered with in order to work. Many die-hard REH fans can’t see beyond their devotion, but it is true.

    The fault with Milius is that he stepped outside of the theme and the character. A little sophisticated literary research would find a strong theme of barbarism versus civilization coded inside the stories, and inside Howard’s poetry.

    A barbarian wandering alone into the city. This is a perfect opportunity to explore this theme. I will be greatly disappointed if it’s neglected.

    As far as Conan’s character arc, it is clear that Conan has a learning curve as he visits the civilized lands. Howard is too kind to his character to allow him weakness, but a little bit would not hurt the story.

    Even by using original stories, one could detail this arc, even producing a three-act format. Three of the stories that would 1) Introduce us to the barbaric world that give rise to Conan (Frost-Giants Daughter), showing us honorable barbaric traditions.along the way, 2) show Conan’s first faltering steps in civilization and the mistakes he makes along the way (Tower of the Elephant) and his mistaken assumption that he is a lesser man for not knowing the rules, 2) a finale in which he figures out that it is his barbaric virtue that make him stronger than other men (Rogues in the House).

    Just ideas and suggestions, I just hate to throw babies out with bathwater.

  84. Is it true that Milius is working with some British studio to try an end-run around the CPI rights-holders and come out with his own Conan?

    If that’s true, who would you be rooting for? And this is open to the floor for debate. 🙂

  85. My only thing is that you have to give Milius some credit. He was working with a horribly bad script by Oliver Stone (even less REH in it than what made it on screen), he was also not very familiar with the character beyond the Frazetta paintings before Dino hired him, and he had to work with an actor in the main role who had trouble speaking English intelligibly. In the end, he took what he was handed and produced the best movie he could within the budget and time constraints.

    Frankly, it irritates me to no end when people want to just call Milius a hack and lay every bad thing they perceive about the film on him. Personally, I think it’s a great film, still one of my all-time favorites.

    As to him trying to get around the rights to produce his own, I bet that’s just rumor and heresay. But if he is doing it, cool. Maybe we’ll get another kick-ass S&S movie. And then the purists will have something new to hate on.

    • outlanderthemovie Says:

      I wouldnt hold your breath waiting for another Milius Conan. Rights are rights, and as of now they are held by Millennium via Paradox. ANd with all due respect, Reaver, I can’t help hating on the old Conan movie. Bad dialogue, acting, directing, almost bad everything. JEJ had some nice moments, and the death of Conan’s mom is poetry. Good score. But eeesh. Everything else.

      • Well, I wasn’t actually “hoping” for a new Milius movie, but rather hoping that if he was trying something, it would spur the current filmmakers to do something. However, now that I read your update, I’m a little more relaxed.

        As to Milius’ effort, it is what it is. You either love it or hate it, it seems. 🙂 Granted that there were so many mistakes made from day one. But in the end, we got a decent (IMHO great) S&S film.

        And what about Ron Cobb’s designs? 🙂

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