The ‘Gov­er­na­tor’ should re­tire to con­tem­plate his fu­ture in a mu­seum

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - FILM MCO. - TONY EARN­SHAW

YOU have to laugh: at 64, Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger has be­come a mu­seum piece.

Okay, that’s not quite true. His birth­place in the vil­lage of Thal, near Graz in Aus­tria, has be­come a mu­seum ded­i­cated to his life and ca­reer. And it has re­ceived the bless­ing of the man dubbed “the Aus­trian Oak”.

Sev­eral things made me tit­ter. One, Arnie was ap­par­ently born in the lo­cal hos­pi­tal, not the house that bears his name. Two, the mu­seum seems to be lit­tered with tat and some of the relics of his youth, like the dumb­bells he used as a teenager, posters, a replica of his desk as Cal­i­for­nia’s Repub­li­can gov­er­nor, a life-size fig­ure of Sch­warzeneg­ger in his prime, and his child­hood bed. Three, Sch­warzeneg­ger packed up and left Thal in 1966, aged 22. He headed west, for Amer­ica. By 1969 he was in the movies. Ad­mit­tedly Her­cules in New York (with a mus­cle­bound Arnie billed as “Arnold Strong”) wasn’t par­tic­u­larly classy en­ter­tain­ment but then that crit­i­cism could be lev­elled at most of his out­put.

What Sch­warzeneg­ger had was drive, am­bi­tion and guts. He set out to es­cape his mod­est roots and make it big. Amer­ica was his goal and that’s pre­cisely what he did. An ego twice the size of Jupiter helped him on his way, as did the five Mr Uni­verse ti­tles he col­lected en­route. By 1976 he was the premier body­builder on the planet.

Movies fol­lowed, with first the “thud and blun­der” Conan ad­ven­tures and then The Ter­mi­na­tor pro­pel­ling Sch­warzeneg­ger into the big time. He was never much of an ac­tor – and with his thick Aus­trian ac­cent he could barely be un­der­stood on screen – but he had size and pres­ence which was all ac­tion flicks asked of him. He en­joyed a decade of mega suc­cess be­fore Last Ac­tion Hero brought him down in 1993. His ca­reer never re­ally re­cov­ered and as he sought to em­brace sel­f­ref­er­en­tial spoofs and come­dies, so his po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions took cen­tre stage.

Of course Sch­warzeneg­ger’s ego meant he con­tin­ued to dab­ble in movies, no­tably in The Ex­pend­ables with Sylvester Stal­lone and Bruce Wil­lis. He also dal­lied with his house­keeper, sir­ing a son and ex­e­cut­ing his mar­riage in the process.

I bet that won’t be cov­ered by his new mu­seum. Sch­warzeneg­ger is now said to be eyeing up sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clud­ing an Ex­pend­ables se­quel and a new $30m ac­tion flick, Last Stand, in which he plays a small­town sher­iff at war with a rogue drugs lord.

Will 21st-cen­tury au­di­ences ac­cept a res­ur­rected Arnie? I suspect his time has passed. He could never match Stal­lone as a per­former and, though a year younger, looks older. Can he still hack it? I doubt it. Maybe he will be­come a fix­ture in his own mu­seum, tear­ing tick­ets and telling sto­ries about the time when, al­beit briefly, he ruled the world (of cin­ema).

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