The personal development of Arnold Schwarzenegger and how he changed from a killing machine to a family man with moral values

Seminar Paper, 2005

12 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Main Part

3. Conclusion

4. Bibliography

1. Introduction

Christian Metz stated that a film is difficult to explain because it is easy to understand. (qtd. in Buckland & Elsaesser: 1). I will analyse the film Collateral Damage, directed by Andrew Davis, in terms of its context and how it is portrayed technically. My aim is to show Arnold Schwarzenegger’s development, how Collateral Damages represents a turning point in the history of action movies Arnold took part in, and how he has changed from a muscle shirt wearing daredevil and killing machine to a family man with moral values. Therefore, I will start to look at a couple of important action movies in which Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a leading role and after that, I will compare the differences of the former Arnold and the Arnold we see in Collateral Damage. To realise this, I will focus on Schwarzenegger’s behaviour and the way, Andrew Davis represents the fire-fighter and his emotions. In the end, I will give a short conclusion regarding Arnold’s rise from rags to riches and how he represents an irreplaceable icon not only in the history of action movies during the last three decades.

Everybody knows the Australian guy ‘Arnie’ alias Arnold Schwarzenegger. The first role in the movie Hercules in New York owes Arnold his career as a bodybuilder and his enormous size. Released in 1970, Arnold – at this time known as Arnold Strong – plays a mythological toga clad Hercules. Arnold takes part in a weight-lifting competition; he becomes a wrestler, rides his chariot through Times Square, descends into hell and gets mixed up with gangsters. In contrast to Collateral Damage, Arthur Allan Seidelman, the director of Hercules in New York, focuses on Schwarzenegger’s muscle mass.

In 1982, John Milius creates the fantasy action movie Conan the Barbarian. Here, Arnold portrays a bulldog and beefy giant who survives as sole human the strain of bondage. Conan in the role of an invincible gladiator and snake killer, sweetened by two fisted action, spectacular fighting scenes and amours turn Arnold into the James Bond of the Middle Ages. In the first third of the film, Conan knocks out a camel with an aimed bash (0:38:02). His cruelty peaks out when he decollates Thulsa in front of his followers and raises his head like a trophy. Unlike Collateral Damage, Arnold takes much pleasure in fights and he seems to be a little bit sadistic at this time.

His most famous role is storied when Arnold portrays the Terminator in the homonymous science fiction action movie in 1984. In this movie, Schwarzenegger plays a futuristic indestructible cyborg that is sent back to the future to 1984 to eliminate the future unborn son of Sarah Connor and that kills without fear, without love and without mercy. Malevolent violence is shown throughout the movie and his masculine charisma predestines him to a classical hero in the world of the action movies which he coins sustainable. A first big development in relation to the Arnold we know today is recognizable in Predator (1987), because Schwarzenegger does not kill innocent people any more. In this movie, Arnold plays Dutch, a recklessly daring major and cigar smoking jungle fighter and is personated as the best of the best. In this science-fiction thriller, Dutch has to fight against a hideous alien creature that is armed with futuristic weapons; in the end, he manages to kill the beast as sole survivor of his team. James Cameron finalizes Terminator 2 in 1991 and Arnold – in the role of the Terminator T-800 – demonstrates another time what he stands for: rough and merciless action. In the sequel of Terminator 1, Arnold is not exclusively a killing machine any more. His mission is to protect a rebellious teenager which represents another development, since Arnold’s character is furnished with more qualities apart from just being an emotionless hardliner. In the 1996 released movie Eraser by Chuck Russell, we can see Arnold as a tough elite federal marshal who can survive nail bombs and attacks by voracious crocodiles. Acting as an eraser of the government’s witness-protection program, he has to use his brain – at least more than in his previous action movies.

The biggest shift in respect of arbitrary killing scenes and emotions shown by Arnold (apart from a couple of comedy movies and documentaries such as “The Last Party” or “Feed”, he took part in) occurs in Collateral Damage, directed by Andrew Davis. This movie is an energetic revenge action thriller, which pits the aging action star Arnold Schwarzenegger (Gordy Brewer) in the role of a normal fire-fighter and family man against Cliff Curtis (Claudio ‘El Lobo’ Perrini) who plays a radical and destructive Columbian guerrilla terrorist. Gordy witnesses the killing of his beloved wife Anna and his young innocent son Matt, caused by the terrorist’s bombing in a crowded cafe in Los Angeles, next to the Columbian embassy. The planned targets are American intelligent agents and members of the Columbian consulate. Warner Bros. Entertainment wrote that “Gordy's wife and child are considered ‘collateral damage’, innocent people who lost their lives for being in the wrong place at the wrong time” (par. 1).

Filled with anger, Gordy decides to take vengeance upon the rebel leader in Columbia and infiltrates the terrorist’s remote jungle compound – which is mainly controlled by guerrilla fighters led by Claudio Perrini – despite the fact that the CIA and FBI officials scrutinize him all the time. With some help from Sean Armstrong (Turturro), an insider to the guerrilla fighters, he manages to get closer to Claudio by getting inside Felix Ramirez’s homestead. In comparison with his prior action movies, Arnold does not make use of any violence to fulfil his aim.


Excerpt out of 12 pages


The personal development of Arnold Schwarzenegger and how he changed from a killing machine to a family man with moral values
University of Freiburg
Proseminar (Terrorism in Hollywood Movies)
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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393 KB
Arnold, Schwarzenegger, Proseminar, Hollywood, Movies)
Quote paper
Dominik Lorenz (Author), 2005, The personal development of Arnold Schwarzenegger and how he changed from a killing machine to a family man with moral values , Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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