November 16, 2018

“To crush your enemies...”

Conan The Barbarian, What is best in life quote QC wm copy

THE FAMOUS MOVIE QUOTE:

Barbarian General (actor Akio Mitamura): “Conan, what is best in life?”
Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger): “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!”

       From the film Conan the Barbarian (released in the US on May 14, 1982)
       Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “crush your enemies” line in Conan the Barbarian became the first of his many famous movie quotations as an actor. It’s also the first line he speaks in the film after a full twenty minutes of backstory recounting how Conan was captured as a boy by brutal barbarian raiders, used as a slave, then trained to be a vicious pit fighter and a warrior for his captors. Here’s the dialog from that scene (which you can watch on YouTube):             
         Barbarian General: “We won again. This is good! But what is best in life?”
         Warrior: “The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, wind in your hair!”
         General: “Wrong! Conan, what is best in life?”
         Conan (Arnold): “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!”
         Barbarian General: “That is good.”

      Conan’s last seven words are sometimes quoted as “to hear the lamentation of the women,” because Arnold’s Austrian accent makes the word “their” sound like “deh.” But I’m pretty sure it’s “their women” given the inspiration for the movie quote.
      John Milius, who directed Conan the Barbarian and co-wrote the screenplay with Oliver Stone, didn’t create Arnold’s famed catchphrase from whole cloth. It’s not in the Conan stories written by the creator of the character, Robert Howard. But it’s based on a passage in a book by one of Howard’s favorite writers, Harold Lamb.             
       In Lamb’s classic 1927 biography, Genghis Khan: The Emperor of All Men, he gives his version of a legendary quotation by the great conqueror at the end of Chapter 11. Lamb wrote:             
          One day in the pavilion at Karakorum he asked an officer of the Mongol guard what, in all the world, could bring the greatest happiness.             
          “The open steppe, a clear day, and a swift horse under you,” responded the officer after a little thought, “and a falcon on your wrist to start up hares.”             
          “Nay,” responded the Khan, “to crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet—to take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women. That is best.”

       The version of Khan’s words crafted by Milius (and/or Stone) for Conan the Barbarian became a popular catchphrase that has since been cited and adapted many times. Some of my favorite examples are below...

Conan cartoon, Peter Kuper, New Yorker

THE FAKE NEWS VERSION:

“I said, ‘Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women,’ but the media took that totally out of context.”
       Peter Kuper
       American illustrator and cartoonist
       His caption for a cartoon spoofing Conan and the frequent lament of politicians, published in The New Yorker, January 2017

Portrait of Cohen the Barbarian by Paul Kidby

COHEN THE BARBARIAN’S VARIATION:

[Nomad]: “What is it that a man may call the greatest things in life?”
[Cohen the Barbarian] “Hot water, good dentishtry and shoft lavatory paper.”
       From the Discworld novel The Light Fantastic (1986) by Terry Pratchett            
       This quote by the Cohen character (aka Ghenghiz Cohen) is a is a favorite of Discworld fans. Cohen is an aging, toothless barbarian who speaks with a lisp when he’s not wearing the special dentures he has made from the diamond teeth of the troll Old Grandad.
       (Portrait of Cohen with his diamond dentures by Paul Kidby.)

    John Ortberg

THE CHRISTIAN IDEAL:

“The heroic figure in Conan the Barbarian was actually paraphrasing Genghis Khan when he gave his famous answer to the question ‘What is best in life?'... An alternative idea came from Galilee: What is best in life is to love your enemies and see them reconciled to you.”
       John Ortberg
       Evangelical Christian author, speaker, and senior pastor of the ECO Presbyterian Menlo Church in Menlo Park, California
       In his book Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus (2012)

Internet troll Conan meme

THE INTERNET TROLL MINDSET:

“WHAT IS BEST IN LIFE? TO TROLL YOUR ENEMIES, TO SEE THEM BUTTHURT BEFORE YOU, AND TO HEAR THE LAMENTATIONS OF THEIR FOLLOWERS!”
       An internet meme seen on ImgFlip.com            

    Boo Cocky Robot Chicken Conan

THE ROBOT CHICKEN MUSICAL ADAPTATION:

[Conan singing]: “What is best in life? That is hard to say, for each man is unique in his own way.
As a boy, I liked gumdrops and puppies, sailboats and frogs, and my best friend little Ricky Maebius!
But when I became a young man, what was best in life began to change just like my body.
I liked pretty Stacy Lyon with her long blonde hair and eyes that were blue as the ocean!
But now that I’m grown, my thoughts have changed, and it’s pretty clear to me.
The answer to the question, ‘What is best in life?’ is plain enough for all to see.
Crush your enemies! Crush your enemies! And see them driven before you!
Crush your enemies! Crush your enemies! And see them driven before you!
And hear the lamentations of the women!”

       A hilarious parody song sung by an animated Conan action figure in the “Boo Cocky” episode of the Comedy Channel’s “Adult Swim” cartoon series Robot Chicken (Season 3, Episode 16; first aired September 7, 2008)

    Crush my enemies Christmas t-shirt

CONAN-INSPIRED CHRISTMAS CHEER:

“All I want for Christmas is
TO CRUSH MY ENEMIES
SEE THEM DRIVEN BEFORE ME
AND HEAR THE LAMENTATION
OF THEIR WOMEN”

       Slogan printed on t-shirts and other clothes sold by LookHuman.com            

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