Citizen Solomon Kane

This comment by Leo Grin (by way of NRO) about the new CONAN movie has quashed my desire to see it. Movies should be made about barbarians, say I, not by barbarians.

Leo Grin says:

Saw Conan the Barbarian last night. Revoltingly stupid, incomprehensibly plotted and edited, and overflowing with the kind of quasi-erotic torture porn (seemingly pulled wholesale out of a serial killer’s wet dreams) that’s become a staple of both fantasy literature and Hollywood films this century. Easily one of the worst films I’ve seen during decades of painfully slumming through mediocre genre fare — I daresay even Uwe Boll (the ham-fisted director commonly seen as the modern era’s answer to Ed Wood) has never made anything this irredeemably rotten. As you know, the best of Robert E. Howard’s pulp tales of the 1930s — which in recent years have been reprinted everywhere from academic presses to Penguin’s prestigious Modern Classics imprint, and which the various silly comic books and movies resemble not a whit — cry out for the cinematic talents of a Akira Kurosawa or a Sergio Leone, men possessed of the same operatic poetry, grandeur, heroism, and thematic depth found in Howard’s original stories. Perhaps someday. Until then? Well, the audience I saw the movie with seemed to have cheerfully low expectations, yet even they didn’t so much leave the theater as recoil from it. You’ve been warned.

I also link to the Black Gate comment on this comment because it has the following “crowning moment of win” and I am stabbed with scorpion stings of envy because my pen did not father these immortal words:

someone desperately needs to make a movie entitled Citizen Solomon Kane about an elderly Puritan who owns a media empire and dies with the mysterious word Rosebud on his lips after a long life spent reporting on politicians and industrial magnates by day and slaughtering the bad ones with a sword by night

* * * *

Those of you unfamiliar with the character of Solomon Kane, Puritan Adventurer, let this bit of poetry serve as an introduction. Those of you not familiar with CITIZEN KANE, hie thee and with all haste to Netflicks, and netflick.

Solomon Kane’s Homecoming

The white gulls wheeled above the cliffs, the air was slashed with foam,
The long tides moaned along the strand when Solomon Kane came home.
He walked in silence strange and dazed through the little Devon town,
His gaze, like a ghost’s come back to life, roamed up the streets and down.
The people followed wonderingly to mark his spectral stare,
And in the tavern silently they thronged about him there.
He heard as a man hears in a dream the worn old rafters creak,
And Solomon lifted his drinking-jack and spoke as a ghost might speak:
“There sat Sir Richard Grenville once; in smoke and flame he passed.
“And we were one to fifty-three, but we gave them blast for blast.
“From crimson dawn to crimson dawn, we held the Dons at bay.
“The dead lay littered on our decks, our masts were shot away.
“We beat them back with broken blades, till crimsom ran the tide;
“Death thundered in the cannon smoke when Richard Grenville died.
“We should have blown her hull apart and sunk beneath the Main.”
The people saw upon his wrist the scars of the racks of Spain.
“Where is Bess?” said Solomon Kane. “Woe that I caused her tears.”
“In the quiet churchyard by the sea she has slept these seven years.”
The sea-wind moaned at the window-pane, and Solomon bowed his head.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and the fairest fade,” he said.
His eyes were mytical deep pools that drowned unearthly things,
And Solomon lifted up his head and spoke of his wanderings.
“Mine eyes have looked on sorcery in dark and naked lands,
“Horror born of the jungle gloom and death on the pathless sands.
“And I have known a deathless queen in a city old as Death[1],
“Where towering pyramids of skulls her glory witnesseth.
“Her kiss was like an adder’s fang, with the sweetness Lilith had,
“And her red-eyed vassals howled for blood in that City of the Mad.

“And I have slain a vampire shape that drank a black king white[2],
“And I have roamed through grisly hills where dead men walked at night[3].
“And I have seen heads fall like fruit in a slaver’s barracoon[4],
“And I have seen winged demons fly all naked in the moon[5].

“My feet are weary of wandering and age comes on apace;
“I fain would dwell in Devon now, forever in my place.”
The howling of the ocean pack came whistling down the gale,
And Solomon Kane threw up his head like a hound that sniffs the trail.
A-down the wind like a running pack the hounds of the ocean bayed,
And Solomon Kane rose up again and girt his Spanish blade.
In his strange cold eyes a vagrant gleam grew wayward and blind and bright,
And Solomon put the people by and went into the night.
A wild moon rode the wild white clouds, the waves in white crests flowed,
When Solomon Kane went forth again and no man knew his road.
They glimpsed him etched against the moon, where clouds on hilltop thinned;
They heard an eery echoed call that whistled down the wind.


Footnotes: The adventures to which Solomon Kane refers are from the following Robert E Howard tales:

[1] The Moon of Skulls
[2] Red Shadows
[3] The Hills of the Dead
[4] The Footfalls Within
[5] Wings in the Night