Review: 'The Final Member' grows on you Special

Posted May 9, 2012 by Sarah Gopaul
'The Final Member' is a captivating documentary about the quest to complete the collection at the world's only penis museum.
Hot Docs: The Final member
Hot Docs: The Final member
Hot Docs
It would seem somewhere in the world, there is a niche museum dedicated to almost everything. Topics include celebrities such as Elvis Presley, sports like hockey, hobbies including train collecting, and toys such as Lego. But Iceland may be home to one of the most unique and surprising collections in the world: a penis museum. Sigurdur “Siggi” Hjartarson has collected examples of the male genitalia for more than 40 years. The Final Member chronicles his quest to acquire the only missing specimen from the Icelandic Phallogical Museum: a human penis.
Just that much of the story is intriguing enough to grab an audience's attention, but the possible donors are even more fascinating. The first is 95-year-old Páll Arason, an infamous Icelandic adventurer and womanizer. His wish is to donate his organ after his death as the ultimate reminder of the remarkable life he led. On the other hand are Tom and "Elmo." The special thing about Tom is not just that his penis is named after a Sesame Street character, but that he didn't want to wait until after his death to make his donation. Filmmakers follow Tom as he decorates his member with a stars and stripes tattoo; designs the display case; speaks to a surgeon about the procedure; and works on a comic book starring Elmo.
The peculiarity of their stories, independently and combined, are the obvious draw. However, the utter lack of perversion in Siggi's venture is also interesting. Conversely, Tom's determination to provide the first human specimen and his linking it to American patriotism borders on the insane. It's entirely understandable that Siggi begins to distance himself from Tom and his quirky demands.
In a strange way, this is a film about dreams and immortality. Each of the three men has a defining act he wants to achieve at the end of his life so he can be remembered as the one who accomplished such a feat. But as with all dreams, they must overcome obstacles and hardships to make it come true. It is the journey to their unusual goals and their individual dedication to the cause that makes the documentary interesting.
Directors: Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math