Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Film: Taxidermia

I watched Taxidermia last night.

I am going to look back at this post and wish I had written better about this film.

I am not a cinema scholar, film buff, or movie critic, but this was one of the most disturbing, incredible films I have ever seen (of course, I haven't seen all of David Lynch's work either). After seeing the trailer(s), I knew it wasn’t a B film, a cheesy low-budget shock fest. Plus, with Amon Tobin creating the perfect atmospheric soundtrack, I knew this was high quality.

Taxidermia is based on the novels of Lajos Parti-Nagy, whose work I have not been able to find in English, unfortunately. György Pálfi gave Lajos a nod in the film by naming the taxidermist after him. I hope this film prompts the translation of his work into English sometime soon.

Taxidermia is this: Three stories. Three generations. Three men. One bizarre and shocking universe. György Pálfi's grotesque tale of three generations of men, including an obese speed eater, an embalmer of gigantic cats, and a man who shoots fire out of his penis. And it is much more. Here is the director's conception of the story.



Taxidermia first got my attention a couple years ago, after I had finished a short story entitled MEMORABILIA, about a dealer of celebrity body parts trying to win his wife back. My story deals with the embalming of celebrity body parts to buy and sell and put on display like religious relics, and explores notions of consumption, excess, and the specter of (im)mortality. So I’ve been waiting to see this film for a long time, both for the film itself and to see how these ideas were approached in another medium.

While not overly shocking, Taxidermia had some moments that were something new to see actually done in a film (at least new to me), and this is mostly because it’s something that would never survive the cutting room of an American film.

Taxidermia will never be released in the United States of America, not without substantial cuts, which, of course, would make it a different film.

Taxidermia should be released in America, at least on DVD. The story of three generations of obsessed, insane, passively out-of-control, lonely men should have its day in the US. Taxidermia is about hunger in all of its forms and all of its desired objects, and how that hunger, when extreme, destroys.

I would describe some of the scenes, but I don’t want to spoil anything for those who are going to watch it, and I will probably misrepresent the film as a whole. It would be easy to tell about the nudity, the fire shooting from a man’s penis, the embalmed fetus, the man weighing upwards of 1,000 pounds, the profuse induced vomiting—but that leaves out the moments of extreme loneliness and desire and even tenderness. I’m sure some will not like this film: those with weak stomachs, those who cannot see beyond the surface of things, etc. The images and events will strike some as gratuitous, shock for its own sake, and disgusting, sure. But I have a hard time believing that anyone who takes time to think about the film will find the experience pointless or meaningless. Extreme things happen in Taxidermia, but behind them all director György Pálfi shows human beings, not simply pigs and pieces of meat.

So, yes, I recommend Taxidermia very highly, in whatever way you can get your hands and eyes on it. I hope this film finds the US audience it deserves, an audience which is probably unaware that it even exists. Now, I am waiting for English translations of Lajos Parti-Nagy’s work. If anyone finds any, please let me know. Meanwhile: see this film.

Here are various trailers on YouTube.

And here is a real review by Pat Evans at Blogcritics Magazine [SPOILER WARNING]

1 comment:

BLAKE BUTLER said...

my torrent is slow, i have 20%, excited to see though