I discovered today that there is a re-make of Conan the Barbarian that will be released this summer.  This is just the latest in a long line of movies that are being remade–and for which I have no idea why anyone thought revisiting them would be a good idea.

From a NYTimes review of the original:  ‘‘Conan the Barbarian” is an extremely long, frequently incoherent, ineptly staged adventure-fantasy set in a prehistoric past.” Yep, pretty much.

As Sword and Sandal movies go, Conan is actually kind of fun in a campy way.  The musical version of Conan uses the famous “lamentation of the women” phrase as a song refrain, and is made of win.  But–did this movie really need to be remade into anything other than a fun 3-minute YouTube parody?

I will admit that casting yummy Jason Momoa in the role of Conan–since the original author of the book was un-subtle about his whites-as-supreme-race ideas–was a good move.  An example of Howard’s tedious prose:

“The dark-skinned peoples fade and even the demons of antiquity gasp their last, but over all stands the Aryan barbarian, white-skinned, cold-eyed, dominant, the supreme fighting man of the earth.”
Robert E. Howard (“Wings in the Night”), 1932

Knowing that casting decision may be making Mr. Howard spin in his grave isn’t enough to make me think a 3-D version of this old cheeseball is a good idea, though.

So, what do you think about movie remakes? Good Idea, or Hollywood being lazy? What movie do you most fear will be remade, or would you like to see remade?

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55 Comments

  1. Avatar of rbmc3
    May 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm —

    I first watched both of the Conan movies (and Red Sonia) when I was 12. As one would expect I still love those movies even though I know as a 32 year old man that they were, and are actually horrible. As such I’ll probably go see this one, and I’ll probably still love it.

    I wasn’t aware of Howard’s bigotry. That revelation is a little unsettling. But as you said Bug, knowing that a mixed-race actor is going to play the part of “the Aryan barbarian, white-skinned, cold-eyed, dominant, the supreme fighting man of the earth.” makes me even more happy about it.

    • Avatar of taranaich
      May 9, 2011 at 12:14 pm —

      Why? Would you be as happy about Hollywood casting Danny Trejo as Shaft? Or Jet Li as T’Challa?

      Besides, people seem to be missing the point that Momoa is a quarter Irish, which is pretty much exactly right for Conan.

      As an aside, the “Aryan barbarian” described there doesn’t describe Conan, but describes a completely hypothetical vision of Solomon Kane’s. I note that Howard wrote a story called “The Spirit of Tom Molyneaux,” where an unlovely Senegalese boxer named Mankiller Gomez became world champion, and white people worldwide were desperate for an Aryan Avenger to retake the title. The worldwide search for a “Great White Hope” ended with a figurative pile of KOd white dudes. Someone did beat him in the end, though: Ace Jessel, the only of Howard’s boxing characters to be world champion, and one of the few who’s truly a nice guy without a shade of selfishness or antiheroic tendencies. Ace Jessel was black.

      “Wings in the Night” showed the theory of the indomitable Aryan Barbarian. “The Spirit of Tom Molyneaux” showed the reality.

  2. Avatar of mikemiello
    May 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm —

    I think that Hollywood is looking for exactly the kind of movie as Conan that are exciting and campy so that they can try to redo them and capture the same excitement and make them less silly.

    Sometimes this is pretty successful (Re: Batman Christian Bale>Michael Keaton).

    It makes me wonder though if there are really creative stories out there that don’t break into the general consciousness because we keep remaking the old ones.

    To some extent this is not a new phenomenon. I just watched Thor fight Loki last night. And while that is not a re-make of another movie, those two have been going at it since at least the 11th century.

  3. Avatar of Anthony
    May 8, 2011 at 4:32 pm —

    I would love to see an updated version of The Last Starfighter. I’ve seen that film at least 50 times, and it has yet to get old for me.
    But I don’t think I’d want to see a remake or a sequel, just shoot the same script with today’s tech ;)

  4. Avatar of MathMike
    May 8, 2011 at 4:41 pm —

    I fear this Conan may be as bad as the remake of Clash of the Titans. The only remake I can think of off the top of my head that was better than the original would be Little Shop of Horrors.

  5. Avatar of rbmc3
    May 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm —

    Anthony is a man after my own heart. I loved The Last Starfighter! Every time I think about it I’m overcome with boyish glee at the prospects of updated graphics. And perhaps the prospects of a video game that doesn’t suffer the same fate as every other movie tie in game.

