Taxidermia (dir. György Pálfi, 2006) – From the Second World War to modern-day, three generations thread a visually and metaphorically striking narrative.
Disturbing themes in Taxidermia fascinate with a striking portrayal of dark wit, though most may flinch at the blunt displays of moral degradation.
A military orderly, a speed-eater, and a taxidermist walk into a movie. Connected only by inter-generational ties, the disjointed pieces oddly enough find themselves seamlessly sewn together in the unusual narrative of Taxidermia.
Director György Pálfi is no doubt a man of great imagination. His odd fever dream features fantastical surrealism more violent than The Holy Mountain, and nightmarish body horror only surpassed by Tetsuo: The Iron Man. But there is no fair comparison for this distinct movie that drives unflinchingly into the darkest corners of humanity.
The ‘R’ rating is slapped onto the cover for a good reason. No theme is too crude, and no subject, off-limit. Bestiality, waste, morbid obesity, and human taxidermia hardly cover a quarter of the gross-out festival line-up. Nausea is imminent, as one scarring scene follows another spectacularly repulsive image.
Is spectacular the wrong word? No matter the verdict, one has to admit that there is a certain allure to the foul visual bile. Not just made to shock, the macabre imagery is layered with unique dark wit and whimsical humour that compels.
Every shot is as beautifully composed as deviance can be. It is difficult to watch, and equally tough to look away. As artful as disturbance can be, any foray into extreme cinema should begin here.
Deeper thought lies in its embrace of gruesome insanity, as philosophical and sociopolitical overtones make for an interesting allegory. But a study would take someone both well acquainted with Hungarian history and well equipped with a strong stomach for Pálfi’s uncomfortable and bizarre interpretation.