I’ve taken it upon myself, on multiple occasions, to take tales told since time immemorial and put them in modern context. Greek myths in space, Norse myths in the Old West, and so on. So, as a rule, I have nothing against remakes. I think they can be good, if they are done correctly and with respect. I
Consider Dredd and the 2011 version of Conan the Barbarian. In both cases, the title character eschews a great deal more towards the material from which they were born. Karl Urban as Dredd never takes off his helmet, doesn’t go for bombastic declarations, and the atmosphere around him is gritty and realistic rather than grandiose and covered in shiny metal or neon lights.
As for Conan, while the 1982 version is a lovely classic of good old-fashioned high fantasy sword-and-sandals adventure, the 2011 version had a title character who hewed closer to Robert E Howard’s text. Conan was never a man of great words or deep letters, but Arnold’s nearly silent performance was a bit too stoic. Jason Momoa, in addition to being closer to the description Howard gave us, speaks often and echoes the original tales. I will admit, the statement of purpose we got from Arnold in 1982 is pretty killer:
“Conan! What is best in life?”
“TO CRUSH YOUR ENEMIES, TO SEE THEM DRIVEN BEFORE YOU, AND TO HEAR THE LAMENTATIONS OF THEIR WOMEN.”
But in 2011, Conan boils himself down this:
“I live, I love, I slay, and I am content.”
These words come from arguably the most well-known Conan story, ‘Queen of the Black Coast’.
He shrugged his shoulders. “I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”
I for one would love to see Jason Momoa star in a depiction of ‘Queen of the Black Coast’, or ‘Red Nails’. I’d like to think there’s potential for an adaptation of one or both of these tales. Especially with the way Mr. Momoa broods, sneers, laughs, and fights when we saw him playing Conan. Basically, I’m adding this idea to my “future content creation” bucket list.
Hey, a man can dream, right?