  6. Avatar of frenchy
    May 8, 2011 at 6:43 pm —

    Conan CANNOT be remade,as it is perfect…..who can forget such memorable scenes as Conan flinging the head of Thulsa Doom down the steps at the end? It’s Oscar GOLD….In fact,I might just host an all weekend 24 hour Schwarzenegger marathon next weekend, starting with such gems as Red Heat and Commando

  7. Avatar of vbalbert
    May 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm —

    I don’t mind remakes if they can use the source material in a way that can be original. This can be difficult, but look at what J.J. Abrams did with Star Trek. It can be done, but it requires finesse and can’t step on the originals that have become part of pop culture. For example remaking Plan 9 From Outer Space is a mistake. It has too much cultural inertia behind it. On the other hand, remaking The Thing worked out pretty well for John Carpenter. I think the key thing here is how the second version treated the original material. If you boil the plot down to its barest skeleton you can then start rebuilding it and taking it in new directions. It seems that the writer, director and producer of Conan were a tad inept in this.

  8. Avatar of Filias Cupio
    May 8, 2011 at 7:57 pm —

    The Battlestar Galactica TV show is my prime example of a silk-purse-out-of-a-pig’s-ear remake. “The Thing” was another good remake. And, um, and ….. There’s probably others out there, but I can’t bring them to mind.

    Another endless series of barbarian novels were the “Gor” books. I never quite gave in to the temptation to get one of them cheap second hand so I could see if they really were as terrible as reputed. Gor books are (I understand) misogynist instead of racist. I also wonder whether one could make a party game out of trying to dramatically read a random page, and not laughing. (I’ve heard the early ones were OK.)

    • Avatar of Imrryr
      May 9, 2011 at 8:45 am —

      Fortunately, the film version of “Outlaw of Gor” never had anywhere near the same level of appeal that the Conan film had, so hopefully we’ll all be spared any movies based off of John Norman’s books. I’ve never read them either (I think I would die of embarrassment if I walked up to the counter of my local bookstore with a John Norman book in my hand), but from the snippets I have read, his later books read like something you’d expect a serial killer who preys exclusively on women would write. Imagine someone who treats a woman like a horse that needs to be broken in and you get the idea of what to expect.

      Personally, I’d love to finally see a film version of “Elric of Melnibone”, but I don’t think that will happen any time soon.

      • Avatar of scribe999
        May 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm —

        I want to see Fahfrd & The Gray Mouser adaptation with the same level of hope.

    • Avatar of NoAstronomer
      May 9, 2011 at 10:58 am —

      Plus the totally misogynistic attitude of the Gor novels pretty much dooms them to remain on the bookshelves. Not that that is a bad thing.

      On the other hand suppose you ‘re-imagined’ the Gor series with a female protagonist …

      Mike.

  9. Avatar of DiscordianStooge
    May 8, 2011 at 8:16 pm —

    I’d like to see an original Sword and Sorcery franchise, rather than taking one that already exists and remaking it. One could just as easily written a new story about a muscular guy rising to prominence in a strange, magical world who wasn’t called Conan. Maybe name him “Leno the Barbarian” or something.

    Putting the Conan name on it just makes me know I’ve seen it before, so I don’t need to bother.

  10. Avatar of weatherwax
    May 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm —

    The were a couple movies from the sixties I really like but that tend to really drag in the middle. ‘The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming’, and ‘Thirty Seconds over Tokyo.’

    And Maybe ‘Hopscotch’ could be modernized.

  11. Avatar of James Fox
    May 8, 2011 at 10:34 pm —

    As mentioned above BSG is the best TV remake ever. As for movies some remakes work others don’t. I can’t really think of a movie from my youth I’d like to see remade. I would however really like to see Star Wars Episode I, II, and III remade without Mr Lucas being involved.

  12. Avatar of anthroslug
    May 8, 2011 at 10:41 pm —

    A friend of mine once said that he felt the only valid reasons to remake a film was because the film maker realized that they could take the story and do something new and interesting with it, or because the film had become dated in a way that prevented a new audience from appreciating a worthwhile story.

    While I’m not sure about the absoluteness of his view, I do think that he has a good point. The recent Star Trek took an old concept and characters and brought them to life in a new way. Same with Batman Begins/The Dark Knight. I could easily see the Mad Max films being remade in a way that accounted for new technology (the original film, in which the characters were Australian highway patrol officers fighting gangs BEFORE the apocalypse, would be wildly different if it accounted for such modern technologies as cell phones and GPS). However, a remake of an old film or adaptation of an old story simply to do it seems like a bad idea.

