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Fly, The

Entry updated 16 January 2023. Tagged: Film.

1. Film (1958). Twentieth Century Fox. Directed by Kurt Neumann. Written by James Clavell, based on "The Fly" (June 1957 Playboy) by George Langelaan. Cast includes Al (David) Hedison, Patricia Owens and Vincent Price. 94 minutes. Colour.

A Scientist experimenting with Matter Transmission accidentally gets mixed with a fly and ends up with its head and arm (or leg). He has retained his own brain, however, and with the help of his wife tries to reverse the procedure. But the complementarily deformed fly refuses to be caught, and the scientist is driven to commit Suicide by putting his head in a steam press. The final sequence shows the fly, with tiny scientist's head and arm, trapped in a spider's web and screaming "Help me!" (which makes one wonder where the fly's brain ended up). An absurd film whose ludicrous excesses are amusing, and lavishly produced for a horror/Monster movie, it was a financial success and spawned two low-budget sequels, Return of the Fly (1959) and Curse of the Fly (1965). [JB]

2. Film (1986). Brooksfilms/Twentieth Century Fox. Directed by David Cronenberg. Written by Charles Edward Pogue, Cronenberg, based on the George Langelaan story as above. Cast includes Geena Davis, John Getz and Jeff Goldblum. 100 minutes, cut to 96 minutes. Colour.

This blackly comic remake is radically more sophisticated and more horrific than its original. In this version the (this time unmarried) scientist's accident leads to a melding of genetic material, and his transformation into fly is gradual and protracted. With it comes a sexual and creative potency and a capacity for destruction hitherto only latent in the idealistic, repressed Seth Brundle, movingly acted by Goldblum. As usual Cronenberg confronts the vulnerable and ephemeral nature of the human body by imagining it metamorphosed; where other people use words to create metaphor, Cronenberg uses the flesh, ambiguously evoking exultation and disgust, the grotesque and the beautiful. [PN]

see also: Cinema; Sex.


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