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Taxidermia is a multi-generational saga of obscenities never veering far from the depths of depravity. It starts in utter deprivation and moves into obscene excess and ends in an aesthete art installation. Could it be a fitting allegory for the changing fortunes of Central Europe from WW2 to present? Only its Hungarian director György Pálfi knows for sure. His previous film Hukkle, steeped in rural profanity, captivated and mystified audiences.

It starts with grandfather Vendel, an underfed orderly suffering in the cold in a forgotten military outpost. He serves the lieutenant and his family, drawing the bath for his lovely daughters and servicing his portly wife until his head is blown off. The progeny of this regrettable union is Kalman.

Times change and in the new era of state-sponsored opportunity, Kalman finds his true calling as an Olympic champion speed-eater. Love blossoms among vats of gruel and vomitoriums to produce the spindly taxidermist Lajos.

In his workshop of dead carcasses, the film turns even darker. Looking after his declining and delusional father Kalman, Lajos finds a way unique to his profession and personality to finally end the family farce.

The tales of Vendel and Kalman come from the pages of Hungarian writer Lajos Parti Nagy, while Pálfi and his wife Zsófia Ruttkay wrote Lajos’ final act. At times funny and at other times appalling, the film never leaves the onedimensional realm of magic realism. Its lack of engagement though is more than made up for by the sheer audacity of its miserablism and ghastliness. (Linda Feesey)

Dir. György Pálfi,

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