    • Avatar of James Fox
      May 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm —

      I forgot about the new Star Trek movie which I really liked. However, wasn’t it a whole new narrative and not a remake?

      • Avatar of Jieming
        May 9, 2011 at 3:12 am —

        I think to, too. Especially since the new movie was less about, you know, going boldly where no man has gone before, but about telling a coming-of-age adventure.
        Great characters, though.

      • Avatar of Anthony
        May 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm —

        that’s what the film industry calls a “reboot” as opposed to a “remake”
         
        I think Yogurt said it best, though:
        “God willing, we’ll all meet again in Spaceballs II: The Search for More Money.”

  13. Avatar of infinitemonkey
    May 8, 2011 at 11:10 pm —

    I abhor remakes on principle. Yes, hollywood is being lazy. They are remaking movies that, in the grand scheme of things, weren’t that awesome. Fright Night, with Anton Yelchin? Really? The only movie I can think of that would seem like a good idea to remake is something like “The Wizard of Oz”, in the original spirit, not the “new takes” that you see time and time again. But, please, stop with the remakes, for the love of Bob.

  14. Avatar of punchdrunk
    May 8, 2011 at 11:56 pm —

    Sometimes remakes serve a purpose, even if the filmmakers don’t have anything new to say. Especially with foreign films.

    However – Hollywood is talking about remaking “Akira” with Keanu Reeves as Kaneda.

    Words fail me.

  15. Avatar of markbisanz
    May 9, 2011 at 12:14 am —

    That post was painful…ouch! The new Conan is not a remake, but rather a completely new story, and neither the original Conan the Barbarian movie or the new one are remotely close to anything Robert E. Howard penned. As for the “whites-as-supreme-race” link, that too is hogwash…read the comments following that “fictional” post for some enlightenment.

    • Avatar of bug_girl
      May 9, 2011 at 6:39 am —

      I sincerely HOPE that they are re-writing the script–it was hilarious with Schwarzenegger’s delivery, but I’m sure that wasn’t the desired reaction.

      It’s still a “remake” in the way that the new StarTrek was a remake–it built upon an existing brand.

      Howard and his friend Lovecraft definitely held views that were racist. Howard grew up in Texas in a time period where the Klan was very active, so it’s not surprising. But…why is it a problem to acknowledge it?

      It’s a reality of a lot of fiction of that time period, and both before and after.
      Some works of Piers Anthony are quite misogynist.

      I think it’s important to call things like that out, and rejoice in the little victories.

      • Avatar of taranaich
        May 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm —

        The 1982 script has absolutely nothing to do with this film. This film has started from scratch: aside from the idea of Conan going on a Quest for Revenge against The Wizard Who Killed His Faddah, there’s nothing from the 1982 film.

        There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the sad fact that Howard couldn’t be some sort of forward-thinking visionary who would further ostracize himself from society by being the only person in the state who didn’t use the word “nigger” in casual conversation. The problem is that this is the stuff that made Howard normal, average, like everyone else: I think it’s much more worthwhile to note the times he rose above the typical thinking of his time and place.

        Case in point: Ace Jessel. I think it’s far more amazing and interesting to note that Howard wrote about a sympathetic, intelligent, considerate, brave and independent black man, than that he wrote a bunch of other black characters that conformed to contemporary stereotypes. Same with N’Longa, Nakari, Saul Stark and others. For that reason, I think his feminist creations like Valeria, Dark Agnes, Zenobia, Zelata, Tarala, Yasmina and the like are much more worth acknowledgement than cringing slave girls like Natala who are dime-a-dozen in pulp stories.

        From that point of view, I’d say it would be a better “little victory” to concentrate on those element that made Howard better, rather than the things that made him a relic of his time and place. Like an Ace Jessel movie. But that’s not going to happen, is it?

      • Avatar of James Fox
        May 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm —

        Don’t you think that when someone is called a racist all the fruits of any other endeavor of said racist is automatically called into question or disparaged by association? I think the excuse making is more about preserving what historical figures have created or produced that we currently enjoy; as well as reducing our own cognitive dissonance. And none of us really want to think we’re the fans of horrible nasty people.

        • Avatar of bug_girl
          May 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm —

          I pretty much assume all the authors I read have faults.
          For example, I loved Garrett Hardin’s work on the Tragedy of the Commons, and some of his ecological writings that promote critical thinking on environmental issues.

