Book Review: Conan The Barbarian: The Official Story of The Film

Official retrospective hardback book telling the story of the making of Conan The Barbarian

Description: Official retrospective hardback book telling the story of the making of Conan The Barbarian, including interviews with cast and crew and featuring behind-the-scenes photography from the shoot.

In 1982, Robert E. Howard’s iconic literary anti-hero, Conan, slashed his way from page to screen after a perilous decades-long journey. With its potent mix of epic vistas and bloody battles, Conan the Barbarian thrilled moviegoers around the world and launched the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger.



Award-winning filmmaker John Walsh strikes again with another of his books detailing the creation of another iconic movie. Having brought the stories from movies such as Flash Gordon and Escape from New York. The filmmaker turned author now brings us the official story of the making of 1982’s Conan The Barbarian, which not only brought Robert E. Howard’s classic Barbarian character to Cinema but also made a star of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Yet again. John Walsh structures a book that details every single aspect of making the movie. Taking you through pre-production through to post-production and the end product. It’s highly recommended to re-watch the films while reading these books. As I find it enriches the experience.


The Artwork

The artwork on the front of the book is magnificent. We get a faithful reproduction of one of the Conan movie posters adorning the front cover of the book and the image of Conan on the cover has a rough and pleasant feel to it when you run your hand over the book’s dust cover.

Inside the book is a plethora of images from the film as well as never before seen art and photographs from the production of the movie. This includes a look at some of the storyboards from the movie as well as concept art. It also features some prints of the classic Frank Frazetta Book covers from the series of Conan novels that were released after Robert E. Howard passed away in the 1930s.


The Book & Its Contents

As stated above. This book takes you through every aspect of the making of Conan The Barbarian and offers up a rare opportunity for film enthusiasts to learn about the creative process behind the film. The early chapters focus on the pre-production and how no studio would touch the movie due to the costs and the fact that they did not think a Swords and Sandals movie would find an audience. In even includes a nicely written tribute to Robert E Howard who created Conan The Barbarian along with other fantasy-based characters such as Red Sonja, Solomon Kane, and of course Kull of Atlantis.

Something that I was surprised to learn from reading this book was the fact that Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay that was used as a loose template to hang the film’s story around, but due to production limitations at the time. Stone’s screenplay was never viewed as filmable as it was very much ahead of its time with Orcs and many of the fantasy staples that moviegoers would not get to see until the 2000s in The Lord of The Rings trilogy. The book also talks about the working relationship between Oliver Stone and Conan’s director John Milius who both had different visions for the film. In short Stones story was high fantasy with orcs and monsters. Whereas Milius wanted a much more grounded fantasy film. Personally, I feel that the end product included the best of both worlds.

Added to all of this. The book includes interviews with every cast member. Including the films Star Arnold Schwarzenegger who was a relatively unknown actor when the film was made. His only acting credits at that time were for Hercules in New York, Stay Hungry, and the body-building documentary Pumping Iron. It was Conan The Barbarian that launched Schwarzenegger’s career and saw him go on to be one of the biggest action movie stars of the 80s and 90s.


Overall and Value For Money

Conan The Barbarian: The Official Story of The Film offers great value for money and makes for a great conversation piece to have around the house as it proudly sits on your coffee table. Its a great book for movie fans in general, but would also make for a great gift for any Conan fans out there that love the movie and want to learn more about how the film evolved into its final form.

Like with previous books. This book is broken down into sections that take you through the various stages of the production of the films. Which works out as a brilliant narrative device.

Highly recommended and brilliant value for money if you are a fan of the film.

You’ll be able to purchase your own copy of this book when it gets unleashed on the 8th of August. You will be able to buy it directly from Titan Books as well as at other good book stores. Just be careful not to cut yourself on the pointy bits.


Conan The Barbarian: The Official Story of The Film
  • Artwork
  • Content
  • Overall Presentation

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
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