DVD Review: Pumping Iron
Available on BluRay for the first time, Pumping Iron is a 1977 bodybuilding documentary that pretty much introduced the world to Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’ve never seen it before, so with the BluRay release I figured it would be good to check out. Unfortunately it is decidedly tedious and annoying, but in a bizarre way, Pumping Iron is still fascinating viewing.
The whole thing seems staged to some degree, and has more of a focus on individuals rather than the actual bodybuilding. The main character of course is Schwarzenegger, who was just twenty-eight at the time, but already has a huge ego, and tonnes of charisma. Schwarzenegger even compares getting ‘pumped’ to an orgasm, in a slightly uncomfortable disclosure that lasts a few minutes.
Arnold isn’t the only bodybuilder featured Lou Ferrigno and Mike Katz are also key figures, but Schwarzenegger towers over everyone, in size and presence. While everyone else is busy just trying to keep themselves focused on the Mr. Olympia competition, Schwarzenegger is busy playing mind games, one-upping them in workouts, and smiling. Always bloody smiling. Arnold’s main target is Lou Ferrigno, and it’s the highlight of Pumping Iron when we get to witness Swarzenegger getting into his head during breakfast and essentially taking control of his destiny. He walks away from Ferrigno having planted the seed that the Mr. Olympia title already belongs to Arnold.
Lou Ferrigno probably best known for his role in The Incredible Hulk TV series is the character you’ll be cheering for in Pumping Iron, and whilst Schwarzenegger towers above everyone, his cocky attitude makes him the villain in this documentary and may just well colour your view of him.