I saw David Cronenburg’s The Fly on the big screen when it was first released. I enjoyed then, and I still enjoy it now, so it has withstood the test of time — certainly far better than its predecessor has.
Seth Brundle [Jeff Goldblum] is a scientist who is so far out of the cutting edge of research that he’s become something of a joke to colleagues. He is attempting to prove his theory that instantaneous matter transference is possible. If it is possible it would change the world — imagine being able to transmit packages and people instantly anywhere in the world, it would be the end of cars, public transport, airlines, the postal system, but would probably just open the door to new and interesting forms of junk mail.
Veronica Quaife [Geena Davis] is an investigative journalist for a scientific trade magazine, whom Seth Brundle offers a scoop on his theory. The process is almost complete and in the final stages of bug testing, and Veronica Quaife agrees to document the final stages of the project that include the transmission of a living creature.
Stathis Borans [John Getz] is Veronica’s editor and ex-boyfriend, who thinks Brundle is just another crank.
The film starts off as something of a love story, with Veronica falling for the withdrawn and eccentric Seth and wooing him.
As Seth gets closer to completing his project and fears having it ripped out from under him when he is so close to a result, he forgets about scientific detachment and uses himself as a test subject. A fly accidentally enters the teleportation chamber and the computer, not receiving any other instruction on what to do with extraneous objects, slices the human and fly genes together.
Seth doesn’t realise the accident has occurred, but his increasingly erratic behaviour gives Veronica cause for concern. She discovers the anomaly first and forces Seth to face the truth, but by this time he has started to change physically.
Veronica fears her pregnancy to Seth may result in a similarly mutated child and seeks a termination with Stathis’ help, only to be prevented by Seth.
The film is extremely dark — both in tone and visually — and as Seth starts to physically change, quite gruesome. Cronenberg is not afraid to push his audience to extremes with graphic violence, such as Seth breaking a punters arm in a pub.
The actors are superb, making their characters fully dimensional and believable. You do feel for them as they are put through the wringer as the plot carries them along. The set design is incredible, especially the teleportation pods and the visual effects are very impressive, if heading towards less palatable arenas as the film progresses.
If you’re familiar with other David Cronenberg movies, like Scanners and The Brood, you’ll probably know what to expect. But if you’re more familiar with the campy 1958 version of The Fly you will be in for quite a shock. Cronenberg’s Fly takes a silly Saturday morning cartoon style science gone mad concept and drags it into the far more frightening and realistic light of modern science.
David Cronenberg’s work is very polarising and The Fly is no exception, you will either love it or hate it. And basing it on his other work is not a very good yard stick either — one one end you have his wonderfully understated depiction of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone and on the other end you have Dead Ringers, which is probably the most disturbing movie I have ever seen.
So go and grab a copy on video and decide for yourself. And watch out for David Cronenberg in a cameo as a gynaecologist during Veronica’s nightmare.
Published Epinions — 23.07.2000
Published WrittenByMe — 11.05.2001
DVD available from Amazon, Amazon UK and DevotedDVD