'Arnold' review: Netflix docuseries chronicles Schwarzenegger's success story

Three-part docu delves into his bodybuilder era, film star era and political career


Netflix's latest documentary series Arnold unveils the remarkable journey of a man who surpassed boundaries and emerged as a symbol of leadership. Through a flawless combination of narrative, candid interviews, and a sprinkle of nostalgic charm, this documentary transports audiences on an exciting expedition, tracing Arnold Schwarzenegger's journey from the rural landscapes of Austria to the pinnacle of the American dream.

Released on June 7 on Netflix, the series consists of three episodes with a run-time of an hour each. All three episodes of Arnold devotedly focus on one phase of his career at a time namely his incredible bodybuilder era, film star era and his political career.

The series takes off by providing a glimpse into Schwarzenegger's early years, offering a vivid portrayal of his modest beginnings and the determination that propelled him forward. There is a swift breeze of nostalgia while he recollects his origin, family and parts of his childhood. As we navigate through the challenging terrain of his teenage years, we witness the unyielding spirit of a youngster who refused to settle for ordinary.

Through candid interviews, Arnold acquaints us with a vibrant array of individuals who played significant roles in Schwarzenegger's life. From steadfast friends to formidable adversaries, and from esteemed co-stars to perceptive observers, their firsthand accounts intertwine to create a vibrant tapestry that emphasises the true essence of his remarkable journey. The original clippings of Schwarzenegger from the media gives more of a realistic touch to the series.

There is extensive light on director James Cameron’s experience with Schwarzenegger along with titbits of the challenges the latter faced in convincing filmmakers and viewers of of his acting talents. Keeping aside all of his professional life, the series has also covered his personal life including his marriage to Maria Shriver, who was the niece of John F. Kennedy, which kept Schwarzenegger amid conversations regarding politics. His own prior interest in the matter later led to the next point in his career. He himself has spoken about the breakdowns he faced in his personal life and how he felt guilty, not being able to be a capable family man because of his political responsibilities.

Born in Austria, Schwarzenegger relocated to the United States in the late 1960s. He initially made a name for himself in the arena of bodybuilding before transitioning to Hollywood, where he achieved stardom in the entertainment industry. Some of his most renowned films include Conan the Barbarian, The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Commando, The Running Man, Predator, among others. Additionally, Schwarzenegger had a prosperous political career, serving as the Governor of California from 2003 to 2011. The series features Schwarzenegger, also known as the Austrian Oak, speaking openly about his tumultuous life and the obstacles he faced.

Schwarzenegger also addresses on screen the controversies and accusations brought up against him during his reign. For instance, during his race for Governor of California in 2003, the action-movie star faced allegations of inappropriate physical contact without consent from six women, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. This incident became widely known as "Gropegate." Addressing this, Schwarzenegger spoke about how 'everyone makes mistakes' in their young age and how we need to pass through it. But he reverted to the accusation saying it was completely consensual. He also spoke about how he had an affair with his housekeeper long back and fathered a son whom he secretly brought up in the same house. During a family counselling session, he confessed the same to his wife—this late led to their divorce that hogged international headlines. 

Through the lens of this series, both the audience and the titan Schwarzenegger himself got a chance to look back at the life he journeyed.

'Arnold' is currently streaming on Netflix