23 June 2013

Basil Poledouris - Conan The Barbarian

"To CRUSH your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!"

And thus, a legend is born. Don't worry, the blog hasn't changed direction and gone into movie reviews, but I'm reviewing the soundtrack to the 1982 'Sword & Sorcery' hit, Conan The Barbarian. Commonly regarded as Arnold Schwarzenegger's first smash hit, it tells the story of a young boy (Conan, obviously) who watched his family and village get wiped out by a group of marauding warriors lead by Thulsa Doom (played brilliantly by James Earl Jones), he is taken into captivity and after a while of learning to fight and pitfighting, he is set free and begins his journey towards revenge...IMO, it's an awesome movie but you've probably seen it before. If not, then see it immediately but avoid the sequel and the remake. They're not very good Anyhow, onto the music...

The project to score the movie was undertaken by Greek-American composer Basil Poledouris who'd already had experience scoring movies with Extreme Close-Up, Big Wednesday and, erm, Blue Lagoon. He would later go on to do the music for Robocop, Iron Eagle, The Hunt For Red October and Starship Troopers, amongst others. He was enlisted before principal shooting had begun and was told to come up with stuff based on the storyboards and to make alterations once the scenes were completed. This method proved successful as it certainly matched the tone of the movie and it also proved strong enough to be able to be listened to without having to watch the movie itself, if that makes sense. The music can be both brutal and savage as well as gentle and playful. The music that plays when Conan's village was attacked, is said to have been written when the movie finished production. The story goes that the director (John Milius, who also did Red Dawn) wanted something that sounded like 'O Fortuna' (AKA the music off the Old Spice commercials) with it's stirring chorus and hard, driving music but upon learning that (ok I guess, but could've been better) Excalibur had used it, decided to ask Poledouris for something original. You can tell that this music influenced the one they went with as it sounds apocalyptic.

All in all, it's a good soundtrack. I'm not usually wild about classical music but if you're into this stuff then I guess you cannot go wrong. It's also good to hear a movie soundtrack that actually relates to the film as these days - and for a long, long time now - movie soundtracks are usually compilations of songs now that have little or no relation to the movie itself. And that is sad.

7/10 - This is good and well worth a check.

Chris J.

This album is available on iTunes.

You can buy this album on Amazon.
This album is not available on Spotify. The score for the remake is though...

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