Wednesday, June 15, 2016

By the Gods!

Queen Taramis (Sarah Douglas) spins a web of deceit around Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in CONAN THE DESTROYER

The best thing about this (then) neo-PEPLUM was Sarah. Unfortunately, her role was limited but acted around everyone in this very campy high budget B-movie. As for Arnold, when they made the first film, director John Milius said he didn't want to make another Steve Reeves film and they were very conscious about showing Arnold's sculptured physique. But for the second film, they abandoned all pretense, and Arnold hardly wore any clothes throughout the film.


Richard Svensson said...

I read an interview with Arnold where he discussed his physique in the two films. In "Conan the Barbarian" they used real, extremely heavy swords and axes (the exception being Valeria's aluminum sword), and Milius wanted all the big guys to be able to perform as much of the action as possible themselves. Arnold then tuned his body to be the lean athletic build seen in the first film. When "Destroyer" came around, that director, Richard Fleischer, went for a more comic book-y look, and asked Arnold to pump up. That was apparently not the kind of body allowing for practical physical agility, but it looked good, and in many scenes fiberglass swords were used, not requiring much technique to get the momentum of a sword fight going.

Scott Ochiltree said...

Richard: Thanks for your most interesting information.

Richard Svensson said...

My pleasure, Scott!
If you look at the sword fighting styles of Conan in the two movies they're very different. In "Barbarian" Arnie wields his sword like a farm implement, making very economical movements with it. That sword, "The Atlantean", weighed 8,5 Ibs according to Jody Samson, the smith who made it. That is an incredible difference from an ordinary medieval longsword which usually weighs in at around 2,5 Ibs. The father's sword, later in the film used by Rexxor, weighed 6,5 Ibs. I don't know if Arnie used the actual 8,5 Ibs steel sword in the scenes where he's training by the sea after being resurrected by the wizard, but if it is, it's certainly very impressive the way he swings that thing around his body. At any rate, to be able to handle that weapon, as well as rigorous running, climbing and horse riding, Arnie had to be in a top athletic condition to pull it all off, not just being big and bulky.

Apparently, the "Destroyer" sword, which has a longer grip, also weighs in at around 8 Ibs. That was used in close-ups and non-fighting scenes. In the actual fight scenes they used fiberglass casts created from the "hero" sword, and as soon the blade got too visibly nicked, it was replaced with a new copy. Arnies fighting style in "Destroyer" is completely different from the first film, with very conventional sword fighting, featuring quick blade to blade contact. The same goes for "Red Sonja", where all swords were also fiberglass.
Casts of both the "Red Sonja" and "Destroyer" swords were used in the Italian Ator film "Iron Warrior", and I believe they didn't have that many of them, using the same sword throughout an entire fight scene and the blades of the swords getting progressively worse and saw-like.

And yes, I am a sword nerd :)