Classic Movie Themes: Conan the Barbarian
A well written film soundtrack does more than simply embellish the on-screen imagery. It permeates the very fabric of the film and becomes character itself, adding emotional content and driving forward the narrative. However, there is a fine line between enhancing the pace and atmosphere of a film and simply "telegraphing" imminent events in a melodramatic fashion. The score for Conan The Barbarian by the late Basil Poledouris is a rare example of the former and in itself totally sublime. Using the traditional style of the "leitmotif", a ninety-piece orchestra and twenty four voice choir, Poledouris creates "a continuous musical drama" that has now entered the pantheon of classic modern film scores.
The opening credits of 1982 movie directed by John Milius, (infinitely superior to the 2011 reboot) depicts Conan's Father forging a sword and establishes the central plot device regarding the "Riddle of Steel." The sequence is beautifully complemented by Basil Poledouris's intense and bombastic title theme, the "Anvil of Crom". It is a powerful piece played by twenty French horns, strings and timpani and sets the tone eloquently for the remainder of the film. According to Poledouris, Milius envisioned Conan as an opera with very little or no dialogue. The movie therefore has musical accompaniment for most of its two hour plus running time.