BIG FUR (2019)
Directed by Dan Wayne
Written by Karen Everett (story consultant), George Langworthy
Starring Ken Walker, Amy Carter, Antonio Alfero, Larry Blomquist, Mike Judd, Dawne L’Hirondelle, Robert Michael Pyle, George Roof, Ken Walker Sr., Chantelle Walker, Colette Walker, Jim Walker, Patrick Walker
Find out more about this film here!!
Ken Walker has always been an outsider and in BIG FUR you find out why. Walker is looked at as one of the best in the taxidermy field. His works has won all sorts of awards. Now, he is tackling his most challenging taxidermy work yet…Bigfoot.
BIG FUR follows the life of Ken Walker, depicting his formative years when he became fascinated with taxidermy all the way to his dreams of recreating one of the most elusive creatures known to man. Through the course of the film, we get to know Ken, his family, and what it is like living with this obsession with taxidermy. For Ken, it is much more than simply stuffing an animal. He tries to capture the life it no longer has through posture, presence, and pure emotion. Even among his peers, Ken is looked at as a true artisan of his craft.
The film follows Ken from the inception of this idea of recreating a creature that is not recognized by science as actually existing to the detailed construction of every part of it. We see Ken pick out the giant Styrofoam with which he carves the shape, the fur which he pieces together from different kinds of animals, and the all important eyes of the beast.
The film kind of skids off course in the last twenty minutes of the film as we are made privy to a scandal that Ken is involved in. I won’t reveal it here, but it does take the documentary on a detour that I like was too late in the film to mention and kind of detracts from the Bigfoot sculpture itself. Sure, these moments sort of humanize Ken, but I feel we get to know him pretty well even before this detail is revealed and I feel much of this is padding to make the film feature length rather than a simple one hour documentary. If anything it puts a very sad shade on the rest of the film rather than highlighting Ken for the artist that he is.
That said, the end result of Ken’s efforts is pretty amazing. The creature looks right at home with the rest of the wild beasts on display at the World Taxidermy Championships. In the end, the creature is less menacing and more human than Ken seems to have intended, which turns out to be a nice metaphor about the field of taxidermy that has been the butt of many a Norman Bates joke and the scorn to many animal rights activists. While Ken presents as an oddball with his obsession with bringing dead animals to life and his equal appreciation for Roy Orbison Karaoke, the film humanizes him as well. While this is far from a horror film, it does belong in the cinema of the weird category which I don’t mind sharing with the horror genre. If you’re appreciator of the artistic process and Bigfoot, you won’t want to miss this one.