Red Sonja


1h 28m 1985
Red Sonja

Brief Synopsis

A woman seeks revenge on the evil queen by stealing her magic orb.

Film Details

Also Known As
Barbarernas hämnd
MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
Adventure
Fantasy
Release Date
1985
Production Company
Arco; Cinesound Effects Library Ltd; De Laurentiis Company; Famous Films Productions; International Recording Corporation; Kiyoshi Yamazaki; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.; Metrocolor; Studio Forum; Universal Clearances; Van Der Veer Photo Effects
Distribution Company
Columbia-Emi-Warner; MGM Distribution Company; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.; Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m

Synopsis

In a medeival world of woman warriors, a swordmistress seeks to avenge the death of her sister with the help of a strongly-built he-man.

Crew

Cesare Allione

Camera Operator

Emanuela Alteri

Wardrobe Painter

Franco Antonelli

Wardrobe Coordinator

Vic Armstrong

Supervisor

Colin Arthur

Other

Alvaro Belsole

Chief Constructor

Derek G Brechin

Sound Editor Assistant

Giuseppe Cancellara

Other

Rino Carboni

Creative Makeup

Giacomo Calo Carducci

Set Dresser

Thomas Casterline

Wardrobe Master

Francesco Cinieri

Casting (Rome)

Cesare D'amico

Music Editor

Gioncarlo De Leonardis

Hair

Emilio Ruiz Del Rio

Foreground Miniatures

Roberto Delaurentiis

Location Manager

Giancarlo Deleonardis

Hairstyles

Marina Detiberiis

Production Office Coordinator (Rome)

Augusto Diamanti

Key Grip

Danilo Donati

Costumes

Danilo Donati

Production Designer

Syd Dutton

Matte Artist

Clive Exton

Screenwriter

Laura Fattori

Unit Manager

Maria Pia Federici

Other

Christian Ferry

Producer

Michel Ferry

Assistant Director

Giovanni Fiore Coltellacci

Camera Operator

Mario Francini

Production Assistant

George Macdonald Fraser

Screenwriter

Boni Fraulo

Property Master

Gianni Giovagnoni

Art Direction

Dennis Glouner

Matte Artist

Jay M Harding

Sound Rerecording Mixer

Paul Hochman

Sound Editor

Robert E Howard

From Character

A Michael Lieberman

Executive Producer

Juan Carlos Lopez

Action Unit Coordinator

Jose Lopez Rodero

Associate Producer

Jose Lopez Rodero

1st Assistant Director

Carlo Maggi

Other

Sergio Marcotulli

Sound Engineer

William Mccaughey

Sound Rerecording Mixer

Sergio Mioni

Stunt Coordinator

Ennio Morricone

Music

Barry Nolan

Titles

Barry A Nolan

Visual Effects

Barry Nolan

Additional Visual Effects

Barry A Nolan

Titles

Ray O'reilly

Sound Rerecording Mixer

Golda Offenheim

Production Office Coordinator (London)

Giorgio Pasqualini

Chief Lighting Technician

Enrico Pini

Transportation Manager

Johanna Ray

Casting (Los Angeles)

Ernie Reyes Sr.

Martial Arts Consultant

Francesca Roberti

Continuity

Giuseppe Rotunno

Dp/Cinematographer

Giuseppe Rotunno

Director Of Photography

Michael Russell

Unit Publicist

Mauro Sacripanti

Assistant Director

Penelope Shaw

Assistant Editor

Franca Silvi

Sound Editor

Stefano Spadoni

Production Assistant

Maude Spector

Casting (London)

John K. Stirber

Special Effects

Giulio Tamassy

Chief Sculptor

Franco Tamponi

Music Conductor

Bill Taylor

Matte Artist

Federico Tocci

Unit Manager

Giuseppe Tortora

Other

Lucio Trentini

Production Manager

Mario Tursi

Stills

Frank Urioste

Editor

Amelio Verona

Sound Mixer

Albert Whitlock

Other

Les Wiggins

Sound Editor Supervisor

Liberata Zocchi

Sound Editor Assistant

Maurice Zuberano

Storyboard Artist

Film Details

Also Known As
Barbarernas hämnd
MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
Adventure
Fantasy
Release Date
1985
Production Company
Arco; Cinesound Effects Library Ltd; De Laurentiis Company; Famous Films Productions; International Recording Corporation; Kiyoshi Yamazaki; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.; Metrocolor; Studio Forum; Universal Clearances; Van Der Veer Photo Effects
Distribution Company
Columbia-Emi-Warner; MGM Distribution Company; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.; Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m

Articles

Red Sonja


When director John Milius scored a major box office hit in the summer of 1982 with Conan the Barbarian and made a star of bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first major studio role, it was inevitable that the sequels and imitations would soon follow. Indeed, it only took two years for Schwarzenegger to wield his sword again for Conan the Destroyer (1984), a lighter, hokier, PG-rated adventure directed by Hollywood veteran Richard Fleischer. The New York-born filmmaker had proven to be versatile in a number of genres for almost every major studio, most famously with 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (1954) and a string of exceptional crime thrillers stretching from Violent Saturday (1955) through Mr. Majestyk (1974).

