THE FLY - 1986
The Fly is a 1986 science fiction film produced by Brooksfilms and 20th Century Fox, directed by David Cronenberg, and starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz. It is a high budget remake of 1958 film of the same name, but with a substantially different plot. The soundtrack was composed by Howard Shore. This movie was shot in Toronto, Ontario.
The Fly was a box office success upon its release and was critically acclaimed in the press.
As with many of Cronenberg's films, The Fly deals with themes of bodily disfigurement or metamorphosis and the darker aspects of human emotions and behavior. The film also deals with the dangers of the misuse of science to terrible consequences. An underlying aspect of the story is the doomed love affair between Goldblum and Davis and the rivalry between Goldblum and Getz that results from this.
Goldblum plays Seth Brundle, a brilliant but eccentric scientist. He meets Veronica Quaife (Davis), a reporter at a convention. Brundle takes Veronica back to his place and shows her his invention: a set of devices that allow teleportation. She is highly impressed and agrees with Seth to act as a witness and document his work. Although the device can transport inanimate objects perfectly, it cannot do this with living things, turning them inside out. Seth demonstrates this with a baboon, killing it. Seth and Veronica begin a relationship, which inspires Seth. He realizes the machine is not perfectly recreating living objects but is rather "interpreting" them, and sets about adjusting his machine.
He succeeds in teleporting a baboon with no apparent harm. Flush with this success, and with his judgment impaired by alcohol and the worry that Veronica is rekindling her relationship with her boss and former lover Stathis Borans (Getz), he decides to teleport himself. Just as he's about to teleport, a fly gets into the pod with him. The computer, confused, splices together their DNA and Brundle gradually begins to transform into a hybrid (a "Brundlefly" as he calls it).
At first, Seth enjoys states of euphoria and heightened strength and endurance, especially in bed. As the metamorphosis progresses, he becomes violent and arrogant, and progressively less human in appearance, leaving sloughed-off human body parts in jars in his medicine cabinet. He also becomes incapable of eating solids and vomits digestive enzymes (which he refers to as "vomit-drop") that dissolve food and even flesh. Eventually, he realizes that not only is his body mutating, his mind is becoming more insect-like, brutal and driven by primitive appetites.
When he learns that Veronica is trying to have an abortion to rid herself of their possibly mutated child, he abducts her and traps her in a telepod, trying to restore his own humanity by fusing with her and their unborn child. Stathis Borans goes to her rescue but is injured and nearly killed by the almost fully-transformed Brundle, who dissolves Stathis' hand and foot with his corrosive vomit-drop. Stathis is spared death only by the pleading of Veronica, who begs Brundle not to kill him. Seth then undergoes his final transformation when his changed, more-insect-like body sheds the outer layer of decaying human flesh. However as the telepods are starting up, the wounded Borans manages to shoot the power cables connecting to Veronica's telepod so she escapes unharmed, and Brundlefly is gruesomely fused with chunks of metal from his own telepod door while trying to smash it open. As a final act of mercy, Veronica kills what used to be Seth Brundle.
The controversial sequel is The Fly II (1989). There has been some discussion as to whether the sequel "really" counts as a part of Cronenberg's Fly universe. Cronenberg feels that the stories in his films have defintiive beginning and endings, and he has never considered making a sequel to one of his own films (although others have made sequels to Cronenberg films, including Scanners (1981).
Upon its release, The Fly was praised for being more emotionally involving and genuinely poignant in comparison to Cronenberg's previous films, as well as having a certain simplicity and stylishness which set it apart from other, more gratuitous movies. Jeff Goldblum's tour-de-force performance was applauded as well, and many believe it to be his finest performance to this day.
The film was also widely taken to be about AIDS, although Cronenberg denies this and states that the subtext/metaphor of the film is the natural process of aging ans death. He states that "we've all got the disease, the disease of being finite." This, when coupled with the tragic love-story of the plot (harking back to films such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame) makes The Fly an all-too human film, albeit filled with Cronenberg's familiar obsessions and gruesome attention to detail. The spectacular "Brundlefly" make-up was given a 1986 Academy Award.
Seth: "Don't be afraid."
Seth: "I seem to be stricken by a disease with a purpose, wouldn't you say? Maybe not such a bad disease after all."
Veronica: "I can't stay here."
Seth (jumps onto floor): "No, no, no! Why not? Why can't you?"
Veronica: "I can't take it ... It's too much."
Seth: What's there to take? The disease has just revealed its purpose. We don't have to worry about contagion anymore ... I know what the disease wants."
Veronica: "What does the disease want?"
Seth: "It wants to ... turn me ... into something else. That's not too terrible, is it? Most people would give anything to be turned into something else."
Veronica: "Turned into what?"
Seth: "Whadda you think, a fly? Am I becoming a hundred-and-eighty-five pound fly? No, I'm becoming something that never existed before. I'm becoming ... Brundlefly. Don't you think that's worth a Nobel Prize or two?"
Seth: "You have to leave now, and never come back
here. Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I.
Insects ... don't have politics. They're very ... brutal. No
compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like
to become the first ... insect politician. Y'see, I'd like to,
but ... I'm afraid ...(groans)"
Jeff Goldblum — Seth Brundle
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