By Eric Campos | July 8, 2003

Thought amputee porn was just for beer chugging sleazes looking for a good laugh? Wrong. There are actually folks out there that get off on this stuff. But you’re reading Film Threat, so this probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to you. We all have our little hang-ups, don’t we? But what I’ve just discovered in Melody Gilbert’s startling documentary, “Whole,” is that there are not only people out there that get their jollies from the sight of a one-legged lass, but folks that are jealous of them as well.
“Whole” focuses on a select group of men who are adamant about their feelings of physical incompleteness because they have all four of their limbs. Some of these people we meet are wannabes who take to strapping their legs behind their a*s to fake the whole amputee experience, while others are the hardcore who have taken extreme measures to actually extract the offending limb. Their stories are all completely interesting and even have different angles to this mental condition that remains unclassified in medical books.
There’s the cute – where one wannabe sits about the house in a wheelchair with his leg strapped behind him while his wife does all she can to support his feelings of being a one-legged man trapped in the body of a two-legged man. Of course, she does confess that if there were ever a pill on the market that would clear his head of these thoughts, she’d be all for it.
There’s the tragically comic – where we find another couple’s marriage on the verge of collapse because of the husband’s longing to be a one-legged man. The clearly fed-up wife confesses that if they were to ever split, she’d be one of the only people that would be able to tell others that she got a divorce because, “…my husband would rather cut off his leg than stay married to me.”
There’s the interesting – where a man who froze his leg to the point that, when taken to the hospital, there was no choice for the doctors, but to remove the killed limb. This guy is fairly well spoken and offers perhaps the clearest look into how it would be like to feel the overwhelming urge to remove a piece of your body.
And then, there’s the scary – where an elderly man talks about how he used to drill holes in his left leg, and other such self-mutilation, because he never felt that it belonged attached to his body. Ultimately, he arranged a shotgun “accident” that removed the unwanted limb, leading to newfound happiness. But no matter how happy this guy claims to be, you can’t help but get the feeling that there’s something else spinning radically different from other folks in his head, perhaps something that would force him to cause further damage to himself or others.
But is it really damage? This is the ethical dilemma and it’s the reason why leg amputations aren’t as easily accessible as say a tummy tuck or breast enlargement, even though the principal is basically the same. No matter how different in tone these people’s stories may be, what stood out to me was how adamant they were about the overwhelming desperation to get rid of their leg, whether they had done it yet or not. And this brings me to an interesting point – every single one of the subjects of this documentary were male and either dreamed of, or had taken measures to remove their left leg. Why men and why the left leg? Unfortunately, this question goes unanswered in this film, even though the male portion of it is briefly addressed.
“Whole” suffers a bit from amateur documentary filmmaking, such as the goofy music cues trying to accent the bizarre nature of the subject matter, but it’s still a very interesting watch. You’ll think twice about pitying a guy with only one leg again, that’s for sure.

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