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Conan the Barbarian, Conan's Father (William Smith)

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Film: Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Deceased Character: Conan's Father (William Smith)
Archetype: Goody (Minor)
Killed with: War dogs

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Written by Old Bluffer 20th May 2009

Conan's father is a Cimmerian, a hard people, used to harsh winters and followers of a harsher god.

"Fire and wind come from the sky, from the gods of the sky. But Crom is your god. Crom, and he lives in the earth. Once, giants lived in the Earth, Conan. And in the darkness of chaos, they fooled Crom, and they took from him the enigma of steel. Crom was angered. And the Earth shook. Fire and wind struck down these giants, and they threw their bodies into the waters, but in their rage, the gods forgot the secret of steel and left it on the battlefield. We who found it are just men. Not gods. Not giants. Just men. The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle, Conan. You must learn its discipline. For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts."

He then points meaningfully at his sword.

"This you can trust."

The young Conan takes this philosophy for the rest of his life, but in the Director's Cut, we get a hint that the Cimmerians aren't all about sword forging and battle, they have a softer side too.  As Conan reflects:

"I remember days like this when my father took me to the forest and we ate wild blueberries. More than twenty 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."

Nonetheless, this is a Barbarian movie, and there is no way that the eponymous hero of the piece is going to be allowed an idyllic childhood with his parents. And after a mere few minutes into the film we are shown Thulsa Doom's armoured forces, riding ominously through icy forests.

The raid on Conan's village, when it happens, is swift and devastating.  Surprisingly so in fact, as Doom's forces burn and slaughter with virtual impunity.  One would think Crom would be desperately unhappy at the pitiful defence the villagers put up. [In fact, their fighting skills are so poor I'm inclined to think there is some kind of back-story here that I'm not aware of - maybe Conan's family are exiles, and the only true warriors in the village? - Old Bluffer]

Conan's father (who I'm going to call Mordec from now on, as that is apparently his name in the Conan canon) is made of far sterner stuff though, and drawing the mighty sword that we saw him forging during the opening credits, he sets about exacting a heavy price on any raider brave enough to face him.

Foe after foe fall to his blade, at least half a dozen or more, until a nameless fellow on a grey horse slams an axe into his back.

Seriously wounded, Mordec stands no chance as two ferocious looking armoured wardogs charge towards him and start rending his flesh.  From the distance, the young Conan and his mother look on in horror as the dogs take him down, and all Mordec can do is die, painfully.

Old Bluffer's Note:

Wikipedia currently states that Conan's father is wounded by Rexor and Thorgrim, but I don't see any evidence of this. Thorgrim swings his oversized hammer but Mordec easily ducks underneath it.  The chap that hits him with a fairly ordinary axe is not Rexor - he has a brown beard and is nobody special as far as I can tell.

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Other Death Reviews for Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Conan's Father (William Smith)
Conan's Mother (Nadiuska)
Valeria (Sandahl Bergman)
Thorgrim (Sven-Ole Thorsen)
Rexor (Ben Davidson)
Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones)

Last Updated: 21st May 2009
Number of views for this review since 30th May 2008: 5574
This review has 8 comments. Reply to the comments
Comment 1 by 'Flashpenny' (reply to this comment)
I vote this be put into the Blaze of Glory category. I mean this dude killed at least twenty men who were on horseback. Most people would be lucky to kill one. Besides it's impossible not to see this as a Blaze of Glory considering the fact the epic track that plays goes so well with his last stand. It's also the earliest one I've ever seen in a movie.
Comment 2 by 'old bluffer' (reply to this comment)
Much as I like this scene, he doesn't kill anywhere near twenty men as far as I remember. Also, his death doesn't really gain him much glory. He kills a handful of minor raiders, but his wife dies and his son is sold into ignominious slavery for a score of years.

Rexor is a real cowardly swine for ordering the war dogs in to kill him too - he deserved to die in honest combat. Then again, why would a snake cult have honour...

The music is indeed outstanding as usual though. The soundtrack for this film is easily in my top five favourites of all time, and could be a contender for the number one spot depending on my mood.
Comment 3 by 'Flashpenny' (reply to this comment)
Still you've got to admit he does kill quite a few horseback raiders. Killing one dude on horseback is practically a rite of passage, he killed somewhere from 15-25 (10 is the bottom line). Besides I see it sorta glorifying if a big badass such as Rexor is cowardly ordering war dogs rather than fighting him man-to-man.

Also for the thing in the actual description about the village's pitiful defense I do recall some of the villagers trying to get weapons before being cut down. For example I saw a man behind a counter attempt to reach under his counter for something (presumably a sword) but he is shanked before he can do so.
Comment 4 by 'Al Harron' (reply to this comment)
Conan's father's name is never mentioned by Howard, but in later works by other authors it varies. The most common is Corin (the name they're going with in the upcoming film), followed by Nial. Mordec was only his name in Conan of Venarium, an absolutely atrocious book that's bad even by non-Howard author standards.
Comment 5 by 'parones' (reply to this comment)
I love the scene- but there's no way he kills as many as you think- seems you've glorified him in your mind- watch again and try to remain objective and just count- I know it's hard not to get caught up in the fight though!
Comment 6 by 'B.R.' (reply to this comment)
I love the snake standard in this movie. Also, Thulsa Doom's helmet was even better, like a cross between a Sparten helmet and a Kobuto(Samurai helmet). :samurai:
Comment 7 by 'Ancient Conan fan' (reply to this comment)
This Conan canon? Where do they get their info? Conan's father and mother are not named in the movie. They are in the book of the movie by De Camp and Carter. To set the record straight:

Conan's father is "Nial" not Mordec.
Conan's mother is "Maeve" not Verina.
Comment 8 by 'Algesan' (reply to this comment)
Guys, the entire village fight is cinematic, not to be taken as reality. Remember, only so much screen time can be alloted to various bits. So what do we really see? Some villagers getting their licks in, Conan's father being the chief defender with his special sword, but mainly getting overwhelmed by a superior force by surprise. No time to form a shield wall or close ranks, just fignt and die in the village alone. I will note that although there are some continuity errors (Mom moves towards Conan, hiding behind a bush without her sword and then later shown with blood on her sword), Mom probably got a few too. There are a few other spots where the action is a bit choppy. I'm sure a significant amount of shot scenes ended up on the cutting room floor and leaving the message that the villagers took an honor guard before being overwhelmed.