Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Fly (1986)

Fig.1
David Cronenberg’s The Fly is the remake of the 1958 classic sci-fi horror. Although the fusion of fly and man is still the prominent narrative, the remake delves deeper into the themes and exploits current issues throughout. Whilst many people at the time believed that Seth Brundle’s (Jeff Goldblum) metamorphosis was a metaphor for HIV/aids , there are others who subsequently have discussed that Cronenberg has thought in simpler terms and used Brundle to convey the conflict of the heart ruling the head.

Perceived as a film about the AIDS crisis at the time of its release, Cronenberg is too intelligent a filmmaker to allow his picture to become a vehicle for other people's politics. For as you don't need to put The Fly under the microscope to see that it's HIV free, close inspection reveals that this highly intelligent film is as much a movie about the head and the heart as it is a warning of the perils of the "new flesh". (Film4 unspecified date)
Fig.2
Croneberg highlights the issue of abortion in the film when Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) becomes pregnant with Brundle/‘Brundlefly’s’ baby and then decides almost immediately to get an abortion. Thus creating conflict within the viewers minds; firstly the right to have an abortion and secondly the media issue ‘designer babies’. Quaife’s dream highlights her fear of having a mutant, deformed baby, which the audience could arguably say this is an extreme way of portraying expectant mothers fears.

The metamorphosis within this film focuses on a cancerous, slow disfigurement and is both cruel and disturbing to watch. Just the very fact that you see the several stages of transformation makes your stomach churn! The fact its more graphic and intense than the 1958 metamorphosis not only tells us how advanced special effects have become, but is used to prove how the audience wants to be shocked and how the next generation has been evolved.

David Hedison portrayed a quite decorous fly-man, who for most of the film kept a black veil over the insect's head that topped his human body after a failed experiment. In David Cronenberg's new version, Jeff Goldblum is a graphic fly for the fact-crazed 80's, transformed into a creature so repulsive he makes the monster in ''Aliens'' look like Grandma in a Norman Rockwell painting. (James Caryn 1986)


Humanity - when does he stop being a human? Or is humanity intact to the end even after his transformation. Within the final transformation - when he holds the gun to his head, that Quaife is pointing - some might say there is more compassion and humanity shown there then when Brundle’s appearance is more human. Almost as if at the beginning of the metamorphosis, when Brundle’s personality changes, becoming more erratic and forceful, he shows less humanity then when the physical transformation takes its course. This is reflected in the narrative when he kidnaps Quaife to stop her aborting his baby.
Fig.3
The make-up of the cancerous transformation is gruesome and is not for the squeamish, with the loss of hair, teeth, nails and various body parts including the ear. Chris Walas designed and created the Academy Award winning make-up used to portray the protagonists metamorphosis into ‘Brundlefly’ and originally the transformation was used as a metaphor for ageing.

Firmly rooted in the type of film he does best, Cronenberg unleashes a series of nauseating effects as Goldblum transforms into a fly over a period of weeks. Along with his looks goes his personality and while this provides some tension, it really is the gruesome nature of his downfall that is the main feature of this otherwise unremarkable film. (Almar Haflidason 2000)


List of illustrations

Figure 1. Cronenberg, David (1986) The Fly Movie Poster. At http://www.horrorphile.net/the-fly-1986/ (Accessed on: 25/09/11)

Figure 2. Cronenberg, David (1986) Quaife's dream. At http://www.horrorphile.net/the-fly-1986/ (Accessed on: 25/09/11)

Figure 3. Cronenberg, David (1986) Transformation from Brundle to 'Brundlefly'. At http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BrundleStages.JPG (Accessed on: 25/09/11)


Bibliography

Film4 (unspecified reviewer/date posted) The Fly. At http://www.film4.com/reviews/1986/the-fly (Accessed on: 28/09/11)

BBC Almar Haflidason (2000) The Fly (1986). At http://www.bbc.co.uk/2000/07/21/fly1986_review.shtml (Accessed on: 28/09/11)

New York Times Review James Caryn (1986) Film: The Fly (1986) Film: 'Thw Fly,' With Jeff Goldblum. At http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=A0DE0D71438F936A2575BC0A960948260 (Accessed on: 28/09/11)

2 comments:

  1. Hey Lydia,

    Lots of content - good - but some style pointers; try using your quotes in a more integrated way - at the moment you're marooning them from your own commentary - as if they're separate, when you're trying to bring all the elements together to make a coherent critique. In future, I'd like to see you integrating them and then reflecting on their content (this is the point of using evidence!). So consider:

    As Almar Haflidason argues, "Firmly rooted in the type of film he does best, Cronenberg unleashes a series of nauseating effects as Goldblum transforms into a fly over a period of weeks. Along with his looks goes his personality and while this provides some tension, it really is the gruesome nature of his downfall that is the main feature of this otherwise unremarkable film". (Haflidason: 2000). Here, Haflidason suggests the film is a vehicle for the special effects, but it can be argued that it is the performances that...'

    You see - you introduce and then you reflect on the content; also, be sure to italicise your quotes and put them between "", and the Harvard is just the surname followed by the date.

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  2. Thanks for the feedback, will make sure my other reviews are structured with integrated quotes.

    ReplyDelete