Monday, April 15, 2019

Conan Meets the Wizard of Oz

I was watching the movie Conan the Destroyer (not the first one, the reprehensible Conan the Barbarian), when I realized it had strong similarities to The Wizard of Oz. This might sound insane at first, but as I watched it again, the similar plot points were astonishing. Note that characters slide around, e.g., sometimes Conan is Dorothy, sometimes the Princess is. See if you think this is just coincidental. (The first few comparisons may seem unremarkable, but the whole is greater than the parts. And obviously, these are spoilers.)  

The Wizard of Oz starts with Dorothy running on a road.
Conan the Destroyer starts with soldiers galloping on horseback.

Dorothy descends from a tornado.
Soldiers on horseback descend on Conan in a plain.

Dorothy sings of over the rainbow (out of sequence)
Witch-Queen promises Conan to bring back the dead Valeria.

Dorothy greeted enthusiastically by Munchkins.
Conan greeted enthusiastically by crowd.

Evil Witch threatens Dorothy.
Witch-Queen plots to sacrifice Princess.

Good Witch sends Dorothy on her way.
Witch-Queen sends Conan and Princess on their way.

Dorothy acquires three companions: Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion.
Conan acquires three companions: Thief = Cowardly Lion, Wizard = Scarecrow, Female Warrior = Tin Man.

Dorothy falls into a perilous sleep.
Princess falls asleep and is snatched away.

Confrontation with high gatekeeper of Oz.
Confrontation with wizard in high castle.

Dorothy and companions get spiffed up.
Princess and companions tend to each other’s wounds.

Dorothy meets the great big fiery head of the Wizard of Oz.
Princess walks into a great big mouth through blazing fire.

Attack of the flying monkeys.
Attack of the guardians of the horn.

Funny pratfall by Lion (out of sequence)
Funny battle of wizards.

Dorothy taken.
Princess taken.

Companions go after Dorothy.
Companions go after Princess.

Evil Witch prepares for Dorothy’s death using a red hourglass.
Witch-Queen prepares Princess for sacrifice using red wine.

Sneaking into the castle.
Sneaking into the palace.

Castle battle.
Palace battle.

Evil Witch killed abruptly.
Witch-Queen killed abruptly.

Dorothy brings Evil Witch’s broom to Wizard of Oz; confrontation with the Wizard.
Princess brings horn to evil god (out of sequence); Conan battles evil god.

Wizard gives gifts to each companion.
Princess invites each companion into her service.

Wizard tries to take Dorothy home by balloon; Dorothy steps out of carriage.
Princess asks Conan to rule with her; Conan goes off to find his own kingdom.

Dorothy returns home.
Conan eventually gains his own kingdom.

Obviously, Conan the Destroyer is its own story, with needless violence every so often. And the character of Bombaata, who betrays them, is unique to that movie. But do I think this proves the writers used The Wizard of Oz for their basic plot? Perhaps, perhaps not. At the least, it shows the lack of originality in Hollywood.


Damyanti Biswas said...

The basic plot is absolutely the same. The story and characters are different. Nicely done analysis, and yes Hollywood goes for tried and tested plots.

Mark Murata said...

Yes! Confirmation from someone who understands story.


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