Pumping Iron defined the genre of athletic documentary films in 1977, but also launched the budding career for a young man named Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film was directed and produced by George Butler with Robert Fiore and Jerome Gary. Charles Gaines and George Butler had collaboratively authored the book that inspired Pumping Iron. When the motion picture cane out, it was a film that unexpectedly shaped future documentaries greatly.
Pumping Iron is focused on the global sport of athletic bodybuilder. Most of the footage was shot during the IFBB competitions for Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia during the year 1975. The film documents approximately 100 days during these two major bodybuilding competitions. In the movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the primary contendor in line against Lou Ferrigno, the current holder of the Mr. Olympia title. There is stiff competition for these titles, let alone Arnold Schwarzenegger will become the holder of both titles.
Being a documentary, there are a number of segments that exhibit other famous bodybuilding giants of the time. Among these are Mike Katz and Franco Columbu. Bodybuilding enthusiasts will be excited to see other lesser known athletes like Serge Nubert, Ken Waller, and Ed Corney. Each have their own highlighted moments in brief scenes throughout Pumping Iron. For die hard fans of the bodybuilder sport, this is the must see movie. Pumping Iron also is unique, since the actual practices, rules, and structure of modern bodybuilding has changed so much since 1975. In this way, Pumping Iron represents the end of a classical era for athletics and bridges a gap for sports in the modern cinema.
Considering the worldwide box office success of Pumping Iron, it is interesting to note that it almost never was finished. The film budget ran out close to the end of the planned shooting schedule, but Arnold Schwarzenegger and other bodybuilders assisted in raising the necessary money to finish film production. Today the movie Pumping Iron stands as a testament to the sport of bodybuilding and the genre of athletic documentaries in film.