Lawnmower Man in the spotlight again

Tornado Lawnmower

Just when it seemed that “The Lawnmower Man,” or Theunis Wessels as he is known in these parts, was out of the eye of the media, his photo recently turned up once more, this time on the silver screen.

Cecilia Wessels took two photos of the tornado, and then decided to take one more with her husband and the tornado to give their family in South Africa perspective of how far away the twister was, its size compared to her husband Theunis, and ultimately to prove to family that they were safe. Theunis had a list of chores to be completed and he wanted to finish before the busyness of swim schedules hit that weekend. Theunis was able to get the lawn finished, though as Cecilia says “Clearly the tornado was on a different schedule.” Those factors combined created the comical and surreal photo which unexpectedly caught the world’s attention – and seems to keep them coming back.

The film, which is called Vice, investigates Dick Cheney’s political rise, then role and decision making as Vice-President of the United States after 9/11. The producers of the film (a group which includes Brad Pitt and Will Ferrell) contacted the Wessels in the Fall of 2018 to ask if the image could be used in the film. At first Theunis and Cecilia did not believe the offer; that is until the official contract arrived.

The contract said very little about the purpose of the image in the film, as per company policy, but after watching it the Wessels can see that the image was “used to highlight the extent to which Dick Cheney stuck to his work/decision making roles as Vice President in a very scary moment in history, 9/11. This appears to be the main message numerous persons have mentioned to us, from soldiers who went to war, 9/11 fire-fighters, rescue staff, people who suffer from major medical/personal concerns; you have to stick to your work/job/ethics/personal convictions within moments [in life] that contain your storm.”

The film featuring our hometown tornado and Lawnmower Man was released in Canada on Christmas Day. The Wessels are so grateful for the connections that have been formed from this whole experience and hope that the friendships with people all over the world will last for a lifetime. Cecilia says that “this process has broadened not only our horizons but our perspectives, lives, everything” and thanks to the Kneehill Historical Society for their role in the parade and float which caught the eyes of the media.

Who knows where the Lawnmower Man will show up next…!