It’s 3 p.m.! Let The A.V. Club briefly make use of the waning hours of your productivity with some pop culture ephemera pulled from the depths of YouTube.
Movie commentary tracks are mostly useless. They straddle the line between “making of” documentary and just watching the film you’re sitting down to watch. They’re not quite one and not quite the other. If, for this very sound reason, you’ve skipped most commentary tracks, though, you may have missed a few of the rare instances where a bonus feature becomes actual art.
We’re talking, of course, about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approach to the format.
The crown jewel of the bodybuilder/actor/politician’s work in the medium is found in the home release of Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, a film that only becomes interesting when Schwarzenegger rambles all over it. The good Samaritan who runs the Down Chunder YouTube channel has compiled a cut of the best moments from the commentary, helpfully providing a three and a half minute window into the mind of the square-jawed action movie icon.
One of Schwarzenegger’s favorite modes of commentary is simply talking about what he liked from the movie. For Rise Of The Machines, it’s a scene where a truck with a crane attached to it does, in the actor’s parlance, “wheelies” by skidding around and tilting up on its front tires. Like Daniel Day-Lewis in the thick of filming, Schwarzenegger also refuses to acknowledge the separation between himself and his role. While watching footage he delights in moments where his robotic character approaches a thick marble wall and “[punches] through with ease” or is attacked by a woman who “shoots me right in the mouth.”
Also revealing and less endearing are the moments where he discusses women, like when Rise of the Machines co-star Kristanna Loken is introduced to the movie naked, as is tradition for Terminators. “I said to myself, well, this is great because now we have something different,” he explains. “They don’t just have to see my naked body arriving every time when I come back from the future to the present time. Let’s have a sexy girl for a change ... with a sexy body and just a knock-out ten figure and great physical appearance and beautiful face.”
He’s also in admiration of a scene where Loken’s Terminator enlarges her breasts at will because it, in his mind, gave women in the audience the potent fantasy of being able to do something similar. “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could play both sides, y’know, sometimes even simultaneously?” he imagines a real woman wondering.
Lastly, we have Schwarzenegger working himself into a frenzy over his own nude scene, imagining, again, an audience that’s extraordinarily happy to see that, even in 2003, the actor still looks very muscular when naked. For a few moments, Schwarzenegger seems to lose track of himself, recounting his bodybuilding awards and conjuring up viewers who enter every new Terminator movie wondering if we’ll ever again reach the lofty cinematic heights of when Schwarzenegger “showed his butt” and “even ... something in front” in the original movie.
While Rise of the Machines is Schwarzenegger’s best commentary track to date, his work on Total Recall and Conan The Barbarian is no “48% body fat, scrawny little bastard” either.
Joined by Paul Verhoeven for Recall, we get to hear more thoughts about women (“She has three breasts, huh? That’s the one with the three breasts”) and favorite scenes (“this scene is unbelievable because my frustration about this taxi cab does not understand where I want to go!”).
And, when chatting with John Milius about Conan ... well, we’re given a few more nuggets of wisdom, like the observation that “I was getting laid a lot in this movie. It was amazing.”
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