Conan the Destroyer (1984): Is the Movie Inspired by a True Story?

Directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular character, ‘Conan the Destroyer,’ is an adventure-sword fighting film that enthralls viewers with its humor, light-hearted fantasy, and witchcraft, marking the shift of Conan’s character from a barbaric savage to a more acceptable warrior from Cimmeria. Led to believe that his lost love, Valeria, will be resurrected, Conan is told to set out on a quest to retrieve a magical gem that is locked away by a powerful wizard in an impenetrable fortress and awaken the Dreaming God Dognath.

Despite being considered a step down from its prequel, ‘Conan the Barbarian,’ in terms of commercial success, several elements of the movie make it an entertaining watch. With facets of humor, mystery, and sorcery, the 1984 movie not only catapults the lauded character into a genre of family entertainment but also widens the scope of the warrior living in the Hyborian age. A narrative that almost feels historical, you may naturally wonder whether the realistic portrayal is based on real events or not. Let us find out!

Conan the Destroyer: Adaptation of a Book Series

No, ‘Conan the Destroyer’ is not based on a true story. The screenplay, written by Stanley Mann from a story by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, is based on the book series created by Robert E. Howard. With its first appearance dating back to the 1930s, the fictional character of Conan and his journey that’s packed with an element of suspense and invoking curiosity continues to enthrall the audience. The production value of the film went a step further to actualize the screenplay and story. From filming near a volcano and even a sand dune, the movie’s scale is monumental.

Even Bombaata’s horse was imported from Spain as the production team couldn’t find a horse tall enough to accommodate the actor’s feet. The story opens with a confrontation between the soldiers of Queen Taramis of Shadizar and Conan. Satisfied after testing his ability in combat, she proposes a quest to the adventurer and warrior. Upon refusing, she tells him that he can help resurrect his lost love, Valeria. So, Conan sets on a journey with the Queen’s niece Princess Jehnna, a virgin and the only person who can restore the horn of the Dreaming God Dagoth.

However, things are murky from the get-go, with the Queen ordering her guard to kill Conan once the gem is obtained. Even so, the group travels to the castle of Thoth-Amon, the site where the gem is located. What follows is a series of fights, from the wizard kidnapping Princess Jehnna to Conan battling a man-beast in a hall of mirrors and finally killing the wizard and rescuing Jehnna. The sequence of Conan fighting Thoth-Amon or the man-beast in the hall-of-mirrors was inspired by ‘Enter the Dragon.’ When the sight of the jeweled horn is revealed, the group sets out to the ancient temple.

It isn’t long before Conan learns of Bombaata’s treacherous ideas, and naturally, the warrior kills him in combat, and Zula ends up saving Jehnna from sacrifice. Dagoth transfers into a monstrous entity played by renowned wrestler Andre The Great. Conan manages to remove the horn containing the monster’s life, and the movie culminates with Princess Jehnna becoming the newly crowned Queen.

Even the companions are given a place in the royal court. Zula becomes the new captain of the guard, Akiro, the Queen’s advisor, Malak becomes the court jester, and Conan is proposed marriage and the position of King. Conan instead departs to find further adventures in the world. Even though the route of endless possibilities may seem the premise of Conan’s actual feats, we reiterate that the narrative is based on the conception of brilliant creators and writers!

With a storyline that keeps viewers transfixed on the endless possibilities it could culminate in, the movie has been lauded worldwide for its riveting plot and enthralling action scenes. So, even though ‘Conan the Destroyer’ is not the retelling of a legend or embedded in historical facts, it still manages to hit the spot with its scintillating production and evergreen plot.

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