Adam Sigal’s Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose is as abstract as the concepts of life and death. One of the main things that the film leaves us with is that reality is subjective in nature, and what’s true for one person might not be true for another. One might find it hard to decipher what the film wants to say as a whole, but in fragments, it asks certain profound questions, the answers to which you are coerced to ask yourself. With a run time of just over 90 minutes, Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose is an entertaining ride, and it not only makes you laugh but also keeps you intrigued. A lot of times, pacing becomes an issue with films of this genre, and the writers delve into bizarre and incomprehensible notions that often become too far-fetched. But Adam Sigal has made sure that even when he is talking about concepts that are larger than life, he keeps it interesting and swift. So let’s find out what the famous expert in parapsychology, Dr. Nandor Fodor, finds on his journey and if, in the process, he is satisfied with whatever deductions he ends up making.
Why does Nandor Fodor go to meet Mr. Irving?
A question that people often asked Dr. Nandor Fodor was whether ghosts exist in real life, and he always replied very diplomatically that there was no simple answer to it. He said that different people could have different perspectives, which could lead to them creating their own different reality, which is why there is no universal truth when it comes to questions such as these. Dr. Fodor used to receive hundreds of letters where people wrote about the supernatural happenings that they had witnessed and often asked him to come and check if what they had seen was just a figment of their imagination or if it existed in reality. Most of those people were just making up stories, but when Dr. Fodor received a letter from one of his contemporaries, he couldn’t help but read it to find out what he was saying.
Dr. Harry Price had written in his letter that a family who had been living in a farmhouse on the Isle of Man had claimed that they had a mongoose in their house that could speak like humans. Dr. Price had gone there to investigate the matter, and he said that though he hadn’t seen the mongoose through his own eyes, he had heard it speaking. Dr. Fodor decided to meet Dr. Price and get to know what he had found out on his visit to the island. Dr. Harry Price told Fodor that the Irving couple said that the mongoose did not like visitors, and that is why it was not coming in front of them. Their daughter, Voirrey Irving, was a ventriloquist, and so Dr. Price already had doubts that she could be the one who was taking out the voice. But then his speculations were weakened when he realized that the entire village believed in the existence of this talking mongoose they had named Gef.
Now, Gef had told people things from their lives that they hadn’t revealed to anybody, and that is how they started believing that this mongoose existed in reality and was an earthbound spirit. Dr. Price hadn’t been able to collect any substantial evidence that could corroborate what the villagers said, and so he wanted Dr. Fodor to go and find out more about it. Dr. Nandor Fodor agreed to the proposal and left for the Isle of Man with his assistant Anne, presuming that it wouldn’t take him more than a couple of days to bust the myth and inform the villagers that there was no truth to the rumors.
Did Gef exist in reality?
As soon as Anne and Dr. Nandor Fodor entered the village, they started hearing stories of people who had encountered Gef. The entire village was so intrigued by the animal that it felt like they had only one topic to talk about. But the one thing that was common in all the stories was that, apart from the Irving family, nobody had actually seen the mongoose face-to-face. Some said, like the owner of the bar which Anne visited, they had seen it from the corner of their eye, and most of them had not seen it but had heard its voice. The bar owner went on saying that Gef had recited a poem written by William Yeats, which he later came to know that up until then it hadn’t been published for the people to read.
There were millions of such stories in the entire village about the miracles pulled off by Gef, but Dr. Fodor was only going to believe what he saw. Mr. Irving told Dr. Fodor that many times, when Gef didn’t want to meet the visitors, it went and hid in the caves that were located on the top of the hill. Together with Mr. Irving and his hand, Errol, Dr. Fodor, and Anne embarked on the journey, only to get disappointed at the end, as Gef, the miracle mongoose, was nowhere to be found. There were certain food items and other things kept inside the cave, which Mr. Irving told Dr. Fodor that the mongoose had brought it from the houses of the villagers. While coming back, Errol told Dr. Fodor very bluntly that it was all a sham and that there was no mongoose that existed in real life, but he didn’t give any other information about why he thought so or why Mr. Irving would speak lies about such a thing.
That same day, Anne noticed in Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose that Voirrey was an exceptional ventriloquist. She spoke, and Anne actually felt like her voice was coming from the other side of the room. Voirrey said that it had taken her years to hone her skills, and she was probably the best in the country. There was a moment when Anne sang something and a voice came from behind the walls. Anne was standing right in front of Voirrey, but she couldn’t decipher if it was her or if it was someone behind the walls, as this time, Voirrey didn’t move her lips even a bit. After that incident, Anne started entertaining the possibility that Gef actually existed.
Dr. Fodor got a call late in the night, and he was told that Gef wanted to talk to him. Gef said something that his father had told him years ago, and Dr. Fodor got confused about how he had come to know about it. Mr. Irving, the next morning, told Dr. Fodor that Gef had agreed to meet not only him but a lot of other people too, who had also been told something private that only they or their close ones knew about. Even in this encounter, Gef’s face was not visible, and a furry animal was seen moving to and fro in the box. The voice of Gef sounded exactly like what Voirrey had made when Anne had gone to meet her. And to top it all, Mr. Irving gave the excuse that his daughter was not feeling good, and that is why she wouldn’t be able to come for the meeting.
Dr. Fodor, after that meeting, didn’t know what to believe in, and it was all making him very irritated. Deep down, he knew that mongoose didn’t exist in real life, but still, the Irvings were able to make a fool out of the people. When Dr. Fodor reached there, he took a sledgehammer and broke open the same box in which Gef was kept earlier. Obviously, there was nothing inside it, and before he could say or do anything, Errol hit him from behind, and he woke to find himself locked up in a cell.
Dr. Fodor could once again heard Gef’s voice from the adjacent cell, and he took out his arm and asked Gef to scratch it and prove that he had exited. Dr. Fodor’s hand did get scratched, but Gef still never showed his face. We had enough evidence to say that Gef did not exist in real life, and it was Voirrey who was taking out its voice. We had been told earlier that in that farmhouse, there was so much space behind the walls that the mongoose could move through it. We believe that it was Voirrey who was speaking from behind the walls, and that is why she made the excuse that she was sick that day. Dr. Fodor went back to London, and though he was warned by Mr. Irving that he had a team of lawyers who were ready to sue him if he got his experiences published, we think that he would still go ahead and get them published somewhere.
Why did The Irvings lie about Gef?
During Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose‘s ending, Dr. Fodor tells Dr. Price, that whoever was in the cell next to him asked a very profound question, which gave him some idea about why Mr. Irving had spread those lies and gone to such an extent to make people believe that the mongoose existed. Maybe the mongoose was Mr. Irving’s legacy that he wanted to leave behind. Dr. Fodor said that people like them wrote books so that after they were gone, the world would remember them, and just like that, Dr. Irving also believed that his family’s name would be etched in history and they would be remembered whenever people would talk about the talking mongoose.
Mr. Irving would have gone to great lengths to make people believe in that rumor and made such an effort because it gave meaning to his existence. Mr. Irving was like that godman who showed a magic trick to convince people that he had supernatural powers and then basked in the glory his entire life and died with the satisfaction that even after he was gone, people would remember him as someone who had changed their lives. As Dr. Nandor Fodor had said earlier, the reality was different for different people, and so here, too, the same logic applied; only this time, he chose to believe that the Irvings were lying.