          When I found out he was a major right winger and had some really disturbing ideas on “how to solve the African problem”, it was really disappointing.

          But his ideas were still good–I just read carefully, and make sure I don’t swallow everything whole.

          We all have biases. It’s how much effort you put into overcoming them that I judge folks by. Anyone who says they are 100% objective…isn’t being objective :)

      • Avatar of killyosaur
        May 10, 2011 at 7:24 am —

        I figured I’d state that the new Star Trek was more prequel/sequel than remake. A remake assumes no prior films allowing it to redo what has already been done, the new Star Trek could technically work as part of canon as it still falls in that world and has an explanation for why things are occurring differently than they were originally conceived as opposed to just going ahead and making them different. Stating that Star Trek is a remake of the original series is pretty much like claiming that the Chronicles of Narniaor the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film were just remakes of the BBC series, pretty much not true, which may also be the case for the new Conan. Also, in order for something to truly be considered a remake, a significant portion of the original concept really needs to be kept in tact. the new Friday the 13th was a remake, Let Me In was a remake, both maintained a level of similarities to the original source material to be recognizable as a remake, the Star Trek film played more as a continuation (or reboot, but still had connections to the original films and shows) than an attempt to redo what was done prior.

    • Avatar of DiscordianStooge
      May 9, 2011 at 11:02 am —

      If it’s a new story, then they should have just made something new, rather than take a familiar name for it.

  16. Avatar of csrster
    May 9, 2011 at 12:23 am —

    I wish someone would remake The Lord of Rings (again) – this time with a bit of respect for the source material.

    • Avatar of taranaich
      May 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm —

      You’re a commentator after my own heart, csrster.

    • Avatar of killyosaur
      May 10, 2011 at 7:27 am —

      I’m sorry, but I completely disagree, as I have read the series, and felt that what Peter Jackson did with it was what was necessary to turn the original source material into something watchable. Sorry you have an issue with it, I doubt anyone else could have done better, and I really do feel that LOTR was a fantastic series of films.

  17. Avatar of ferulebezel
    May 9, 2011 at 2:33 am —

    The original Conan was great. It’s all about the scheming socially manipulative priest being ultimately defeated by the person who could do real things in the real world. That’s the riddle of steel.

  18. Avatar of Jieming
    May 9, 2011 at 3:17 am —

    It’s kinda unnerving for a fan of pulp literature to see the great writers being racist. Even Lovecraft, who pretty much created modern horror, was a racist and depicted non-white persons and those of a mixed heritage more like animals than human (Lovecraft and Howard were friendy, by the way).

    As for remakes, when in doubt I prefer the predecessor. Hollywood is kind of cowardly by remaking tried-and-true movies, but on the other hand, when they are brave and try to adapt some risky source material (Scott Pilgrim, anyone?) they often get skewered at the box office.

    • Avatar of taranaich
      May 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm —

      It can be very difficult. I can’t tell you how disheartening it was to read “The Vale of Lost Women” for the first time. However, it’s simply something that has to be taken into account, much like how the science of the time period would be hopelessly obsolete by modern times. We just can’t hold literature written in earlier time periods to modern scrutiny: all we can hope is that there’s something within the work that can speak to a modern audience and achieve timelessness.

  19. Avatar of Rei Malebario
    May 9, 2011 at 3:30 am —

    I’d say the racism in Howard’s books was almost certainly of the imperial/colonial “white man’s burden” type common at the time rather than the cross-burning sort.
    And if anything related to casting a non-white as Conan would make him spin in his grave today, it might just as well be the ignorant racism in his own works. Let’s keep in mind that his knowledge of other cultures came mainly from Rudyard Kipling – he of “White Man’s Burden” fame.
    Hergé later regretted his portrayals of africans in Tintin in the Congo, and it’s entirely possible that Howard might have been embarrassed about the absurd racism in his books if he hadn’t committed suicide at the age of 30 and had perhaps lived through WWII.

    • Avatar of BeardofPants
      May 9, 2011 at 5:43 am —

      Yeah, the wiki article linked says as much re: his attitude towards race. It doesn’t sound like some monstrous nazi thing, so much as his being a product of his time. And apparently, he was quite the feminist.

  20. Avatar of banyan
    May 9, 2011 at 9:51 am —
  21. Avatar of taranaich
    May 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm —

    First of all, this isn’t a remake: it’s a new film starring a character created in 1932 by Robert E. Howard. The fact that you actually seem to know this per your discussion of Howard’s “tedious prose” makes it all the more perplexing that you’d call this a remake over, say, a new adaptation. Was Batman Begins a remake of Burton’s Batman? Were the innumerable Three Musketeers films “remakes” of the old silent serials? This isn’t any more a remake than those.

    Secondly, you’ll notice in that very link that Manford’s article was problematic.

    Here’s the straight dope: racism was normal in the 1930s. It was normal for white people to think they were inherently superior to black people. In this regard, Robert E. Howard was normal. Nowadays, racism is considered to be a truly horrible, twisted thing that nobody in their right mind would even entertain: back in the 1930s, it was par for the course.

    You quote that line from “Wings in the Night,” which apparently shows Howard’s virulent racism being unusual for the time. You don’t mention the fact that the plot of that story is about a Christian, Solomon Kane, who’s seeking to protect an African village from the predations of an evil race of vampires, and that when he fails, he is as stricken with grief and anguish as he would if he had failed to protect any of his charges, white, black or otherwise. Apparently, one single paragraph taken out of context trumps this story that treats black people as human beings equally as deserving of help as any of the young white girls in other tales. It gets frustrating, sometimes.

    But I’m basically repeating myself: I’ve already responded to Sanford’s essay, and to his credit, Jason was accomodating and erudite in his responses:

    http://theblogthattimeforgot.blogspot.com/2010/09/oh-wow.html

    I’m just going to repeat some lines from “Double Cross,” a Robert E. Howard story:

    “A prophet is not sure of honor always in his own land. The people in Ace Jessel’s hometown, with their hot, fierce Southern pride and class consciousness, looked upon Ace as more or less of an upstart, a black man who had forgotten his place. They resented his victories over white pugilists and felt as if the fact reflected on them, somehow. This hurt Ace, hurt him cruelly…

    John Taverel, himself a Southerner, was the buffer between Ace and the rest of the world. He knew that underneath that black skin there beat a heart as loyal and honest as any man’s, black or white. Through all the long years of their association, Ace had never addressed nor referred to Taverel as anything except “Misto John” and had maintained toward him a consistent reserve and respect. Honesty without insolence, respect and courtesy without servility – that was Ace Jessel’s attitude toward everyone, and no man, in or out of the ring, could say that the great Negro had ever fought a dirty fight, or had ever given any man a crooked deal.”

    Ace Jessel is the hero of the story, as written by Robert E. Howard.

  22. Avatar of scribe999
    May 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm —

    Y’know, I’d like to see someone take a stab at a new Flash Gordon, really stylized and exciting, but different from the awesome, campy classic that starred Max Von Sydow and Sam Jones…also, not like that awful Syfy where Flash was a mechanic who lived with his mom trying to save his small town from some cosplayers from a parallel universe.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      May 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm —

      I get what you’re saying, but I’m afraid it would be “Clash of the Titans” all over again.

      You can’t create camp or charm. Especially when they were unintentional in the first place.

  23. Avatar of Buzz Parsec
    May 9, 2011 at 12:47 pm —

    So why are they remaking Casablanca again? The version with Hammy the Hamster was definitive.

  24. Avatar of bug_girl
    May 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm —

    I find it very curious that some folks apparently have a great deal invested in explaining why a long-dead author was NOT a racist. Or, at least no more racist than his contemporaries.

    Why is it a problem to point that out? It’s a reality of most of the major western literary works, including Shakespeare.

    • Avatar of scribe999
      May 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm —

      Everybody’s a little bit racist http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RovF1zsDoeM

    • Avatar of James Fox
      May 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm —

      (Oops, I replied above but meant to say it here.)

      Don’t you think that when someone is called a racist all the fruits of any other endeavor of said racist is automatically called into question or disparaged by association? I think the excuse making is more about preserving what historical figures have created or produced that we currently enjoy; as well as reducing our own cognitive dissonance. And none of us really want to think we’re the fans of horrible nasty people.

    • Avatar of beryl
      May 9, 2011 at 6:57 pm —

      If somebody says that a person of Howard’s era is racist, I tend to assume that they mean that the person is notably racist even for that time, not that they mean that the person is racist by modern standards. If they mean the second where only the first is true, it’s reasonable to come to the person’s defense.

