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Fun and Fitness: Governator shows how to Pump Iron

Rick Melo | Interrobang | Sports | April 10th, 2006



There's something about a little documentary called Pumping Iron that puts a smile on my face every time I watch it. Maybe it's because the gentlemen who star in it aren't so little themselves. Any film that showcases the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno ensures there's no room for littleness. The end result is a little body building documentary that turned into a huge success which helped transcend the sport of body building.

The film was shot in 1975 and it focuses on a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. Think Arnold before he did all the 80's action block busters and became the current Governor of California. Yep, you got it, a twenty-something Austrian guy with a really bad accent and a whole lot of muscle.

The film kick starts with a scene of Arnold in a ballet studio alongside his best friend Franco Columbo, who is one of the films body building stars. The ballet instructor is seen demonstrating graceful movements as the two beasts do their best to mimic her. It's not until later on in the film that viewers realize why they're even taking part in such hilarity.

The documentary's plot focuses on the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest in Pretoria, South Africa and the events leading up to it. Arnold, the protagonist, is the reigning five time Mr. Olympia. He constantly pokes fun at his fellow gym mates and competitors, fully knowing that he is the best in the world. Arnold exudes the epitome of confidence throughout the duration of the film. He reeks of cocky attitude and gives us some of the best one liners. The man is non-stop antics from beginning to end.

The film's antagonist is Lou Ferrigno who is better known for portraying the Incredible Hulk in the seventies television show. He is considerably larger then Arnold, and the film gives us the impression that he is Arnold's first serious threat since his Olympia streak began. A memorable scene shows Lou training in his local gym; everyone in the gym is perplexed by this monster and completely stops what their doing to witness him get to work. Everyone cheers Lou on as he does a set of shoulder presses and screams “ARNOLD!” with each and every rep. This elevates the viewer's anticipation as to who the hell is going to be crowned the world's best body builder.

After much build up, we get to the climatic Mr. Olympia Contest itself. Many of the films stars are seen “duking it out” in the different weight divisions for the chance to compete for the overall Mr. Olympia title. Even moments before heading on stage, Arnold messes with Lou's head, insisting that he is competing for second place. The viewer can't help but wonder if Arnold is the actual villain of the film, rather then Big Lou. As for who actually takes the title, I'll leave that for those of you who haven't seen it to find out.

This documentary isn't for everyone, but it definitely has something to offer for everyone. Whether its body building, fierce competitiveness, comradery, humour, or a motivational watch to get you ‘pumped' up for your own sport of interest, its all in there. It also gives you an in depth look at Arnold's uncanny work ethic and ambition. You clearly see how driven he was at such a young age. His co-stars laugh when he tells them he wants to become a movie star, and get into politics once he retires from body building. Fast forward 30 years; after multiple multi million dollar movies, it looks like the “Governator” is having the last laugh.
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