The Fleischer-Schwarzenegger pairing proved to be successful enough to inspire a second teaming for Red Sonja (1985), another sword and sorcery outing with the leading lady from the first Conan, Sandahl Bergman, enlisted to play the wicked Queen Gedren. However, the title character is actually played by Brigitte Nielsen, a Danish-born model discovered by the film's producer, Dino De Laurentiis. By the time the film opened, she was becoming a Hollywood press fixture thanks to her marriage to Sylvester Stallone and her colorful roles opposite him in Rocky IV (released later in 1985) and Cobra (1986). The marriage would prove to be short-lived and ended in 1987, though she continued to act regularly and enjoyed a fairly successful music career in Europe.

The filming of Red Sonja in Italy was widely promoted in that country as the revival of "Dinocitta", a.k.a. the Stabilimenti Cinematografici Pontini Studio just outside of Rome. The film provided a playground for legendary production designer Danilo Donati, with outdoor locations including an empty temple on the plains of Lazio. Stormy weather in the Abruzzo Mountains stalled shooting for a few days in October of 1984, but the film still came in almost on time and on budget when it wrapped in December. Despite plans to keep postproduction at Dinocitta, all work post shooting was shifted to MGM Studios in Hollywood so De Laurentiis could be present more during the process, and so that international buyers at the annual American Film Market would be closer to communicate with.

Like the Conan films, Red Sonja is based on the work of Texas-born fantasy writer Robert E. Howard. The Red Sonja character first appeared in "The Shadow of the Vulture," a 1934 short story (in which her name is spelled "Red Sonya"), and remained dormant until the popularity of the Conan comics brought her back in a new paperback epic, The Ring of Ikribu, in 1981, with five more books following. The character was inexplicably time hopped from the Ottoman Empire to the Hyborian Age of Conan the Barbarian fame in the process, a chance that was retained for the movie version.

The production of Red Sonja was intended to be a stepping stone in more barbarian-style adventures for Schwarzenegger, who was set to star in a third Conan film at the time. However, the rapidly growing cult popularity of another film he made in 1984, The Terminator, would steer his career in a different direction as a modern action and sci-fi figure. Also in the realm of unrealized possibilities, De Laurentiis was busy mounting the film Total Recall to be directed by David Cronenberg. Of course, the film ended up being made by Paul Verhoeven several years later with a very different flavor from what Cronenberg would have achieved. Interestingly, Fleischer was not the original choice for director Instead, De Laurentiis wanted iconoclastic animator Ralph Bakshi, who had shown an affinity for fantasy films with Wizards (1977), The Lord of the Rings (1978), and Fire and Ice (1983) to direct. Needless to say, the results would have been quite different.

The casting of Red Sonja proved to be a challenge for De Laurentiis, who offered the part to Bergman and even announced actress Eileen Davidson as the star in a 1984 trade item. The final cast is a colorful one including 12-year-old karate champ Ernie Reyes Jr., Italian exploitation fixture Janet Agren of The Gates of Hell (1980) fame, and burly character actor Paul L. Smith, who first made an impression in Midnight Express (1978) and went on to play Bluto in Robert Altman's Popeye (1980) and a hilarious red herring in Pieces (1983). Smith worked out at a gym three times a week prepping for the role and most famously displayed his increased strength on the Via Veneto when a Fiat weaving through traffic nearly hit him as he was crossing. Smith casually grabbed the car and turned it over, reportedly to much cheering from bystanders.

