I'm going to start off by discussing, you guessed it, Conan2011, but since it would be quite a waste of my time to rewrite a bunch of stuff I already wrote, I'm going to move some of my previous remarks, both here and on "The Blog that Time Forgot", onto this thread.
In my opinion, Conan2011 is the first film based on a REH franchise that manages to get the character right. Here we have a Conan with a sinister countenance, who is ethnically "Celtic", who is behaves like he is supremely confident in his own abilities, who is openly contemptuous of soft and weak civilized folk, who doesn't act like a buffoon when he drinks, who's fast and agile like a panther, who doesn't pray to Crom and doesn't believe in Valhalla, who exhibits an unorthodox fighting style, who kills Picts and sails with pirates, who's able to enunciate, who would rather die than submit to slavery, who would never grovel before his enemies, who honed his physique and his fighting skills naturally, who was present at the battle of Venarium and climbed the Elephant Tower while his clone in a alternate universe was pushing a wheel around, who inhabits a world where the difference between "barbaric" and "civilized" cultures is clearly defined (as opposed to a proto Dark Ages Milieu where every culture is perpetually stuck somewhere in between), who can do things like steal a priest's robe in order to infiltrate the bad guy's lair and not get caught, who doesn't get all doe-eyed every time a woman shows some interest in him...
Taranaich: Conan's "no man should live in chains" mantra strongly suggests that Conan's anti-slavery. So why does he insist on not only calling Tamara his property, but treating her like his property? He even ties her up and gags her. Maybe he's just taking it literally, implying that no men should live in chains, but women were perfectly fine: after all, he did get Lucius killed through proxies, saying that "I wouldn't kill you".
The problem with the Zingaran Slave Colony scene, from my perspective, is the line "no man should live in chains", as it gives one the impression that Conan is some sort of altruist who is out to liberate slaves. But without that line, the scene works just fine for me, as I have no problem with the notion of Conan and his pirate buddies attacking a slave colony IN ORDER TO STEAL FROM THEM, telling the male slaves to take a hike (as opposed to taking responsibility for them), and giving the hot female slaves the OPTION of sailing with them if they choose to. I don't recall any of the women being forced onto the ship at sword point. I realize that you described this scene as "appalling", and you feel that it's completely out of character, as is his treatment of Tamara, but this is one of the points that I most strongly disagree with you, and I think there's plenty of precedent to be found in the REH stories. In Xuthal of the Dusk, Conan "appropriated" Natala and she "had nothing to say in the matter". At the end of "The Devil in Iron", Octavia clearly and unambiguously says "NO!", and Conan responds by just grabbing her and making out with her until she gives in, even though she was clearly fighting back (in our modern age such behavior would likely get you slapped with a sexual assault charge, but we, the readers, are supposed to be okay with it because we're supposed to take from it that Octavia was really into him and was just playing hard to get, but I digress). Finally, in People of the Black Circle, Conan had every intention of keeping Yasmina "as his woman", against her will, and telling her that she had "no choice in the matter" before circumstances intervened. By my own moral standards, I don't agree with any such behavior, but I'm perfectly okay with Conan exhibiting this kind of behavior because that's part of his character, nor do I confuse Conan's attitude on the opposite sex with that of his creator, whose own attitudes, btw, seemed to evolve and mellow after dating Novalyne Price. The problem that I have with this is what I perceive as cherry picking the original source material to claim that this is out of character. As for the sex slaves in the Zingaran slave colony, REH described many slave women who served as leading ladies in Conan adventures. More often than not, REH focused on how unbelievably hot they were more so than how their predicament in life had beaten them down. I seriously doubt that sex slaves who suddenly found themselves free would have many options open to them than to become "bar wenches", but IMO the blame would have to go more on the harsh realities of the civilized world rather than on the actions of a few pirates.
...and since I'm on the subject of the film's characterization, Al, I might as well address some other comments you made over on conanthemovieblog regarding Conan's interrogation of Lucius, which you found to be dishonorable and out of character. Crossplain Pilgrim agreed with you, adding "He (Conan) would certainly never set the poor sap up with an ugly death at any hands but his own." Well Pilgrim, my copy of "Maneaters of Zamboula" disagrees with you, but I digress. As you can probably surmise already, Al, I disagree with you that such behavior is out of character for Conan, and I can cite instances from the original REH stories that in my opinion are far more dishonorable. But before that, I would just point out that Lucius was an active participant in the slaughter of Conan's village, and one of Zym's top lieutenants. There was no possible way that Conan was going to let him walk out of that prison alive, no matter what he tried to say or do to get himself out of it. Likely, Lucius behavior in the prison is one of the reasons Conan let the mob have him rather than kill him personally. Instead of facing his death like a man, he turned into a sniveling RAT in order to save his own skin, exhibiting the worst sort of "civilized" behavior that a barbarian such as Conan would react to with utter contempt. As for Conan's duplicity in his promise "not to kill you", I found his behavior far less amoral than in Pool of the Black One. No, Conan doesn't explicitly say "I promise not to kill you and steal your ship and your woman" to Zaporavo when he agreed to take him on board, but I think there was an implicit understanding as such, just as there is in all employer/employee relationships. [Additionally, Conan did not feel particularly honor-bound to the Pirate code, which required him to first prove his worthiness in battle and then to challenge Zaporavo openly. No, he killed Zaporavo when no one was around. So here we have a case of Conan acting selfishly and dishonorably not just by an average person's standards, but by a pirate's standards as well. Should I point out that Zaporavo did nothing to Conan to deserve this (unlike Lucius)? In Vale of Lost Women, Conan behaves even worse, openly dishonoring a truce that he agreed to only hours before, his justification being that Bajujh would do "the same to him if he had the chance", and that "truces are made to be broken". Is there any doubt in your mind that Lucius would have had the entire Argossean Army after Conan had he let him live?
...and while I'm on the subject, I'd like to take a brief moment to address the whole "torture porn" remarks made by both Leo Grin and Crossplain Pilgrim, which I regard as REH cherry picking at its worst. Comments like that make me wonder whether they've actually ever seen a real torture porn film, and if such remarks were made by anyone else I’d strongly question whether they've ever read REH for that matter. I've seen my share of "Hostels" and other films of the genre, and nothing in Conan2011 is even remotely close to what's out there. And it's not as if REH was shy about adding a few ACTUAL torture scenes in his stories (and by ACTUAL, I mean women getting tied down and beaten with a whip, as opposed a guy getting a finger stuck up his nose hole and pissing on the floor). As for graphic violence, Conan2011 wasn't even on par with Spartacus (or most other premium cable fare, for that matter), and virtually nothing I've read or watched is as graphically violent or disturbing as the opening scene of "Lion of Tiberius" (which, coincidentally, Conan82 is far more similar to thematically than any of REH's Conan stories).
Edited by amsterdamaged, 06 November 2011 - 08:24 PM.