Monday, 26 September 2011

David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986) Review

David Cronenberg’s version of The Fly is much more different compared to the original version in particular the story telling and the mise en scene. As a sci-fi, horror, drama, romance film, the film centres around the use of teleportation, only this time is handled by Seth Brundle (played by Jeff Goldblum) rather than Andre Delambre who experiments on teleportation of objects and living things, ends up becoming a human/fly hybrid.
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Fig 1:The Film's poster art

There are many similarities that Cronenberg has kept to closely link to the original film such as the losing of consciousness of Seth as he is being overtaken by the fly’s. Both films have kept the idea of teleportation chambers but with different designs such as Cronenberg’s “telepods” which consists of automatic door lock, voice command computers , and according to Carl Lyon (Monsters at; they were “actually modeled after the cylinder head of Cronenberg's Ducati motorcycle”.
The film’s storyline and setting are more different compared to Neumann’s version, like Seth lives in a secluded warehouse (which he calls his home and lab) who meets Veronica and falls in love. Whereas in the original, the film sets off with the loving, close knitted Delambre family in a rich house in which the husband Andre has an accident, exchanging his left and head of a fly’s. As for the differences in storyline, Cronenberg’s version has more of a linear structure and the fusion of fly and man results into one being however; in Neumann’s version the film starts with a flashback with man and fly exchanging body parts. But the film gradually continues from where the beginning had left off. The effect of teleportation between objects, both films used stop motions with flash added to “blind” the effect and smokes to emphasize the transformation result. They’ve both used the experimentation of animals, the Neumann version using the family pet cat and Cronenberg’s version using baboons.

Cronenberg’s version was a more about sex, drugs (or alcohol in this case) and love which was some of the most important elements in 80’s film, where as in the late 50’s love was more important than anything else. But because of this, Cronenberg’s version of The Fly turns out to be a very well acted and emotional love story in particular Jeff Goldblum’s acting by his “quirky and thoughtful portrayal of Seth Brundle brings a good degree of dynamism” ( Ramius Scythe,” It greatly surpasses the original '58 version.” (Derek327, IMDB). However, some critics claim that the film is a mere metaphor for Aids, cancer and even the aging process. The age of technology is also noticeable as Seth gives voice commands to a computer monitor with keyboard which responds to questions asked rather than neon lights, large cinema like disks with large buttons in Neumann’s version. The use of special effects were more advanced in the remake, such as the “inside out” baboon, the transformation of Seth to Brundle fly (using prosthetics and puppets for most vomit scenes) and the animatronics Brundle creature (or known as “space bug” by Cronenberg) . The special effects of Seth’s transformation were so extreme that they’ve even had Seth have his facial features like ears, hairs, teeth and fingers falling out and had kept them in a medicine cupboard as “souvenirs”. In one of his transformations, “He looks like The Thing from the Fantastic Four crossed with Rocky from that movie with Cher.” (Smirnoff, They were so convincing which had made Cronenberg well known for his gore atrocities, “the first external evidence of fly genes happen at the site of an injury (where new skin is growing) and for having Seth mention that at first he thought his altered genes would express themselves as a bizarre form of cancer, which they almost certainly would…” (Kelly Parks, “The special effects were very good for the eighties and the film does have some scary moments. If you've never seen the film you should.” (DunnDeeDaGreat, IMDB reviewer).

The opening of the film is quite slow, adding in some credits with various coloured backgrounds which resemble DNA, to keep with the theme of sci-fi. Similar to the original film, the story starts off as Seth, a scientist living in a secluded factory area meets Veronica Quaife (Played by Geena Davis), a journalist working for Particle magazine in an event held by Bartok Science industries which provides funding towards Brundle’s scientific works. He shows his latest work to Veronica, telepods which teleports inanimate objects from one telepod to the other. Veronica stays with Seth to be the “journalist who records one of the most amazing accomplishments in human history.” (Carl Lyon, 
Seth decides to experiment further, by using animals and later experimenting on himself after  Veronica leaves him to confront her editor and ex boyfriend , Stathis Borans (played by John Getz) who is threatening to publish her story because of Veronica’s  grown feelings for Seth. As Seth goes into the pods, a fly had entered into the same pod as Seth. However unlike the original film, Seth comes out normal with no visible effects but as the film progresses, he has newfound abilities like increased stamina and strength as well as developing fly -like characteristics like the ability to scale walls, vomiting acid out to eat food and appearance changes.  This experiment proves disastrous as over the course of the film it shows a man becoming less human and trying to retain it but is biologically being taken away from hi
Fig 2: The Brundlefly-telepod hybrid creature
Fig 3: The best picture for last- the "inside out" baboon
List of Illustrations:
Fig 1: Cronenberg, D (1986) The Fly poster art:
Fig 2: Brownlee, J (2007)7 Sci-Fi Horror Movies For Halloween. The brundlefly-telepod hybrid creature:
Fig 3: Edvard, A.J (2009) Deep In My Dreams. Inside out Baboon: -(accessed on 23/09/11)
Lyon, C. (1986) Review: The Fly (1986)(online):
DunnDeeDaGreat (2002), IMDB The Fly (1986)review (online):
Derek237(2003), IMDB The Fly (1986) review (online):
Smirnoff (2009), The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986) (oniline): -(accessed on 23/09/11)

Scythe,R (2010), The Fly (1986) review(online):

Parks, K (2000) The Fly -1986 (online):


  1. Hey Joey,

    Firstly - really sorry I didn't get to speak to you today after I said I would - sometimes time just runs away! You know, you do look sooo worried sometimes, I just want to magic away your anxiety and reassure you that all is going to be fine. It will, you know!

    Regarding your review - while it's obvious that you've taken your time, there's too much plot description in here. I can't help suggesting that you're wasting your time with telling us 'what happens' as opposed to dealing with the interesting stuff - i.e. - all the thematic stuff and the ideas at work in the film. The majority of your quotes are 'descriptive' too - in that they are observations about how things look. These can be useful, but you're missing a critical perspective. There is a knack to balancing critique with description - and you'll crack it, but again I point you at Meg's reviews for good example of this balance in action:

    Just notice the length of Meg's views - they're shorter, more focused and her range of quotes is very good.

    Also - take a look at Chrissie's The Fly review - another focused, content-rich, ideas-driven (not description-driven) commentary.

    I think you could try 'writing less' and 'saying more'... see how you get on with your next reviews.

  2. Hallo Phil, its ok no worries!! Ah you sound like my art teacher , says that I always had a worried face!! Do I really show that much? Guess I’ll have to wear a mask from now on!! hahaha I was just kinda confused on the OGR thingy, is it to write a review on the whole unit in the blog??