Taxidermia is not for the faint-hearted - or those with a delicate digestion. Or, indeed, anyone who has objection to grotesque carnal imagery. In fact, it's fair to say Taxidermia is probably only for a very few brave souls. It did the festival rounds in 2006 and I feel certain that it saw audiences leaving in their droves as director György Pálfi leaves no taboo undefiled.

The surreal plot, follows three generations of the same family - beginning with granddad Vendel Morosgovanyi (Csaba Czene) stuck in an outpost during World War II. He has twisted sexual fantasies, mostly involving the young girls who live in the house where he is stationed, and pigs, which will mean you'll never view the word "porking" in the same light again.

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The second segment concerns Vendel's son Kálmán (Gergo Trócsányi) - a contest-winning speed-eater. Those audience members who have made it past the pig may wish they hadn't as he and other competitors stuff their faces and, once the competition is over, puke it all back up again. If Mr Creosote in from Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life or the 'throw up' scene in Stand By Me turned your stomach, it'll be doing a triple back somersault with twist after this.

The final, equally disturbing portion of the film sees Kalman grown so corpulent he sits like Jabba The Hutt in his living room, being attended to by his skeletal taxidermist son Lajos, and training three monstrous moggies to be speed eating champions by feeding them lard.

If you can get past the twisted subject matter, György Pálfi's direction is excellent. It is as if Vermeer had turned to surrealism, such is the beauty he finds in the grotesque. The film has a rhythm from section to section, with his camera capturing elements of symmetry that link the stories. His imaginings burn an impression on your soul, particularly a spinning image of a bath filled with everything from a baby to a pig. Five-star direction, however, can only take you so far if your audience have followed their stomach contents out of the building.

Reviewed on: 03 May 2007
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Three generations of grotesque goings on in Hungary.
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Anton Bitel ****

Director: György Pálfi

Writer: György Pálfi, Lajos Parti Nagy, Zsófia Ruttkay

Starring: Csaba Czene, Gergely Trócsányi, Piroska Molnár, Adél Stanczel, Marc Bischoff, Gábor Máté, Zoltán Koppány, Géza D. Hegedüs, Erwin Leder, Géza Balkay, Attila Balogh

Year: 2006

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: Hungary, Austria, France

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