Upon its release, the MGM/UA film was given a hostile reception from critics, with Movieline dubbing it "stupefying, pitiful, tacky." However, like many '80s genre films, it has found a warmer audience with its strong aura of nostalgia. One aspect praised from the start is its rich score by none other than Ennio Morricone, who was coming off of his landmark work on Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America (1984). This marked his second foray into English-language sword and sorcery territory after Hundra (1982), whose star, Laurene Landon, was also in contention for this film's leading role at one point. The Morricone score has remained a favorite over the years, and at one point, its initial limited, rare CD release paired up with his score for Bloodline was one of the most valuable collector's items on the soundtrack market. By Nathaniel Thompson
Red Sonja

Red Sonja

When director John Milius scored a major box office hit in the summer of 1982 with Conan the Barbarian and made a star of bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first major studio role, it was inevitable that the sequels and imitations would soon follow. Indeed, it only took two years for Schwarzenegger to wield his sword again for Conan the Destroyer (1984), a lighter, hokier, PG-rated adventure directed by Hollywood veteran Richard Fleischer. The New York-born filmmaker had proven to be versatile in a number of genres for almost every major studio, most famously with 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (1954) and a string of exceptional crime thrillers stretching from Violent Saturday (1955) through Mr. Majestyk (1974). The Fleischer-Schwarzenegger pairing proved to be successful enough to inspire a second teaming for Red Sonja (1985), another sword and sorcery outing with the leading lady from the first Conan, Sandahl Bergman, enlisted to play the wicked Queen Gedren. However, the title character is actually played by Brigitte Nielsen, a Danish-born model discovered by the film's producer, Dino De Laurentiis. By the time the film opened, she was becoming a Hollywood press fixture thanks to her marriage to Sylvester Stallone and her colorful roles opposite him in Rocky IV (released later in 1985) and Cobra (1986). The marriage would prove to be short-lived and ended in 1987, though she continued to act regularly and enjoyed a fairly successful music career in Europe. The filming of Red Sonja in Italy was widely promoted in that country as the revival of "Dinocitta", a.k.a. the Stabilimenti Cinematografici Pontini Studio just outside of Rome. The film provided a playground for legendary production designer Danilo Donati, with outdoor locations including an empty temple on the plains of Lazio. Stormy weather in the Abruzzo Mountains stalled shooting for a few days in October of 1984, but the film still came in almost on time and on budget when it wrapped in December. Despite plans to keep postproduction at Dinocitta, all work post shooting was shifted to MGM Studios in Hollywood so De Laurentiis could be present more during the process, and so that international buyers at the annual American Film Market would be closer to communicate with. Like the Conan films, Red Sonja is based on the work of Texas-born fantasy writer Robert E. Howard. The Red Sonja character first appeared in "The Shadow of the Vulture," a 1934 short story (in which her name is spelled "Red Sonya"), and remained dormant until the popularity of the Conan comics brought her back in a new paperback epic, The Ring of Ikribu, in 1981, with five more books following. The character was inexplicably time hopped from the Ottoman Empire to the Hyborian Age of Conan the Barbarian fame in the process, a chance that was retained for the movie version. The production of Red Sonja was intended to be a stepping stone in more barbarian-style adventures for Schwarzenegger, who was set to star in a third Conan film at the time. However, the rapidly growing cult popularity of another film he made in 1984, The Terminator, would steer his career in a different direction as a modern action and sci-fi figure. Also in the realm of unrealized possibilities, De Laurentiis was busy mounting the film Total Recall to be directed by David Cronenberg. Of course, the film ended up being made by Paul Verhoeven several years later with a very different flavor from what Cronenberg would have achieved. Interestingly, Fleischer was not the original choice for director Instead, De Laurentiis wanted iconoclastic animator Ralph Bakshi, who had shown an affinity for fantasy films with Wizards (1977), The Lord of the Rings (1978), and Fire and Ice (1983) to direct. Needless to say, the results would have been quite different. The casting of Red Sonja proved to be a challenge for De Laurentiis, who offered the part to Bergman and even announced actress Eileen Davidson as the star in a 1984 trade item. The final cast is a colorful one including 12-year-old karate champ Ernie Reyes Jr., Italian exploitation fixture Janet Agren of The Gates of Hell (1980) fame, and burly character actor Paul L. Smith, who first made an impression in Midnight Express (1978) and went on to play Bluto in Robert Altman's Popeye (1980) and a hilarious red herring in Pieces (1983). Smith worked out at a gym three times a week prepping for the role and most famously displayed his increased strength on the Via Veneto when a Fiat weaving through traffic nearly hit him as he was crossing. Smith casually grabbed the car and turned it over, reportedly to much cheering from bystanders. Upon its release, the MGM/UA film was given a hostile reception from critics, with Movieline dubbing it "stupefying, pitiful, tacky." However, like many '80s genre films, it has found a warmer audience with its strong aura of nostalgia. One aspect praised from the start is its rich score by none other than Ennio Morricone, who was coming off of his landmark work on Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America (1984). This marked his second foray into English-language sword and sorcery territory after Hundra (1982), whose star, Laurene Landon, was also in contention for this film's leading role at one point. The Morricone score has remained a favorite over the years, and at one point, its initial limited, rare CD release paired up with his score for Bloodline was one of the most valuable collector's items on the soundtrack market. By Nathaniel Thompson

Red Sonja on DVD


An established fan favorite of bad moviemaking, this sideways spinoff of the Conan Sword 'n Sorcery franchise is a lopsided show that wastes some top production talent on a feeble script. When posing with their shining blades Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brigitte Nielsen look like Frank Frazetta fantasy artwork come to life. But their acting is limited to appallingly bad line readings.

