Life Lessons from ‘Conan the Barbarian’

Most of my friends know that one of my all-time favorite movies is Conan the Barbarian. Despite this, I think I’ve probably watched the sequel Conan the Destroyer more often. It’s pretty simple, really- I’ve got to be in the right mood to watch Barbarian, while Destroyer is pretty easy to just pick up when you’re killing some time. There’s no denying that the 80’s were the best era for fantasy flicks; it’s the decade that not only brought us Conan, but Legend, Labyrinth, The Neverending Story, Beastmaster and Willow, just to name a few. Good times, good times.

So today I managed to watch Conan the Destroyer for the Lord-only-knows-how-many time, and started thinking about how many life lessons I pulled from these two movies as I was growing up. If you look beyond the obvious stuff (like that whole Crush Your Enemy, See Him Driven Before You, and Hear the Lamentations of the Women bit; sound advice if you’re a barbarian, but liable to get you arrested in this day and age), there was some pretty good advice in there for a growing youth. Let’s examine.

“Know Who You Can Trust.”
Companions that fought at Conan’s side

Throughout the movies, Conan surrounded himself with companions that had each other’s best interests in mind. Subotai, Valeria, Malick, Akiro, and Zula, all were people that had his back, and that he watched out for as well. Then there was Bombataa, captain of the Queen’s guard, and eventual thorn in the party’s side. The lesson here was to be careful of who you trust, because not everyone would have your best interests in mind.

Also, the thought of Wilt Chamberlain protecting anyone's virginity amuses me to no end.

“If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, Then It Probably Is.”
Queen Taramis offers to resurect Valeria (CtD)

As a general rule, it’s never a good idea to raise anything from the dead. This includes, but is not limited to, family, loved ones, and/or pets. Towards the beginning of Destroyer, Queen Taramis convinces Conan to help her procure an artifact that, had he asked for a full-disclosure agreement,  he would have known could potentially lead to the destruction of the entire world. Minor details, really. But of course, Taramis offers to resurrect his dead love Valeria, and it’s game on. Conan ends up wrestling a wizard, fighting countless soldiers, going toe-to-toe with Wilt Chamberlain, getting screwed over by the queen, and ultimately brawling with Andre the Giant in a rubber suit with a horn sticking out of his face.

Fine print? That's for girlie-men.

“Work Smarter, Not Harder.”
Battle on the Mounds (CtB)

After sneaking into Thulsa Doom’s pad, totally wrecking his cannibalistic orgy and stealing away the princess, it’s understandable that our villain is a little less than pleased with our band of heroes. As such, Thulsa Doom sends forth his army of twin-snakey terror to murder the everloving hell out of Conan and company. Rather than shout a defiant “CROM!” and go running headfirst into the fray, though, Conan, Subotai, and Akiro came up with a simple plan. They would stand their ground at the mounds, but not after laying out every single trap known to man for Thulsa Doom’s men. They fought intelligently, and in the end, were victorious.

The last thing one sees before entering Barbarian Hell. Because surely, there is no Barbarian Heaven.

“Never Let Your Past Dictate Your Future.”
Like, the entire first movie

Let’s face it, Conan’s prospects in life sort of went to hell within the first 20 minutes of the first movie, with the whole being-sold-into-slavery-after-the-freaky-snake-dude-slays-my-entire-village-and-beheads-my-mother business. But despite this, Conan goes from orphan to slave, from slave to gladiator, gladiator to thief, and eventually from thief to king (but that, as they say, is another story). Not too shabby.

Crom Approves.

Everything’s got a lesson. You’ve just got to pay attention!