Monday, December 01, 2008

Conan and the allegation of remakes

Let's be clear, Batman Begins is not a remake of Batman which is not a remake of Batman the Movie which is then not a remake of The Batman, right? And while Tarzan may, by technicality, be a remake of Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, Tarzan, the Ape Man, Tarzan, the Ape Man or Tarzan the Ape Man, most of us don't spend a lot of time concerning ourselves over the "remake" status.

So, I find myself strangely puzzled when I'm reading a Facebook discussion beginning with Jovanka Vuckovic celebrating her own enjoyment of Conan the Barbarian and then find a comment by "Riot Report" that says "all the rumors of the remake has me going crazy".

Well, "Riot Report", I think we can set your mind at ease. It's as likely that whatever Conan movie gets made - and I'm hardly overly optimistic - it seems unbelievably unlikely to me that the Oliver Stone/John Milius storyline will be the basis for it, so set your mind at ease. Whatever this movie turns out to be, for better or worse, a "remake" will not be one of those things.

Look, Conan only exists in one place really, between the pages of The Coming of Conan, The Bloody Crown of Conan and The Conquering Sword of Conan (or other volumes containing the same material). This is the same as with the Tarzan character and the novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs or Sherlock Holmes and the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle.

That's not to say there's no value in the other works. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer (or even the movie The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Herbert Ross), for example, is a lot of fun. Tarzan was the hero of many delightful adventure movies starring Johnny Weissmuller (among others) as well as a long-running strip by the great Hal Foster.

Frankly, I don't know how I would have survived childhood without The Savage Sword of Conan or Milius's Conan the Barbarian, which, to age myself greatly, came out when I was ten years old. I don't know how many of you saw Conan the Barbarian for the first time in a crowded first-night theater at ten years old, but I'll have to tell you, it's pretty goddamn cool. And all of my incredible Robert E. Howard praising love of the original stories, you can't take that out of me. That movie could define cool in my world.

But I'm utterly mystified by the notion that Conan the Cimmerian should somehow be locked down as any one of these visions. That someone - yes, even an incompetent or lame someone - shouldn't ever touch the character on film because other people dug Milius's movie is as silly to me as saying no one should make more Conan comics because they dug the Roy Thomas/Barry Windsor-Smith stuff. Or no one should paint him because they dig the classic Frank Frazetta covers.

None of it registers in my head, not intellectually and not emotionally. And I think and feel on the subject of Conan more than any person ought to.

So, let it go. It's a character. It belongs to the ages, not to one solitary work of cinema.


Jovanka Vuckovic said...

For all our sakes, I pray you're right....

Neil Sarver said...

Gosh! I guess I need to follow-up on this...


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