I’ve never been a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting.
To be fair, using the word ‘acting’ to describe his habit of standing woodenly in front of camera, moving stiffly from mark to mark, reciting lines in his heavy Austrian accent as if he doesn’t actually understand what he’s saying, is stretching the term slightly.
Comedy does not come naturally to him, as anyone who’s had to endure Jingle All The Way will attest.
When every organ in your body is gradually being poisoned by a noxious cocktail of goose fat, fermenting mincemeat and half a box of sticky, sickly sweet Famous Name liqueur chocolates, you do not need to sit through a degrading reconstruction of the consumerist treadmill you endured on the run-up to the ‘Big Day’, with the kind of appalling acting, violence and oversentimentality that only Hollywood or a primary school Nativity Play can bring.
Schwarzenegger’s strengths as an actor (and he must have some – his career has lasted for over thirty years) lie in more muscular roles. No matter what you think of the films – and if you’re not keen on glib, throw away quips, flying body parts and large explosions then don’t bother exploring the ‘Arnold Canon’ – he’s been most successful when fighting.
Actually, in my opinion, he’s been most successful when playing a robot in the Terminator films, where his odd vocal inflection, lack of subtle facial expression and stiff body movements make the most convincing portrayal of a metal man since Jack Haley in The Wizard of Oz.
It wasn’t his first movie appearance, but Schwarzenegger’s break out role was as Conan the Barbarian, where his large, unnaturally bumpy physique and long shiny wig did most of the acting. I don’t remember him giving much of a performance per se, but he didn’t really need to as we were totally convinced that a bunch muscled fighter who wore little else but an interesting selection of leather goods and fur underpants and lived in a quasi-Medieval, polystyrene landscape, would have little in the way of brain cells or emotional range.
Today’s Wednesday Word Tangle is
I remember being told the derivation of this word when I was studying Roman history with the O.U. It comes from the Ancient Greek word barbaros and is snobby Hellenic onomatopoeia ‒ a term high status Greeks used to belittle other races, whose languages apparently sounded to the educated ear like ‘bar-bar-bar’.
If Schwarzenegger is the most famous Barbarian, my favourite is Ghenghiz Cohen, or Cohen the Barbarian, the wonderfully fearless and exceptionally violent geriatric hero from Terry Pratchett’s Interesting Times and The Last Hero. He and his friends Mad Hamish, Truckle the Uncivil, Caleb the Ripper et al, steal hoards, rescue maidens and wind up the gods of the Discworld by trying to destroy their home, Dunmanifestin.
Who’d win in a fight? Always put your money on the stringy octogenarian with a penchant for diamond dentures.
Thanks always to Kat, the founder of W4W