‘The Final Member’: a look at Phallological Museum
A three-star review of “The Final Member,” a documentary about the Icelandic Phallological Museum and its founder and curator, Sigurour “Siggi” Hjartarson.
Special to The Seattle Times
‘The Final Member,’ a documentary by Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math. 75 minutes. Rated R for phallic images, sexual references, graphic nudity and brief language. In English and Icelandic, with English subtitles. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
The subject of an eccentric new documentary, the Icelandic Phallological Museum is devoted to preserving the male genitalia of mammals.
Its founder and curator for nearly 40 years, Sigurour “Siggi” Hjartarson, sees nothing peculiar about turning over his life to the cataloging of reproductive organs. Neither do his wife and daughter. Or a colleague who thinks Siggi is simply attracted to “something that must not be talked about.”
Once people “realize there is nothing pornographic there,” Siggi tells filmmakers Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math, they’ll understand its value. Part of a town, Husavik, in northern Iceland, it’s become a major tourist attraction, drawing thousands each year.
The “Final Member” of the title is the human phallus. It’s the one specimen Hjartarson doesn’t have in his collection, which includes whales, mice, dolphins, hamsters, rats, wolves and a cave bear that may be Siggi’s oldest acquisition.
Two men vie for the honor of becoming the missing member: Paul Arason, an aging Icelandic adventurer and proud womanizer, and Tom Mitchell, an American exhibitionist who offers to sever his tattooed penis before death — and turn it into a comic-book superhero. Their rivalry provides the movie with its frequent comic high points.
If this material sounds familiar, you may have seen the 1995 Canadian film “Margaret’s Museum,” starring Helena Bonham Carter as an embittered Nova Scotia woman who uses a similar museum for very different purposes.
John Hartl: firstname.lastname@example.org