Review: The German Maestro of Muscle, Wilfried Dubbels
If a man were to step out of a painting from one of the great masters, perhaps a Raphael canvas, and onto a bodybuilding DVD, he might be Wilfried Dubbels. Who is Wilfried Dubbels? Ah, if you haven’t heard of him—and not enough people have—you are missing something. Wilfried is a fine German bodybuilder from the mid and late 1970s, who carried the Reeves lineage modified by Zane-type seventies styling, with more than enough of his own originality to create a lasting impact among a too-small coterie of bodybuilding aficionados, who recognized the greatness of his physique and the pronouncement of an indelible style.
Though the direction and verdict of bodybuilding history has veered off elsewhere, appreciators of Dubbels remain, and owe Wayne Gallasch a double thanks, first for discovering, filming, and bringing to the attention of the bodybuilding world the German physique artist during the seventies, and second, for reprising this same artist in a DVD presentation in 2004.
The presentation includes extensive early footage, shot in the 1970s by Wayne, during the discovery period of Dubbels. The pose-fest is highlighted by the unmistakable style of Wilfried’s physique, his classic look and dynamic presentation. Long lines and dramatic flowing shots mark the maestro’s posing, with more than a glimpse of what would later become his unique, signature three-quarters front lat shots and his wide, sweeping, Reeves-Zane-Gironda kneeling, twisting, three-quarters back shots, the latter shots being more than mere homage, but like any gifted poser, fashioned and taken over to become his own.
The beauty of the work is, as usual, highlighted by the understated presentation evident in so much of Wayne Gallasch’s fine work: Gallasch and his camera allow and encourage Wilfried’s physique to eloquently speak for itself. There are sessions in the seventies in London and Germany; outdoors and studio, with some gym footage included. Throughout it all, you can see that Dubbels has what the great posers in bodybuilding all have: an ability to shine through with the unique self-expression that imprints not only on film, but in the viewer’s mind, that it is not a series of poses or muscle groups, but a unity, a totality, a master of bodybuilding holding court. If it were possible, the camera itself seems mesmerized by the Dubbels living, breathing, statuary in motion.
The DVD then moves into a segment where Wilfried talks with Wayne about some of the posing sessions and shows still shots from a prized magazine article in MuscleMag International, photographed in 1976 and published in 1977. Here, the spread largely shot in Canada by Bob Kennedy and published along with training and background information on Wilfried, in Kennedy’s magazine, shows Dubbels near his all-time peak as a bodybuilder. The 1976-1978 years for Wilfried bring his physique to fruition, his fusion of line, definition, proportion, balance, appropriate muscle mass, all converging to create the condition and resultant image that has come to represent the iconic Dubbels.
For the denouement, we have Wilfried in the present, at fifty-plus years old, looking vigorous and fit, with some shots of him working out in his home gym, and the highlight of the piece, Wilfried Dubbels posing nearly thirty years after the initial footage in the DVD. The superb condition is more than physique-time travel. Yes, the same grand, sweeping three-quarters back shots are there, with the signature presentation etched more deeply than ever by hardened, practiced definition hammered into those same classic lines. Allowing grudgingly for a slight amount of age, it is a landmark performance showing the stellar physique of a bodybuilder who has forged himself into an ongoing, breathing work of art.
The refrain throughout is the modest, measured conversational tones of Wilfried as he narrates without embellishment or without conceit some of his personal and physique history. There is a wonderful, almost casual epilogue that honors Wilfried which Wayne Gallasch has filmed, of present-day Wilfried going through his poses fully clothed, smiling as if coaxed to finally acknowledge that yes, he realizes he has achieved something remarkable.
“I never had big muscles,” he casually remarks at one point in his story, while the epiphany you are viewing on the screen makes you want to protest, “Well, maybe, but look!” And look we should at what he’s wrought, and at what Wayne Gallasch has wrought. It reminds you of the Bradley Steiner comment, that no work of art should ever be judged on size.
This DVD, does it capture the art? Yes! History? Yes. Preservation? This DVD is also a unique present as a testament to what Wilfried is now and bodybuilding might have been or could become. And more, Wayne Gallasch has created a unique work spanning not only time, but he and Wilfried Dubbels have conspired to step beyond time, to mark a bit of bodybuilding eternity.
By Greg Sushinsky
Copyright 2005, Greg Sushinsky. All Rights Reserved.
Steve Speyrer Review:
I just reviewed the extra footage of this DVD and was blown away! This footage is worth the price of the DVD alone. It's like getting two DVD's for one low price! Wilfried has always been one of my favorite bodybuilders and his physique gets better with age. I picked up on some fancy training techniques that Wilfried employes. Seeing is believing! If you love Wilfried and his type of physique then you have to get this DVD. Wilfried has the type of body that inspires people. The average person will want to train when seeing this. Especially bodybuilders that have given up training because they feel too old. Wilfried proves that it's never too late to get in shape and stay in shape and this DVD shows it!