      It would be useful if we could use the word “racist” as an unemotional descriptor of a way of thinking, but that’s sort of a lost cause; too many people treat it as a moral judgment on the totality of a person’s worth.

    • Avatar of markfinn
      May 10, 2011 at 2:32 am —

      This is why it’s a big deal: either everyone starts every literary discussion by trucking out an author’s dirty laundry, or no one does. I’ve yet to see a Hemingway conversation start out with, “For a short guy who had a real problem proving himself and who hated his mother and projected that onto all of his fictional women, that Hemingway guy could sure write a good short story.”

      Either Hemingway (and by extension Howard, and Lovecraft, et.al.) was a brilliant writer, worthy of study–either because of, or in spite of, whatever quirks of thinking that found their way into the work–or they were not.

      As you said, just about everyone prior to about 1964 had some strain of bigotry or racism inherent in their thinking. Why, then, point out Howard’s? ESPECIALLY if you are coming from a position of having read only one slice of the author’s work; in this case, Conan, his most commercial and most controversial work. Some 23 stories, out of a total 300. Not even one tenth of the man’s outpout.

      I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad. Nor am I trying to make anyone feel stupid. It’s just that, well, if I don’t like Henry Miller (and I don’t), I will at least allow for other people to make up their minds about Henry Miller and simply say, “he’s not for me,” or “I tried him, and really didn’t like the way he wrote.” Having only read (partially) Tropic of Cancer, I would be remiss to try and characterize all of Henry Miller’s writing based on that one book. Maybe I could–but I wouldn’t. It’s like talking about Hemingway’s short stories and ignoring his novels.

      By all means, have an opinion about it. Just state it as such. If you’ve read Conan (as opposed to reading a passage from Solomon Kane and concluding that it applies to all of Howard’s work) and don’t like the stories, that’s fine. Articulat that. Feel free to cite his freely distributed cultural euphamisms, the mixed messages regarding women, the blood and gore, all of it. But after reading all of the Conan stories, if your takeaway message is that Conan doesn’t like black cannibals, let me gently suggest that you have missed the point of the stories entirely.

      • Avatar of bug_girl
        May 10, 2011 at 6:58 am —

        I gently suggest you have missed my point! First, I did not say “everyone prior to 1964 had some bigotry”. That would be silly, because we ALL have it, right now. It’s not like people suddenly stopped being assholes because of the Civil Rights Act. (if only!) I said that everyone has biases, and it’s good to acknowledge them.

        Not everyone reads books with the same experience you do. I really struggled with Hemmingway, because his attitudes toward women were just dismal. What I lived and saw of myself and my experience were not reflected in his writing. I reviewed A Matter for men and HATED IT because of the incredible misogyny. That wasn’t the way a lot of men read the book.

        I think it is important to call people out when they say or do bad things, and to call it what it is. Sexism. Racism. Asshattery.

        • Avatar of markfinn
          May 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm —

          <>

          No, but you did say that the majority of western literature, including Shakespeare, had these kinds of problems. I gave you the benefit of the doubt that you would think it’s gotten somewhat better in the last 50 years or so.

          <>

          I get that, I really do, and while I can agree with you 100% that he had serious problems with women, I don’t think it takes anything away from the stories and books where those biases are minimal or absent altogether. I don’t believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to history and literature. I am pretty sure you agree with the idea that certain authors are worthy of study, warts and all. At least, that was my impression.

          <>

          Yeah, okay, I *guess* that’s okay, particularly if you are very egalitarian about it and do it for all authors and creators. The main reason why Al and myself are over here is because the guy who was in charge of Howard’s literary legacy for the first forty years always led with Howard’s negatives–and they were perceived negatives, at that, intended to justify this man’s taking over and meddling with Howard’s stories posthumously. And this guy was so thorough with his character assassination that when you go read something about Howard, particularly anything prior to 2000, EVERYone leads with some list of Howard’s perceived faults. And while your intentions were not subversive in the slightest, using an out of context quote from one series to talk about another series entirely is exactly the kind of thing that Howard’s former literary caretaker used to do.

          Hey, we’re not here to cause any trouble. But if you are really curious as to why we feel so passionately about all of this, go check out some Howard for yourself. If you like horror stories, there’s a collection of them available from Del Rey that is wonderful. Optionally, the newest trade that came out collects Sword Women and other historical tales. Howard was a pretty strident feminist, and Sword Women influenced at least one other female author, C.L. Moore, during Howard’s lifetime. Try ‘em for yourself. If you don’t like ‘em, hey, no harm, no foul. But there is much to like in Robert E. Howard. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be eleven volumes of his work out from Del Rey, a new Conan movie coming soon, and a growing and active fanbase.

