Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Design of Conan the Barbarian

Ron Cobb was the production designer for the 1982 Conan the Barbarian.  He had previously worked as a conceptual artist on Alien and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  He and director John Milius were influenced by the work of Frank Frazetta and truly did a wonderful job of bringing Conan's world to the silver screen.

iconic Conan by Frank Frazetta

The sword of Conan's father is an important part of the film's story so it had to stand out.  I think Cobb managed to design an iconic prop.  The sword has been replicated dozens of times as a collectable for fans.

Cobb obviously worked closely with costume designer John Bloomfield because many of Cobb's costume sketches look as though they walked directly from the page to the screen.

I think perhaps Cobb's greatest contribution to Conan the Barbarian is his incredible set designs.  In the 1980s filmmakers still had to build most sets practically without any CG aids.  The epic scale of some of the Conan sets really hearkens back to the enormous sets for films like Cleopatra, Caligula and the biblical epics of the 60s.

Cobb has said that his favourite part of designing Conan the Barbarian was the chance to create entirely new architectural styles that seemed otherworldly but were also familiar enough to have actually existed in Earth's distant past.