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 Oliver Stone on CONAN (Film Comment, 1987)

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MightyMcT
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PostSubject: Oliver Stone on CONAN (Film Comment, 1987)   Mon 11 Feb - 23:04

Source: Interview by Pat McGilligan (Film Comment, January/February 1987)

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- You have worked with some pretty disparate directors. Or maybe I should say, directors who have little in common other than personal flamboyance and operatic filmmaking styles: Alan Parker, John Milius, Brian De Palma, Michael Cimino, Hal Ashby. Let's start with Milius and CONAN.

- It was very dfficult and complicated to get rights to the [Robert E.] Howard Conan books. [Producer] Eddie Pressman spent a fortune in legal fees, and then I couldn't direct because I had no clout. I begged Ridley Scott to do it. I went down on my knees to him. This was off THE DUELLISTS, we hadn't even seen ALIEN yet. He sais yes and then he said no. It broke our hearts. Instead, he did BLADE RUNNER.

Because we were depressed by Ridley's turndown, we turned it ove to John and Dino [De Laurentiis, as producer]. Although I like John - I think he's a great raconteur and a John Wayne figure - ultimately he didn't want to collaborate with me. He rewrote the end and my criticisms were ignored - to the detriment of the picture, I think. He put that whole snake cult in, which I didn't like at all, and which cheapens the story. A snake cult - who cares?

My original draft was a $40 million movie. It dealt with the takeover of the planet and the forces of life being threatened by the forces of darkness. The mutant armies were taking over, and Conan was the lonely pagan - as opposed to Christian - hero; he was Roland at the pass, he was Tarzan, he was a mythic figure. I loved that he had been enslaved and suffered, and that he rose. What was great about the Howard books - actually, thirteen books - was Conan's progression from a peasant to a king. At the end of the movie, in my draft, he is the king, and it means something that he came from these roots. Then he foregoes the kingdom and tells the princess, "I can't be a king this way, as your husband. I can't inherit the throne. I will earn my throne." Then he went riding off to the second adventure, which was supposed to be the follow-up sequel. If they'd done it my way, they would have had a Bond-type series, 12-13 pictures, which is what I had wanted to do.

- How did Milius' sensibility clash with yours? De Palma seems apolitical if not intellectually vapid, but Milius seems to revel in being a righ-winger, while Cimino has been accused of being one.

- Let's face it. John has a certain deafness. He doesn't listen. It was the least successful collaboration I ever had. Whereas, with Cimino, he listened very well. He listens to you. John doesn't. He has a stone wall about him and I guess, being the writer with lesser credits at that point in time, he didn't brook any of my input.

- Did his deafness have any political connotations? Or was he merely attempting to "masculinize" the material?

- I think he masculinized it and went more with his friends - more with the bodybuidling aspect of Arnold [Schwarzenegger]. I think Arnold has a more romantic side. John populated the movie with surfers and bodybuilders. And the look - he made it look like a Spanish Western. I know it was shot in Spain because it was cheaper there, but I wanted to shoot it in Germany or Russia - and to get the whole Russian army, thousands of people in the green, fertile fields of Russia. The picture should have been green; John made it rocky desert yellow, more a [Sergio] Leone Western. It was all cheap - they cut back on the extras, the fights were done on the cheap, the rocks looked like cardboard boulders.

There was no collaboration essentially. I wrote my stuff and I never really got a second pass. John rewrote, I gave notes, he tore up the notes and then we never talked about the movie again.

- Were you at all sympatico?

- Not at all. We used to have tremendous fights. The Panama canal deal was going down then, and I was saying it's about time we gave it back; and he was taking the John Wayne point of view that this was one of the most traitorous acts in history. But we had a wonderful time - he showed me his gun collection - he's a terrific skeet shooter. I'm quite the opposite. I did all my shooting in Vietnam and I have never fired a weapon since.

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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Stone on CONAN (Film Comment, 1987)   Mon 11 Feb - 23:26

Quelle langue de vipère ce Stone quand même! Mr. Green

EDIT: oops, I didn't see I was in the english board, sorry! drunken

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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Stone on CONAN (Film Comment, 1987)   Tue 12 Feb - 2:52

HAHAHA thanks for the article!

Sounds like Stone was very much disgruntled over the loss of his CONAN, which is very much understandable. I do agree that the movie was too much desert wastelandish, and couldve used more green areas..it wouldve also helped with the different nation transitions too. CTD also used a lotve dry and desert areas too, with well Mexico being used because it was even a lot more cheaper to make it there.

Interesting thing, was that Milius also claimed he wanted to film in Russia or China and that Dino was good friends with the Russians,lol.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Stone on CONAN (Film Comment, 1987)   Fri 15 Feb - 2:36

scratch Schwarzenegger has a more "romantic" side?

Razz Lol, that line made me really laugh.



ROMANTICISM:

It was partly a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature.

-the "Age of Enlightenment" was an optimistic era opposed to the feeling of sadness that came after the realization of the tragedy of the human existence. Romanticism accepted that tragedy of the life, didn't hide it with optimistic lies-.

The movement stressed strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror, and the awe experienced in confronting the sublimity in untamed nature.

Romantic art:




Art by Frazetta who inspired directly the movie by Milius:





If the movie of Milius is not essentially Romantic -in the 19th century sense- it's nothing. Nietzsche also was heavily influenced by romanticism, and he developed the ideas of Schopenhauer. Lately he criticized the movement, but his roots came from it. All the exalted passionate feelings he writte about, and that "YES" to life is an evolutioned form of romanticism.





