Sunday, 4 April 2010

Triangulation: Gazetteers, Barbarians, Milius, Momoa and Empire

I just have to post a link to the Keegans' April Fool's gag. This was great fun, and I'd love to see some more crazy Two-Gun Bob crossovers!

So, after far too long going without a Hyborian Age Gazetteer, on Sunday I muse about Khorala. It still bugs me that De Camp made Khorala into some ancient mysterious city in jungle-lost Vendhya, yet never had Conan visit it! What on earth? How can you leave us hanging like that? Conan's been to Alkmeenon, Xuthal, Xuchotl, Dagonia, the City of the Winged ones, yet he hasn't been to Khorala despite its relative proximity to Ghulistan? I'm therefore far happier imagining Khorala as a thriving kingdom than as a forgotten (in more ways than one) pile of ruins.

A day after a Gazetteer update comes a "Barbarians of Middle-earth" update, as on Monday I chat about the mysterious Lossoth. All the Middle-earth fan-fiction out there, and nobody tries to fill out the genuine mysteries of Middle-earth unless it gives them an excuse to include Legolas or Faramir or Aragorn or their own self-insert. Just as well Chris Tolkien hasn't allowed professional fan fiction in the guise of pastiches.

On Tuesday we find that Milius is not a fan of the upcoming "Conan" film. To be frank, I don't blame him for all the reasons I state, even if I still have a certain amount of animosity to the guy for Conan the Barbarian and all the well-poisoning it did. I still live in fear that if the new film's a disaster, Lionsgate will fly to Milius and plead with him to make "a real Conan movie," by which time Arnold will be out of office. You know what that means - King Conan: Crown of Iron and King Conan: Beneath My Sandalled Feet, which I'm concerned will be the Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions for Conan the Barbarian.

Movie news comes on Thursday, where Patrice Louinet reveals his impression of Momoa as Conan in as-yet-unreleased promotional images. Honestly, I think it's actually worse that Momoa might end up a decent Conan, since that would mean he's been wasted on this dreck. As an aside: an earlier version of the post was titled "Jason Momoa: A Scholar's Thoughts." One of my readers told me that someone might take the title the wrong way, that I was referring to myself as a scholar - though of course, that would require someone to read the title and nothing else, least of all the first paragraph, where I would've thought it was made clear I was referring to Patrice Louinet as a scholar, not myself. Nonetheless, I changed it just in case: readers of this blog will know how flabbergasted I was - and still am - to be nominated for the Venarium, so there's no fear of the nomination going to my head.

Another Howard scholar is involved in Conan movie news for Saturday, as Rusty Burke was quoted in Empire. I'm going to have to get the next issue to see if any REH fans or scholars write in to the letters page. It really was a good wee article, informative and without any major blunders. If I had a fault which I neglected to mention, it was that Williams states that Conan the Barbarian is more Howardian than most think:

Conan the Barbarian is actually more Howardian than it's given credit for - albeit in a garbled way. Thulsa Doom is a character from Howard's Kull of Atlantis stories, but as portrayed by James Earl Jones and depicted as leader of a snake cult, he's actually Conan villain Thoth-Amon (from "The Phoenix on the Sword") in all but name. Bergman's Valeria is a pirate queen from "Red Nails," but her use as a love interest and her return from the grave to rescue Conan in battle mean she's fused with Belit from Queen of the Black Coast (1934). The peculiar scene where Conan meets a witch, who after some nookie and a scuffle mutates into a flaming comet, has its roots in Howard's non-Conan story, "Worms of the Earth" (1932); the tower climb nods to "The Tower of the Elephant" (1933)...
Well first of all, that idea of Thulsa Doom being "Thoth-Amon in all but name" is a complete crock. Thoth-Amon was the leader of a cabal of black magicians, not a mere "snake cult"; he was a tall (a giant, in fact), rangy and dark-skinned Stygian, not a short portly black man; he was fierce and ambitious and independent, not the pseudo Jim Jones demagogue of the film; the worship of Set involves none of the hippy-mummery of the film; he had no hand in the early life of Conan etc. There's a whole article in denouncing the Fool's Doom=Thoth-Amon fallacy, but I'll leave that for another time.

Secondly, just how much of those elements really matter in the grand scheme of things? The events from Howard stories can't amount to much more than 10 minutes of the entire film, tops. 10 minutes of a 2 hour movie - and you're saying that makes it more Howardian than usually given credit? Considering that many people still maintain that it "follows the tone and feel" and "is true to the spirit by not being true to the letter" of Howard? Come on, dude. It's as close to the real Conan as the Reb Brown Captain America. At least with that film, nobody's going to defend it as being true to the original.

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