          And by the way, the takeaway message from Howard’s Conan series is that Civilization is inherently corrupt and rotton, and it’s only a matter of time before ambitious barbarians arrive to tear it down and remake the world in their own image…thus becoming civilized, and corrupt, and waiting for the next wave of barbarians at the gates. If we get an iota of that in the new Conan movie, I will very likely eat my hat.

  25. Avatar of mrmisconception
    May 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm —

    Man,
    When I heard that there was a “new” Conan I could almost hear the collective tightening of a million nerd sphincters.
    Unclench, this changes nothing. If you like it you incorporate it into your version of the cannon, if not you dismiss it.
    How may Star Wars geeks ignore the Christmas special (Lucas, at least)? How about episodes 1-3? A miilion novels? Fanfic? New Hope remastered?
    How many Buffy fans even realize there was a movie that started it all? How many know but ignore it? Same goes for M.A.S.H., and Parenthood, and Friday Night Lights.
    Enjoy what you will and ignore the rest, life’s too short to have a heart attack over a “ruined legacy”.
    Besides, does anyone really think that Lucas gives two shits what his haters think? He’s too busy swimming in his gold coins ala Scrooge McDuck.

  26. Avatar of BlackCat
    May 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm —

    I hate hate hate remakes. I will never see them, or will I waste any of my money on them. (There may be a scant few exceptions, but that’s a derail.) This trend of remaking anything with a marketable “brand” is loathesome and irritating. It’s the reason I’ve gone to Netflix and watch primarily foreign TV shows and movies: because they offer me more than Hollywood does.

    There’s a really interesting video on Feminist Frequency, wherein she talks about The Smurfette Principle, and the idea that all these remakes unfortunately perpetuate this awful stereotyping tokenism. I highly recommend it. http://www.feministfrequency.com/2011/04/tropes-vs-women-3-the-smurfette-principle/

  27. Avatar of Reverend Kel
    May 10, 2011 at 4:47 am —

    A Conan relaunch would do well to jump past the novels and work off any of the Marvel Comics “Savage Sword of Conan” magazines written by Roy Thomas. Hell, they’d already have the storyboards, and Thomas is the best Conan writer ever, IMHO. “Haunters of Castle Crimson” or “People of the Black Circle” would make awesome movies. Yes, I admit it; I’m a comic geek.
    To those who say “just start a new storyline with a barbarian NOT named Conan” I feel a lot of ticket sales come from the recognition factor of a known protagonist. The movie would have to be extra damned good to get past this speed bump, like the first Matrix movie. The second two sucked but sailed on because of brand identification. Again, IMHO.

  28. Avatar of ponderingturtle
    May 10, 2011 at 7:33 am —

    Oh come on everyone knows that the Rankin Bass version of the Lord of the Rings is definitive, were there’s a whip theres a way indeed.

    Also that only the first of the three versions of the adaptation of the Maltese Falcon that were done with in a decade was any good, not the third one with Bogart, dreadful.

    And of course the the silent 1925 version is also the definitive version of the Wizard of Oz. Screw you singing and color way over rated.

    The real point is that Sturgeon’s Law, just as most movies are crap most remakes are crap so if you remake a good movie the remake will likely be crap, but 90% of everything is crap. There are indisputably classic movies that are just as much a remake as Conan if not more, but they eclipsed the earlier versions and so are not thought of as remakes.

  29. Avatar of ElasticPlanet
    May 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm —

    For me, a movie just has to be good. In the same way that bands will cover or do a different arrangement of another artist’s song, or a broadway director gets an idea to do something different with a classic Shakespeare play, it’s entirely reasonable for a filmmaker to look at another story and think to themselves “I could do something really cool with that.”

    A great example is the modest-budget remake of “Dawn of the Dead.” Arguably a significantly better horror movie than the original (although maybe not as great as a social commentary), and it launched Zack Snyder’s career.

    Same goes for foreign adaptations: “The Departed” vs “Infernal Affairs” (both amazing). And I’ll probably catch hell for this, but I thought the american version of “Let the Right One In” is far superior to the original Norway version. The original survives mostly on it’s concept alone, but fails in storytelling and selling the character arcs, where the american “Let Me In” excels at making you believe the different relationships.

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