So, what the fuck is he talking about when he says "Schwarzenegger is more romantic than that"? He wants him to make movies with Julia Roberts or what? Mr. Green

I respect this old man for movies like Platoon but I also dislike some other of his works. Also I don't agree about the landscapes in the movie. Maybe cuz it's my country and that related me very close to that prehistoric world since the first time I watched it being a kid. But I disliked very much the landscapes in "The Destroyer", that really looked cheap and rock-plastic.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Stone on CONAN (Film Comment, 1987)   Fri 15 Feb - 4:47

Well his line about the snake cult was very lame too..with his love for Alexander and Greek history, I wouldve guessed him more appreciative over the movie's more authentic ancient world spirit and various homages to historical, mythological and legendary figures and too of course Howard's Kull/Conan(which is within itself one big homage/copy of those things as well).

* One thing which bothered me was the location of the Wheel of Pain, didnt appear anything like Scandinavia or such..more like Afghanistan--which may of well been Milius idea. He also chose those areas in Spain which superficially resembled somewhat parts of Russia..which again was his point.

One major thing which CONAN suffered from, was an inferiority complex and possibly Milius' own inexperience or reluctance with Special Effects and fantasy..the movie couldve used a lot more effects which were included in the script. The movie had the budget for it, but in the end, it seems they didnt want it to appear like a ripoff of Raiders of the Lost Ark or Clash of the Titans/Sinbad and the many cuts the movie went through.. and Milius' own fickleness with the storyline narrative and level of violence did take a toll.

The unkown actors werent too bad, though I think a better more charismatic and physically active Thulsa Doom wouldve been appropriate.

However the movie turned out great and still lasts the test of time and is widely imitated, so its effects is quite strong no what any detractor says. I cannot see how Stone's script couldve been no more than two movies, or had some kinda Ben-Hur-like intermission in the middle of the show. It wasnt a bad read, but was somewhat disjointed and lacked the more personal feel, focus and cohesion which was found in Milius' version(s).


Stone tried fitting too much into one script, as he wanted the overly drawn out fantasy of a Tolkien book, comic book style violence along also thrown intertwined with high dosages of superman, science fiction, debauchery, and bestiality.

The end battle with Conan fighting against mutants, really might as well of been taken directly from the Iliad, with the hero being essentially a demi-god warrior of divine inspiration with superman strengths and ability cutting through constant waves of warriors and various creatures & automatons ect. Then the end boss being the typical mythological monster which Hercules wouldve slain.

I like Thulsa Doom more in the Stone script I have to admit(was more like Skeletor from the Masters of the Universe movie), as I also liked Taramis and the beast man Brak. Valeria was stronger in this story as was the Princess. Aside from the insane duel sex /fight scene with the Wolf-Witch, I liked how she was more connected to Set and the living wind effects outside her hut sounded like a good piece of eeriness. However at times, the movie really couldve been Conan meets the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness and been too wacky,lol.

Bottom line fact is that, sadly neither of them ever where able to completely tell their stories. The two of them should collaborate on a new movie. rambo mongol

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Stone's version of CONAN wouldve had him pinned against armies of Gamorrean Guards..I mean Pig mutants,lol.

Probably wouldve looked like this:


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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Stone on CONAN (Film Comment, 1987)   Sat 15 Mar - 12:16

Thanks a lot for sharing this !

Where the whole article can be found ?

I'd like to seen whaat Stone say about Cimino and Parker, and especially about De Palma.
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Stone on CONAN (Film Comment, 1987)   Sat 15 Mar - 15:05

You'll find the rest of the interview on Google Books, right there:

http://books.google.fr/books?id=eMAHzCJxzbEC&pg=PA20&lpg=PA18&output=html&sig=oC0r3Ufhl8GMuBFnETJ8MIvz500

(the De Palma stuff actually starts from page 22) Wink

*

Here's another excerpt from the same book (which is mainly a collection of various Oliver Stone interviews reprinted from magazines), where Stone talks about Conan:

"I'd always been a fan of [Barry Windsor Smith]. I think I fell in love with his version of Conan before I had even read the Howard books. He did more for that comic than anyone, and I still think it's a shame they let John Buscema in; his art in that book has been terrible. (...) When I was asked to write the [Conan movie] script I was given a pretty free hand. Because the budget had not yet been finally determined. I delivered a script that would have taken perhaps $50 million to make. When John Milius was assigned as director, the budget had come down to about $15 million. So he had to rewrite the script to accomodate that budget, taking out much of the sorcery. John Milius is a friend of mine, and I have a lot of respect for his ability; I expect he'll make quite a good picture."

- From Fangoria #12 (December 1981)

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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Stone on CONAN (Film Comment, 1987)   Sat 15 Mar - 23:47

I actually like John Buscema's art;

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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Stone on CONAN (Film Comment, 1987)   Sun 16 Mar - 10:34

Yeah, same here. Barry Smith's Conan is a little bit too "artsy fancy" for my taste! Mr. Green

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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Stone on CONAN (Film Comment, 1987)   Sun 16 Mar - 11:45

MightyMcT wrote:
You'll find the rest of the interview on Google Books, right there:

http://books.google.fr/books?id=eMAHzCJxzbEC&pg=PA20&lpg=PA18&output=html&sig=oC0r3Ufhl8GMuBFnETJ8MIvz500

(the De Palma stuff actually starts from page 22) Wink

Thanks very much !
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver Stone on CONAN (Film Comment, 1987)   Thu 20 Mar - 21:30

I like Barry Smith as a illustrator, much more than as a comic book artist. As Conan artist I prefer buscema, the main probem with Buscema is he allways had the same characters, the same faces and the same attitudes. If you have watched 5 or 6 Buscema comic books, looks like you've seen all...

I prefer his Conan and his dark medieval -even prehistoric- look of the world. Fits better with the Milius' movie.
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