Title: Taxidermia (2006)
Director: Gyorgy Palfi
I recently did a Top Five Bizarro Movies Countdown in conjunction with fellow movie reviewer Shaun Anderson of The Celluloid Highway. I’m actually very happy with that countdown because we managed to come up with some truly bizarre movies! The strangest of the strange, if you are at all interested in seeing strange bizarro cinema, by all means check it out. During that countdown, I managed to get some savvy movie suggestion from my readers, one of the suggestions was the movie I will be reviewing today, the Hungarian/French production Taxidermia. I was excited to see this film because I was promised that I would be seeing some truly bizarre stuff. I pride myself in the fact that I have seen some of the strangest movies ever made, so I thought to myself that Taxidermia couldn’t possibly be as messed up as some of the films I have already seen. Turns out I was wrong! Had I known about Taxidermia, I would have placed it somewhere amongst my top five strangest movies ever.
Taxidermia is a film that spans three generations of men. The first generation we get to meet is a servant, who goes by the name of Morosgovanyi . He does everything that they ask of him on this remote Hungarian military outpost. He chops wood, he warms up the bath water, he slaughters the animals, and after he does all his chores, he goes to sleep in a shed outside, with no way of getting warm in the middle of the cold winter. The only way he knows how to get warm is by putting a candle really close to his skin, practically burning his skin! He also sucks up the heat emanating from the candle light! He lives in an incredibly desperate situation! Due to the fact that he lives in such a dire situation, Morosgovanyi often escapes to his fantasy worlds, and we get to go with him on these trips which are sexual, bizarre and surreal in nature. On top of things, he is constantly thinking of screwing all the women in the household, but apparently never gets any action, which leads him to taking desperate and repulsive measures to satisfy his sexual needs.
Then the movie focuses on his son, a young boy who goes by the name of Kalman. As the years pass, Kalman ends up being a world class speed eater. What this means is, he participates in eating contests, to see which speed eater eats the most the fastest! I’ve always found competitive eating disgusting myself. I mean, basically you are in contests to see who is the biggest glutton. The idea is repulsive to me, but this kind of thing exists in the world, Google it, it aint pretty. I mean, would you eat 59 hot dogs in less than 10 minutes? That can’t be good for you. Anyhows, this part of the film I found really interesting because it’s kind of like a fantasy world where there are Olympics for super fat people who eat large amounts of food at ridiculous speeds! And it’s this whole event, with people urging their favorite speed eaters to eat faster and win! It’s a very repulsive scene, these guys just gorging down on this slop! The whole scene reminded me of Stand by Me (1986) which has a scene that takes place during this disgusting pie eating contest that ends up with everyone vomiting on each other! On Taxidermia, Kalman the speed eater falls in love with one of his admirers, a woman named Gizi. Soon they get married and have a kid. It is then when we are presented with yet another child. The third generation of men we meet in this film, he goes by the name of Lajoska.
Lajoska is the son of Kalman the speed eater. Years have passed and now Kalman the speedeater has turned into a monster of gigantic proportions. A man so obese he cannot even get up to go to the bathroom himself! He reminded me of Mr. Creosote from Monthy Python's The Meaning of Life (1983). So this incredibly obese person has his son Lajoska do everything for him while he sits all day watching t.v. Lajoska must run to the supermarket and buy food and supplies for his obese father and his gigantic cats. By the way, Kalma prides himself on his fat cats, which he continuously feeds bar after bar of pure butter. My take on it was that he was getting these cats fat so that he could eat them later on. Kind of reminded me of Thanksgiving day for some reason. But anyways, after a while, Lajoska cant take being a slave to his father anymore. What will he do to change things?
I’ve only given the general outline for each tale, so I won’t spoil things for you. But trust me, each tale gets more twisted than what I’ve explained above. This is one of those movies that wants to shock you, that wants you to be shaken somehow by what you see, and it succeeds very well on this. The film does not focus on the beautiful or the attractive, rather, it focuses on the grotesque, the outlandish, and the freakish. As is the case in many films of this ilk, the images and situations are entirely symbolic. I am not Hungarian, and I am not up to date on that countries history, but I’ve read that the film has many symbolisms dealing with Hungaria’s political history. The change from communism to capitalism. And you can certainly see the film in that way. You can also think of the film as a representation of various capital sins, like lust, glutonny, bestiality, kind of like an even more twisted version of Seven, but I dont think that would be an accurate comparison, because I dont think all the sins are represented on this film.
Norman Bates would be proud
But I chose to see it as a film about families, and the psychological baggage we inherit from them. We see how each new family member inherits something from the last, and how sometimes the sons have to suffer for the sins of the fathers. Must you live exactly how your parents live? Or can you take the rains of your own life? When is enough enough when you don’t agree to living the way your parents did? When you just don’t agree with the way they are or how they think? Of course, this can be applied to politics as well. There are certain ways to rule a country, must we continue running a country the way our fore fathers see fit, or can new more effective ways of government be implemented? A way that would benefit the people and the whole population in general and not just the elite few?
The tale dealing with the obese father and his skinny son is representative of this. From what I've read about the film, the obese man is representative of Capitalism and how it makes some rich and powerful, by feeding on the less fortunate. The obese father representing the rich and powerful, getting fat with every meal they take in, while the poor (represented by his son) get overworked, depressed, skinnier, sicker. And angry. Anger in a country leads to despair and revolution, something that is represented in the last frames of this film, but I wont spoil it either. Just see the movie. Its one of the most bizarre movies I have ever seen, and that’s saying a lot in my book. It is interesting that this movie is so ugly, yet at times beautiful to look at. I guess the beautiful lighting and colors is a way to even out the bizarreness the film displays. Highly recommended for lovers of world cinema and for lovers of the strange and unusual.
Rating: 5 out of 5