SOURCES: Metal Hurlant, The Gift of Fury.

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All the shots which appear in CONAN THE BARBARIAN were not filmed by Milius. Terry Leonard, for one, the second unit director, shot some of the action scenes. Ron Cobb himself (officially listed in the credits as a mere "production designer") closely participated in the filming: interviewed in the making of documentary by Laurent Bouzereau, he reveals for example that he was entirely responsible for the creating-the-sword opening sequence. His contribution in this field however was not limited only to second unit shots [1], as testified by this photograph (picture 1) published in the special issue of the French mag "Metal Hurlant", with the following caption:

  Ron Cobb directed himself several sequences of the film. Here, he is seen encouraging with gesture an actor who incarnates a believer, follower of Set, led to suicide by Thulsa Doom who wants to provide a demonstration of his power to Conan. Originally, this scene was to see Doom sacrificing both a young man and a girl for his ends, but only one of them will remain.

As a result, the final cut contains only one suicide, the first one, the girl jumping into the void one [2]. Akim “Goose” Bischoff describes in details the second suicide in his webpage devoted to the "lost scenes":

  During the famous scene that takes place in the garden of the Mountain of Power, Thulsa Doom curses Conan for killing his snake, and lectures the barbarian in solving the Riddle of Steel. Doom also demonstrates his power by beckoning a female follower to plummet from a cliff edge and fall to her death, a suicide in the grace of Doom. Before this scene suffered major cuts in the editing room, Thulsa Doom's demonstration of power did not end with the girl's fateful fall. In the shot shown above, after her jump to death, Thulsa Doom approaches a boy in the garden and whispers "Join her in paradise, my son." The young follower quickly whips out a dagger, and plunges it expertly into his heart, slowly falling to the floor. Thulsa Doom lurks over the dead boy, quietly proclaims "I have a thousand more just like them.", and then turns to Conan and shouts "That is strenght, boy -- that is power!". It is assumed this second suicide command was cut due to time constraints.

The scene appears in the novelization, but in a version appreciably different from the one filmed by Cobb (the young follower is no longer standing next to Thulsa Doom, close to the fountain, but above him, in the heights):

  Thulsa Doom paused and stared at Conan's impassive face. The barbarian's closed countenance, the set of his bruised shoulders seemed to the cult leader to diminish his power, to offer an unspoken insult to one unused to insults. He made one more attempt to reassert his authority and to impress the stubborn youth, whose body was in chains but whose soul remained free.
  Doom raised a hand and caught the attention of the weeping lad who stood immobile, looking down at the broken body of the girl he loved. Doom's cruel lips curled, a movement noticed only by the keen-eyed Cimmerian, and a false smile lit his dark visage, as he whispered a command.
  "Join her in Paradise, my son."
  Without hesitation, moving like one walking in a dream, the boy unsheathed a small, jeweled dagger and plunged the sharp blade into his heart. The sun sparkled on the fountaining blood that poured from the wound, as the boy posed, statue-like, atop the wall. Then suddenly he crumpled and, pitching forward, fell dying on the body of the girl.
  There was a look of triumph on the face of Thulsa Doom as he turned to regard the barbarian. "I have," he smiled, "a thousand more like them."
  Conan, unimpressed, stared at him dourly. "What is it to me that you have power over fools and weaklings? You have never met a real man on equal terms and fought him face to face or hand to hand."
  Fires of hate glowed in Doom's eyes, and something akin to shame flared for an instant and subsided under almost superhuman control.

The keen eye will notice multiple continuity errors in the final scene, which reveal the loss of the second suicide. At the time of the fall of the girl, one can see the follower (the young man) right next to Thulsa Doom (picture 2): in the next shots, he misteriously disappears. When he is addressing to Conan, it is seen very clearly that Doom indicates two bodies on the ground with his hand: "That is strength, boy!" (Doom shows something which is off camera, beside him: the young man's body), then "That is power!" (Doom shows something which is off camera, behind him: the girl's body). At the beginning of the scene, the leader was holding the jade symbol pendant stolen by Conan in the Tower of the Serpent [3] ; at the end of the scene, he is holding some unidentified piece of fabric (picture 3), come from nowhere: in fact, the hood of the young man (which Doom just took from him, as one can see on the behind-the-scenes photo from "Metal Hurlant" [picture 1]).

Akim Bischoff
suggests that the second suicide was cut for length reasons. In the end, maybe Milius did not want to leave in his film a redundant scene, obviously rather graphic and (main reason?) filmed by someone else than himself...

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ConanCompletist 2004