SOURCES: IGN Film Forces.

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The "Moby Dick" scene is the only deleted scene that was reinstated in the movie at Milius' request, when the Special Edition was made for DVD. The director explains his choice in the audio commentary:

  "There was a scene I always wanted to put in. And it was really kind of... we used to call it the "Moby Dick" scene. There is a scene in "Moby Dick" [the novel] where Ahab talks about what life he'd been if he he hadn't been Ahab, if he had not been on the wild, on the seas these 40 years... What has this done to him, always in pursuit of some blind dumb animal of the deep? "This curse that would taken me off my leg and made me pursue Moby Dick..." This kind of thing... And that's a wonderful speech! And, of course, I wanted to do a scene like that, so I wanted the scene where Conan talk... Because, you never have that, in any movie, a scene where the hero questions himself... I really loved the idea of Arnold questioning himself... But everybody was against it, because... They said "He's not a good enough actor!" And, actually, he did it just wonderfully! He really did it worthy of any actor. And he... and questions "What kind of life is this? What have I done for 20 years?" And it's very powerful, to have that before the final battle. Because this guy is not just a guy being on revenge. He's a complicated character, and there is a consequence to all this. So, the new version is really a much deeper and resonate film..."
Milius seems so attached to this passage of the Melville novel that he even acknowledges to have been inspired by it once again, a few years later, when Sean Connery asked him to flesh out his Russian submarine captain character in THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER:


MILIUS: [There is this] great speech in "Moby Dick" that I always loved (...). I do a sort of paraphrasing of it in [THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER]. I did a paraphrasing in CONAN, and I didn't get to put it back into CONAN until just recently.

IGN FILM FORCE: With the DVD edition?

MILIUS: Yeah. It's a great speech where Ahab talks about "What life is there for Achab?" What has he done all of his life? He's chased leviathan on the pitiless sea. Then he recounts how little time he spent with his wife and how she walks the widow's walk in some house on Nantucket, you know, waiting for him, and he'll never come back... This wonderful, wonderful thing, where he sort of thinks about what life might have been if he was different. It was great, because he says it to Starbuck, who wants him to stop, and of course he isn't going to stop. I remember [Sean Connery] did that very, very well [in THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER], and that was sort of an interesting view into that character, which wasn't in the book or anything.


Here is a transcript of the dialogues from the scene reinstated in CONAN, THE BARBARIAN:


I remember days like this, when my father took me to the forest and we ate wild blueberries. More than 20 years ago. I was just a boy of four or five. The leaves were so dark and green then. The grass smelled sweet with the spring wind. Almost 20 years of pitiless combat. No rest, no sleep like other men. And yet the spring wind blows, Subotai. Have you ever felt such a wind?

They blow where I live too. In the north of every man's heart.

It's never too late, Subotai.

No. It would only lead me back here another day. In even worse company.

For us, there is no spring. Just the wind that smells fresh before the storm.


It should be noted that the rehabilitation of this scene led to the disappearance of a shot in the new cut, compared to the old cut: after the princess closes her eyes, we originally came back on a pensive Conan, sitted at the bottom of the mound (pictures 1 to 3). In the new cut, the princess shot in profile (a shot which was appreciably shortened besides) directly dissolves into the "Moby Dick" scene: the Conan shot is gone! Such a choice is debatable, and one can wonder whether Milius is truly responsible for it. In fact, it is obvious that he and Schwarzenegger are only commenting the old cut on the DVD: the director's comment which accompanies the "Moby Dick" scene was clearly recorded separately, during a subsequent session, in the absence of the actor [1]. It is thus possible that Milius was only shown this scene on its own, out of context, and not reinstated in the new cut. So its "Director's Approved" quality could probably be disputed...

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ConanCompletist 2004