Total Entertainment

first_imgThe first film Arnold Schwarzenegger ever saw was Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan. “The idea that a human could swing from tree to tree and talk to lions and chimpanzees was fascinating… I thought that was a good life,” Arnie writes about the experience as a boy growing up in the Austrian town of Graz.He never swung from tree to tree, nor did he talk to the chimps, but the incident may have shaped his quest to become an iconic film star. The “good life”, as Schwarzenegger later writes, automatically translated to America and American movies for a little boy growing up in post-World War II Graz, a place fraught with terror because “every time Russia and America argued about anything we felt we were doomed”.The early pages of Arnie’s autobiography are full of such sweet random reminiscences, which should make it a must-buy for true-blue fans dying to know the man behind the phenomenon. These trips of nostalgia, though, would seem like a stark contrast to all that has kept him in the news lately.Like every autobiography, the scandalous is either underplayed or ignored. The two-time California ‘Governator’ goes slow on two-timing details that wife Maria Shriver charged him with and that led to divorce proceedings for the couple a while back.”Secrecy is a part of me,” he writes. Selective secrecy is a part of any autobiography, we know.The things Arnie does choose to talk about however are written in a lucid style often mixed with wit. “Nobody wanted a war. Our interest was more in the girls,” he reveals.advertisementThe dry humour pervades as he recalls how the producers of his Hollywood break, Hercules in New York, suggested he change his name to Arnold Strong because Schwarzenegger was “a ludicrous name”. A restaurant episode from his early days in America as a young man reveals his gaffes with the English language. He ordered for “garbage” when he meant cabbage.Peter Petre, Schwarzenegger’s co-writer of what the actor calls ‘My Unbelievably True Life Story’, has done a good job in structuring the text. If the idea was to come out with selective revelations, Petre does well to cross over smoothly from one episode in his subject’s life to the next without making the omissions too glaring.Arnold Schwarzenegger seen during one of his election campaignsThe focus on presenting Schwarzenegger as a picture-perfect celebrity perhaps has logic. He is a public figure with an illustrious political life. More than engage in a tell-all exercise and scandalise, maybe he wanted to inspire fans with only positivity. This idea would seem in sync with what he writes at one point: “Every time I meet a great person … I try to ask how they made good and to figure out the angle that has worked for them.”Tracking the mind of a celebrity often gives you a picture on what made him successful. In Arnie’s case, you gather the secret is two-fold. First, he has an innate knack of making money. Second, there’s his appreciation for intelligence.Early in the book, we learn how Balloon Belly – as Arnie was called in his boyhood days – always had a head for business. He would sell ice-cream at a public park as a kid in Graz (“my first entrepreneurial venture”) to raise money for watching films, just as much later as a budding bodybuilder/trainer in the US he ensured his Arnold Schwarzenegger Fitness Booklets sold well by throwing in free AS accessories.The second key to his success comes out in the pages where he discusses his inspiration, ‘Mr Austria’ Kurt Marnul. Glancing through the sports pages of a newspaper, he saw a photo of Marnul for the first time. “I felt inspired by the guy’s achievement,” Arnie writes. “But what really struck me was that he was wearing glasses. … I came away fascinated that a man could be both smart and powerful.”Running into nearly 600 pages, the book has Arnie talking of a lot of things – his first love, his frenzy for gymming by the time he was 15 and how his habit of pasting posters of “naked bodybuilders” in his room made his mother seriously doubt his sexual orientation.In a delightful chapter he recounts how he was punished at an Army camp where he drove tanks for running away to participate in the Junior Mr Europe contest (which he actually won). Or how, by the time he was 18, magazines were describing him as “the Austrian kid who was 18 years old with 19-inch biceps”. His encounters with Hollywood greats such as Jack Nicholson and Clint Eastwood also make for a good read.advertisementThe book has the essential add-ons. There are ample bodybuilding tips and details for aficionados besides rare pictures that give it collector’s value.Total Recall, named after one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biggest box-office hits, is pretty much what all autobiographies always are: part justification of wrongdoings, part glorification of achievements, part sentimentalising of the good ol’ days, and fully readied to regale the fans.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *