Of all the bio pics and mockumentaries, you may think Spinal Tap or Walk Hard is the crudest, most far out of those genres, but I guarantee that you are wrong. You have not seen anything of that magnitude until you have witnessed the bizzaro comedy, The Fartiste. And do you want to know what shockingly sets these films apart from each other? The Fartiste is based loosely on real life comedian Joseph Pujol who was known on stage as Le Petomane, a man who could seemingly fart at will by control his lower abdominal muscles! How is this not more widely known?
We start the film by joining Le Petomane in Purgatory, where he is replaying all of the events in his life. By the by, Le Petomane is played by Michael Pataki, who you may remember as Nicolo Koloff from Rocky IV and Dr. Hoffman in Halloween 4! The guy actually has a modest resume, so it’s awkward, but at the same time intriguing to see such a versatile actor play a lead in such an absurd comedy. For some reason, the thought of someone narrating their life events from Purgatory reminds me of a Mel Brooks film. Which is an odd coincidence since Le Petomane is referenced in Blazing Saddles.
We start the journey of his life as he talks to his psychiatrist, uncovering the birth of his “talent” at a young age, where he would perform for all of the other school children. His act consisted of imitating instruments (the best being a tuba), mimicking animal noises and blowing out candles with precise accuracy. Of course this led to be taken advantage of as a young adult, getting underpaid. His arse to was later be arrested for arson, as he literally blew away an audience and the building with one of his farts.
Building his skill and stowing away in a Romanian boat, he was eventually hired by a man named Duvall to perform at the Moulin Rouge and yes, the real Le Petomane performed there! I think Moulin Rouge would have been better if Nicole Kidman was farting all those songs. Kings and queens would travel to come and see this act! However, he unintentionally inspires a man to go on a killing spree after the man hears the voice of God in Le Petomane’s farts, commanding him to kill. Once he is captured, they put Le Petomane’s flatulence to good use by creating the ‘gas’ chamber, executing the man. If that’s not poetic justice, I don’t know what is.
And finally, what would any good bio pic be if there wasn’t a career downfall due to arrogance. Even Le Petomane gives into womanizing, gambling and making questionable changes to his act (yes, even his act). The rest of the film, of course, is about redemption and regaining control of what he once lost. His legacy, even in real life, would inspire many artist to make plays and movies about his life.
Believe it or not, there is actually quite a touching story linked to The Fartiste a.k.a. A Blast From the Past. Produced by Frankie Ray (from Invasion of the Star Creatures) in 1987, the film was meant to be shown on comedy cable networks, but after his wife’s disapproval, Frank never showed the film to anyone, except for a few cast members. The film almost fell past obscurity and into oblivion… until a man, Chuck Harter, met Frankie Ray in 2000 and watched a dub made back in 1991. Chuck wanted to share the same humor he found in the film with everyone else. After some negotiations about half a year ago, Alpha Video agreed to release it. It’s that kind of fan dedication to a genre that makes me proud to be a part of the community.
You would think an hour long film about farting wouldn’t be charming, but you would be wrong. I have to admit, it grew on me, especially after reading the history of this film, one man’s passion to distribute it and recognizing the talent behind it (no pun intended… or is there?), realizing the incredible sense of humor they have and making a film, regardless of what folks may say. The Fartiste is worth a good laugh. It’ll bring back memories of farting on your little brother’s head. Or in my case, bad memories of my big brother farting on my head.
Pick up your copy of The Fartiste at Oldies.com
I think The Lost Highway cut the cheese!