What a film. The Final Member (2012, dir. Jonah Bekhor & Zach Math) tells the story of Sigurður Hjartarson, also known as Siggi, and his love of collecting a very special type of specimen – the mammalian penis. Siggi has collected specimens from far and wide and displays them at the Icelandic Phallological Museum in Reykjavík, Iceland. But Siggi is missing one piece for his collection – that of a human male. This documentary tells of Siggi’s obsessive collection of penises, the establishment of his museum, his search for the final member, and of the two men who are fighting for their penis to be the first human specimen on display.
So, this is a film about dicks. Penises. Male genitalia. You know what I mean. As a result, there is a lot of humour, both intentional and unintentional; and there’s a lot of deadpan, very Icelandic-style humour, which I adore. If you have the tendency to giggle at the sight of genitals, both animal and human, then this is the film for you because you’ll be laughing every five seconds. The film makes a good point in that Siggi is taking that which humans feel is taboo in society – their genitals – and placing it on display for the whole world to see, making people feel uncomfortable, but also highlighting elements of our society that don’t really make any sense. Everyone has genitals, so why not have an entire museum dedicated to mammalian penises?
Our protagonist Siggi guides us on the journey of the story with his family chiming in along the way. We also have the competitors for the first human penis to be donated to the museum – Pall Arason, an older Icelandic gentleman who boasts more than 300 sexual conquests, and Tom Mitchell, a strange American man who has named his penis ‘Elmo’ and plans on writing a superhero comic about its adventures. Some of the film’s strangest moments come from Tom Mitchell and the way he sees the world and rationalises his donation to the museum. But apart from this, there are some beautiful shots of Iceland and cinematography showing off its natural beauty, plus some very poignant shots of Siggi looking into the distance and pondering the future of the museum.
I really enjoyed this documentary. It’s a bit of a short one at 75 minutes, but this is to the film’s overall benefit as the plot is generally quite thin and it may have felt a bit overstretched if the runtime were longer. There’s a strange juxtaposition between the film’s content, humour, and the way that it’s beautifully shot. But it is always entertaining and interesting, and it all adds up to one strange experience.
Watch the trailer here (warning: penises).