Genre: Drama • Horror • Comedy
Director: György Pálfi
Starring: Csaba Czene, Gergely Trócsányi, Piroska Molnár, Adél Stanczel
Duration: 91 min.
A grotesque tale of three generations of men, including a sexually obsessed WWII soldier, an obese competition speed eater, and a taxidermist.
Taxidermia is a film directed by Hungarian filmmaker György Pálfi, based on short stories written by Lajos Parti Nagy. It premiered at the 2006 Hungarian Film Festival and also screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.
This is a twisted fantasy told in three separate sections that follows the lives of three generations of Hungarian men. I'm not entirely sure they are actually related, because in each case there are scenes that make it ambiguous who the real father is, but the first is Vendel Morosgovanyi (Csaba Czene), a sex obsessed WWII era orderly assigned to a high ranking officer's estate. Then his son Kalman Balatony (Gergely Trócsányi) who grows up to be a celebrated Cold War Era competitive speed eater. Lastly, there is grandson Lajos Balatony (Marc Bischoff) a present day taxidermist who runs a shop and looks after Kalman who has become immobile from extreme obesity.
This film is definitely not for the squeamish, it is filled with graphically absurd and disturbing imagery that would make the master Cronenberg proud. For example, there's a man with a flame throwing penis, another so fat he could be a stand-in for Jabba the Hutt, and the last is one who uses his taxidermy skills to take body modification to a sickening extreme. What I've described are among the tamer images presented, rest assured it gets much more lurid and revolting than that, but I think the details are better left to surprise.
On the surface it looks like a film with no purpose other than to shock and offend the audience, and it can easily be appreciated or dismissed simply on that level. But after watching so many Hungarian films in the past couple of months and becoming familiar with it's recent history, it is evident that Pálfi has created a brilliant though stomach churning parable to the political changes in Hungary of the last century, from regimental imperialism, to depraved and perverted fascism, to repulsively gluttonous communism, to selfish and misguided capitalism.
From a technical standpoint, Taxidermia is a very well crafted film. The cinematography handled by Gergely Pohárnok, is solid and is aided by some excellent and unforgettable visual and special effects, a pleasant surprise because it is a rarity to see effects of any kind in Hungarian cinema. In addition there is an outstanding score composed by Brazilian electronic maestro Amon Tobin, with weird and wonderful sounds that perfectly complement the images.
This one doesn't fit into an easily defined category of drama, horror, or comedy; it's more like a dark and surreal allegory with dramatic, comedic, and horrific elements. Highly recommended, but only to those who enjoy and can handle transgressive cinema.
— Bonjour Tristesse