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'Thinkers and Watchers'
Crackpot Mailbox: Irish Snake Charmer Has a Heroic Podcast Find
Hi I am the guy messaged you wondering if you were French, thanks for the reply by the way, I never replied back because couldnt think of anything to say. I like your podcast you do with the Lynn Lockhart youtube channel. It's very good. I am glad to hear you have moved out of Baltimore. I know you have respect for the warrior but we need you as a thinker at this point, we need thinkers and watchers. This podcast gets into the transformation of the villain in Conan The Barbarian from warrior into priest. Just wanted to let you know a big fan of your podcast and you have shared a lot of ideas I have not heard elsewhere.
God bless
-Irish Snake Charmer
Sir, I very much enjoyed this podcast. The speakers are dead wrong about the movie having the best of Conan and Kull in it, as almost no story elements from Howard make it into this film. However, this is still a great hero movie and reflects the genius of John Milus who was also involved in Jeremiah Johnson and Red Dawn as a driving element of the creative force, and the analysis in the podcast of those elements is very well done. Movie making is such a divergent art from writing that rating a movie only on its faithfulness to a source book is not reasonable. For one thing, the movie audience will always be vast and unlettered and ignorant compared to a readership.
Howard's Conan was Odysseus updated with elements of hard men Howard knew or knew of from family, most notably Nathan Bedford Forest, who was probably the last classical Aryan hero—meaning a direct actionist. This kind of hero had been so sullied and muddied by posing goofs like John Wayne and Gary Cooper and society had become so cynical, Milus correctly determined that he needed a hero cutout out of the mind of Nietzsche, whose iconic quote begins the movie and whose work places the hero as a captive of modernity, which would place that hero in empathetic reach of those captives viewing the movie.
Milus then went on to build a menacing world rarely equaled in film and inserted historical elements such as the scene where the Khan asks his men what is good in life and only Conan answers correctly. The one key story element from Howard that Milus kept was Conan being crucified and fighting on the cross, a heinously heathen image that strikes against the very basis of modern society, which is heroism in sacrifice rather than in triumph. One note that reflects that atheism has only two sources and that is Judaism and Christianity, is the revulsion this image brought from atheistic reviewers, one of whom referred to the movie as "Star Wars by a psychopath." Neither Milus's hero or his villain espouse Judeo-Christian values, with both good and evil in this movie rejecting modernity and its Abrahamic moral foundation.
The most inauthentic, in terms of Howard, element of the tale was Conan as a slave, something anathema to the character, but deeply resonant with Conan readers, who read Howard and feel the gravity of the invisible chains that enslave us and quash the possibility of outward heroics on our part. Milus used this element as a bridge between a hero type that shares so few modern sensibilities with the viewer and that viewer stranded in sissy sterility at the end of masculine time.
Milus crafted Conan as an internal hero and achieved deep viewer empathy for his interpretation of Conan. Where he shined was in the very authentic depiction of the Howard sorcerer, who was ever once a man, ascendant to the demi-god status of sorcerer and primarily a creature of will. The sorcerer is named after the Kull villain Thulsa Doom but patterned on the sorcerer who was the villain in People of the Black Circle, perhaps the best sorcerer in fiction. Milus and Howard meshed in their agreement on the villain as properly a transformative rather than static character. The historical element Milus put in to the sorcery came from the Louis L'Amour novel The Walking Drum, in which the Grandfather of Assassins at Alamut beckons a maiden to dive to her death and she does so at his mere suggestion. This attention to mesmerism, an element of popular metaphysics in the time of Nietzsche, which Howard employed in his fiction, was Milus' master stroke.
I am thrilled that a King Conan movie might be in the works as The Phoenix on the Sword and the Scarlet Citadel could be put together with elements of The Hour of the Dragon to make an authentic Howard adaptation.
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Add Comment
ShepOctober 26, 2018 10:49 PM UTC

I'm sure his is old news to you, but Milus was also heavily involved with the early days of the UFC.
responds:October 27, 2018 2:45 PM UTC

I didn't know that. Thanks.