“Stuffed” gained’t wrest the title of cinema’s most well-known taxidermist from Norman Bates, however this documentary isn’t headed for as ghoulish a vacation spot because the Bates Motel. Rather, the film, directed by Erin Derham, units out to discover the artistic facet of taxidermy, positioning the self-discipline as combining the attention of an artist with the scientific impulses of a naturalist, to paraphrase Travis C. de Villiers, one of many topics.
We meet taxidermists like Allis Markham, who left a advertising job to start out her personal studio after a facet schooling on the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The concept that taxidermy could be a type of archiving — a approach of recording the poses of vanishing species — resurfaces all through the movie.
But not all taxidermists have an curiosity in lifelike appearances. A Dutch practitioner describes how he and his associate artist added an extra-large jaw to a tiger to emphasise the animal’s greed, one thing a purist would by no means have achieved. More time might have been spent probing the philosophy of the “Rogue Taxidermists,” a group whose experiments include the Frankensteining of multiple animals.
In making the case that taxidermy is misunderstood, the movie emphasizes its subjects’ cuddliness, as if dwelling on the craft’s morbid qualities would alienate viewers. (One of the principal interviewees, Daniel Meng, admits that “3-D wildlife artist” makes for a better job description on a first date.) While Derham banks on the surprise factor of seeing taxidermists acting as stealth conservationists, the film leaves the impression that she could have scalpel-dug into deeper layers.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 24 minutes.
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