A plan to build an 80ft statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator guise in his home town has been revived despite the actor regarding it as a waste of money.
Councillors in Graz, Austria, first proposed putting up the statue in a park last year but shelved the plan after Schwarzenegger asked for the Â£3.5 million earmarked for it to be donated to a children’s charity instead.
Opponents also felt that the steel statue of the futuristic cyborg killer would be out of keeping with the medieval centre, dwarfing existing statues of Mozart and Emperor Franz Joseph.
Now that the Hollywood star is governor of California, however, the giant Terminator – as depicted by Mr Schwarzenegger in the second film in the series – has been embraced as a definite tourist attraction.
“Schwarzenegger is, after all, our biggest cultural export,” said Herwig Hoeller of the Stadtpark Forum, consultants hired to improve the image of Graz, the second biggest city in Austria.
Mr Hoeller, the author of an 80-page study entitled Project for a Terminator Monument, believes that the statue will revitalise tourism. “It’s time we had something new,” he said. “After looking at all the arguments, the conclusion was that it would be a major advantage for Graz to show its links with Schwarzenegger.”
Although Graz already boasts a football stadium named after Schwarzenegger, Mr Hoeller argues that it was named in honour of his sporting achievements – the actor is a former Mr Universe. “The city must also salute his film career,” he said.
Despite the likely appeal of a Terminator statue, detractors have argued that it would destroy the charm of Graz. Its narrow cobbled streets and medieval houses make it one of Europe’s best-preserved old city centres. The town was awarded World Cultural Heritage status by Unesco in 1999.
One prominent objector, Walter Maier, a businessman, conceded that the statue would attract visitors but said that it would lead to the “cheap Disneyfication of a beautiful Austrian town”.
If the proposal wins approval by the Graz authorities, Mr Hoeller said the statue should be built by next summer.
As originally posted on http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/12/14/warni14.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/12/14/ixworld.html