The character of "Red Sonja, She Devil of the Hyrkanian Steppes" was reportedly not originally part of Robert E. Howard's Hyborian tales; the red-haired master swordswoman teamed up with Conan much later in Marvel Comic books. Danish model Brigitte Nielsen was cast as Red Sonja when Sandahl Bergman rejected the part; Arnold's character was written into the script at the last minute. When Red Sonja reached the theaters, Schwarzenegger was reportedly irked to find that the producers had given top billing to his secondary part in order to capitalize on his name.

The story begins with a confusingly edited flashback to childhood scenes of Red Sonja losing her family to the evil Queen Gedren (Sandahl Bergman). In the first of several repetitious massacres, Gedren throws a group of Amazon priestesses into a bottomless pit and steals their magical talisman, a glowing green orb. Tipped off by her dying sister, Red Sonja swears vengeance. She's assisted by young Prince Tarn (Ernie Reyes Jr.), a brat tended by the amiable servant Falkon (Paul Smith, Bluto in Robert Altman's Popeye). Tagging along at a distance is the adventurer prince Kalidor (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Even for the juvenile action crowd this is a limp revenge tale. Red Sonja spends too much screen time playing babysitter to the annoying child Prince. Frequent cutaways to Queen Gedren show her engaged in generic evil monarch behavior, refusing to relinquish the earthquake-generating talisman even though it threatens to shake her castle to rubble. Character dynamics between Brigitte and Arnold never advance farther than swapping laugh-out-loud bad dialogue. She: "No man may have me, unless he's beaten me in a fair fight." He: "So, the only man that can have you, is one who's trying to kill you. That's logic."

Courting the kiddie audience, the movie keeps blood to a minimum with only one arm and one head severed in all the sword slashing. There's no sex beyond Sonja's one Fredericks of Hyrkania costume. Blades clang loudly but the fight choreography is uninteresting. Arnold and Brigitte's fencing style has a lot in common with bodybuilder posing, forming static tableaux that evoke classic Frazetta imagery. Musclebound Schwarzenegger has difficulty slinging his blade around freely, and scores of anonymous soldiers invariably take turns to attack him rather than charge all at once. A skilled fencer like Rob Roy's Tim Roth would make mincemeat of these pretenders.

Red Sonja has flawless lensing from Giuseppe Rotunno and impressive art direction by Danilo Donati, but the film looks like a collection of handsome sets and locations waiting for a worthy story. Richard Fleischer's direction isn't any better than his lackluster efforts for the first Conan sequel, Conan the Destroyer. At one point our heroes creep along a narrow ledge until a pullback reveals that they could simply walk to where they want to go. They do battle with a mechanical snake that isn't up to Carlo Rambaldi standards, especially when it spins wildly, as if attached to the same silly rotating rig used by rubber crocodiles in the classic MGM Tarzan movies. Other elaborate effects constructions aren't fully exploited. Accompanied by her pet spider, evil Queen Gedren views a large television powered by an alchemist's bubbling chemistry set. It's used once and never seen again.

When a film's star has limited acting experience, the standard wisdom is to compensate by surrounding them with colorful supporting players of the kind that Red Sonja sorely lacks. Beautiful Brigitte Nielsen just isn't up to the task of carrying scenes on her own. The only accomplished actor in sight is the always-exceptional Ronald Lacey (Raiders of the Lost Ark). When he says a line, it at least sounds like acting. The rest of the picture plays as if the actors are dry-rehearsing their dialogue while blocking scenes. Dramatically, it's no better than the average episode of the animated He-Man: Masters of the Universe cartoon show - most of the enjoyment in Red Sonja comes from laughing at the gaudy badness of it all.

Warners' DVD of Red Sonja presents this noisy action show in the best possible light. The sparkling transfer is colorful and rock-solid, showing off the beautiful locations near Rome in full enhanced widescreen. Ennio Morricone's surprisingly dull score is well served by the clear, mono soundtrack. Sword and sorcery fans will enjoy Danilo Donati's many outrageously garish costumes for various footsoldiers and henchmen. Not counting Arnold's bulging biceps, the art designs are surely the high point of the picture.

For more information about Red Sonja, visit Warner Video. To order Red Sonja, go to TCM Shopping.

