Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Fly (1986) Review

Fig. 1 The Fly poster
Twenty-eight years after the horrid incident involving a human scientist and a fly, resulting in a hybrid of the two, and history repeats itself. A remake or rather a re-telling of the 1958 The Fly, we see Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) enter the teleportation device hoping to revolutionise transportation only to fall victim to the technology he created.

Fig. 2 Seth entering the teleporter
Unlike the original, directed by Kurt Neumann, this film is continuous and remains in the present moment, with an exception to dream that adds a rather un-expected twist to the plot of the story. This alternate direction is used to better grasp the evolution of Seth to 'BrundleFly', the metamorphosis of the scientist and a fly. As Caryn James put it, 'Mr. Cronenberg's interest narrows, and his camera languidly worships every stage of the metamorphosis.' (James, 1986)

In contrast to the original, in which Andre Delambre (David Hedison) is the scientist who becomes the hybridisation of a fly and human being, Seth lives alone in his apartment where he also hosts his research and experiments. The film begins with Seth bragging to Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) about the technology that he created, introducing her as the love interest. This is 'modernised' take on the previous setting to Kurt Neumann's film. The single adult living alone in an apartment was, and still is, a common way of living, and it's that single change of setting that greatly defines the two films.

The technology side to this re-telling, is well designed and conceived. The metamorphosis of Seth is quite a gruesome sight to behold, as it should be. Cronenberg 'doesn't skimp on his trademark gooeyness, but doles it out selectively. Creepiness finds other, relatively dry and goo-free places to emerge', (Hassenger, 2005) as Jesse Hassenger noted.

Fig. 3 The complete metamorphosis of 'Brundlefly'
Very much like its original, this has, if not more, suspense and emotion in its last moments. When Seth is losing his mind to 'Brundlefly', he soon learns that Veronica, the love of his life, is pregnant with his child. Seth then abducts Veronica, in a hope to salvage a family from the chaos. While it is understandable that Seth wants to fill the parental role, the gravity of his actions show just how warped his mind has became. This sudden 'guardian' role, is quickly replaced by 'Brundlefly's' survival instincts. Turning against Veronica, he hopes to save himself in a truly horrific metamorphosis. It's in these last few moments that there's a realisation of the complexity that Cronenberg has added to the original story. Despite the dead-end of the movie, 'he opts for pretty much the same ending the 1958 film had, although more gross and horrifying as well as more touching.' (Puccio, 2005)

Figure 1. David Cronenberg (1986) The Fly poster. At: (Accessed on: 28/9/11)
Figure 2. David Cronenberg (1986) Seth entering the teleporter. At: (Accessed on: 28/9/11)
Figure 3. David Cronenberg (1986) The complete metamorphosis of Brundlefly. At: (Accessed on: 28/9/11)

Caryn James (1986) The New York Times. At: (Accessed on: 28/9/11)
Jesse Hassenger (2005) Filmcritic. At: (Accessed on: 28/9/11)
John J. Puccio (2005) DVDTown. At: (Accessed on: 28/9/11)

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