Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Fly (1958) Review

Fig.1 The Fly poster

The original version of the story in which a scientist experimenting with teleportation succumbs to a terrible fate. The film begins with the janitor, working late at night, who finds Helene Delambre (Patricia Owens) running away from the scene of a murder. Francois Delambre (Vincent Price) receives a phone call from both his sister-in-law, Helene, and the night janitor leading him to call the police to the scene. When Francois and Inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall) quiz Helene as to the previous events, we are then brought back into the past. This sudden change is to help shed light on the events prior to the murder. 

This is a fascinating way in which to tell a story, by beginning at the middle of the story to the go back to the start of the story then continue on from the present. However, this does also present its own problems in the concept itself. As Brandt Sponseller noted, 'At the same time, we’re not so in the dark that we just become irritated and give up' (Sponseller, 2001). At the beginning, the question arises 'Why is Helene acting the way she is?' and this is only answered later, but her actions later don't add up. This is due to Patricia Owens sometimes emotionless portrayal of Helene. Many times throughout the film, Patricia showed little concern or remorse for Andre, her husband.

There is a relevance of time period obvious to this film. In that time period, to have a child outside of marriage is not openly expressed in media and as such this follows, with Andre Delambre (David Hedison) and Helene Delambre married living out in the country along with their child. There is also the presence of male dominance when, after Helene has revealed to Francois and Charas what had happened, Charas discards her story without any notion.

Fig. 2 Hybrid of Andre and fly

As to the later moments of the film, when Andre willingly meets his demise, you cannot help but feel sympathetic towards him, as his goal was to only revolutionise technology. In his last moments you see the insect nature taking over his mind, and the moments in which, Andre and the fly hybrid, communicates with Helene are some truly sad and horrific points. A contrast to this, is the second death of the hybrid, in which the fly is dominant up until the end. The moment when Inspector Charas lifts a rock, only to hurdle it towards the hybrid and spider, a threat to Andre, crushing both is something quite comedic. 

Despite real contrasts and conflicts whether man should try to take the role of God into their own hands, there is a lack of support or consequence for the argument against. In fact, it endorses the notion to experiment despite the consequences, 'as an explorer like Columbus, who sacrificed himself for the sake of discovering something that would benefit future generations’ (Biodrowski, 2007).

Fig. 3 Andre and Helene
Since the teleportation device reveal, there was this sense of progression. Finding one fault, fixing it then finding another. Quite a necessary component as it gave this feeling of lose once it came apparent that the technology was not at fault, but rather the unlimited circumstances that it wouldn't be able to predict, thus providing a catastrophic result, the cat and Andre are prime examples. Howard Thompson summarised it quite nicely as, 'his transmitter will be a bogy rather than a blessing to mankind' (Thompson, 1958).

This film is more than the 'human to monster' transition, as it concentrates on this theme of 'What is a monster?' Is it the disgusting appearance that makes something a monster? Or is the actions of someone that makes them a monster? Andre considers himself to be a monster by appearance and as time passes by he feels that his mind is degenerating, becoming that one step closer to the monster he sees himself as. Despite the impact of the metamorphosis, Andre's wishes to die rather than become the thing he so despises.

Figure 1. Neumann, Kurt (1958)  The Fly poster At: (Accessed on 25/9/11)
Figure 2. Hybrid of Andre and fly (1958) From: The Fly Directed by: Kurt Neumann [film still] USA: 20th Century Fox
Figure 3. Andre and Helene (1958) From: The Fly Directed by: Kurt Neumann [film still] USA: 20th Century Fox

Sponseller, B. (2001) Classic Horror.  (Accessed on 25/09/11)
Biodrowski, S. (2007) Cinefantastique Online. (Accessed on 25/09/11)

Thompson, H. (1958) New York Times
(Accessed on 25/09/11)

No comments:

Post a Comment