By Glenn Erickson

Red Sonja on DVD

An established fan favorite of bad moviemaking, this sideways spinoff of the Conan Sword 'n Sorcery franchise is a lopsided show that wastes some top production talent on a feeble script. When posing with their shining blades Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brigitte Nielsen look like Frank Frazetta fantasy artwork come to life. But their acting is limited to appallingly bad line readings. The character of "Red Sonja, She Devil of the Hyrkanian Steppes" was reportedly not originally part of Robert E. Howard's Hyborian tales; the red-haired master swordswoman teamed up with Conan much later in Marvel Comic books. Danish model Brigitte Nielsen was cast as Red Sonja when Sandahl Bergman rejected the part; Arnold's character was written into the script at the last minute. When Red Sonja reached the theaters, Schwarzenegger was reportedly irked to find that the producers had given top billing to his secondary part in order to capitalize on his name. The story begins with a confusingly edited flashback to childhood scenes of Red Sonja losing her family to the evil Queen Gedren (Sandahl Bergman). In the first of several repetitious massacres, Gedren throws a group of Amazon priestesses into a bottomless pit and steals their magical talisman, a glowing green orb. Tipped off by her dying sister, Red Sonja swears vengeance. She's assisted by young Prince Tarn (Ernie Reyes Jr.), a brat tended by the amiable servant Falkon (Paul Smith, Bluto in Robert Altman's Popeye). Tagging along at a distance is the adventurer prince Kalidor (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Even for the juvenile action crowd this is a limp revenge tale. Red Sonja spends too much screen time playing babysitter to the annoying child Prince. Frequent cutaways to Queen Gedren show her engaged in generic evil monarch behavior, refusing to relinquish the earthquake-generating talisman even though it threatens to shake her castle to rubble. Character dynamics between Brigitte and Arnold never advance farther than swapping laugh-out-loud bad dialogue. She: "No man may have me, unless he's beaten me in a fair fight." He: "So, the only man that can have you, is one who's trying to kill you. That's logic." Courting the kiddie audience, the movie keeps blood to a minimum with only one arm and one head severed in all the sword slashing. There's no sex beyond Sonja's one Fredericks of Hyrkania costume. Blades clang loudly but the fight choreography is uninteresting. Arnold and Brigitte's fencing style has a lot in common with bodybuilder posing, forming static tableaux that evoke classic Frazetta imagery. Musclebound Schwarzenegger has difficulty slinging his blade around freely, and scores of anonymous soldiers invariably take turns to attack him rather than charge all at once. A skilled fencer like Rob Roy's Tim Roth would make mincemeat of these pretenders. Red Sonja has flawless lensing from Giuseppe Rotunno and impressive art direction by Danilo Donati, but the film looks like a collection of handsome sets and locations waiting for a worthy story. Richard Fleischer's direction isn't any better than his lackluster efforts for the first Conan sequel, Conan the Destroyer. At one point our heroes creep along a narrow ledge until a pullback reveals that they could simply walk to where they want to go. They do battle with a mechanical snake that isn't up to Carlo Rambaldi standards, especially when it spins wildly, as if attached to the same silly rotating rig used by rubber crocodiles in the classic MGM Tarzan movies. Other elaborate effects constructions aren't fully exploited. Accompanied by her pet spider, evil Queen Gedren views a large television powered by an alchemist's bubbling chemistry set. It's used once and never seen again. When a film's star has limited acting experience, the standard wisdom is to compensate by surrounding them with colorful supporting players of the kind that Red Sonja sorely lacks. Beautiful Brigitte Nielsen just isn't up to the task of carrying scenes on her own. The only accomplished actor in sight is the always-exceptional Ronald Lacey (Raiders of the Lost Ark). When he says a line, it at least sounds like acting. The rest of the picture plays as if the actors are dry-rehearsing their dialogue while blocking scenes. Dramatically, it's no better than the average episode of the animated He-Man: Masters of the Universe cartoon show - most of the enjoyment in Red Sonja comes from laughing at the gaudy badness of it all. Warners' DVD of Red Sonja presents this noisy action show in the best possible light. The sparkling transfer is colorful and rock-solid, showing off the beautiful locations near Rome in full enhanced widescreen. Ennio Morricone's surprisingly dull score is well served by the clear, mono soundtrack. Sword and sorcery fans will enjoy Danilo Donati's many outrageously garish costumes for various footsoldiers and henchmen. Not counting Arnold's bulging biceps, the art designs are surely the high point of the picture. For more information about Red Sonja, visit Warner Video. To order Red Sonja, go to TCM Shopping. By Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer June 28, 1985

Technovision

Released in United States Summer June 28, 1985