Sunday, 25 September 2011

Kurt Neumann’s The fly (1958) Review

The Fly, directed by Kurt Neumann is the original sci-fi, horror and thriller version made in 1958. The film tells the tragic story of a scientist who experiments with teleportation of objects and living things finds himself having an arm and a head of a fly which had unknowingly entered into the transfer chamber.
Fig 1: Film Poster of The Fly
Set a rich home in Montreal, the film begins with François Delambre being called late at night by his sister-in-law, Helen Delambre (Patricia Owen). She confesses to him that she has committed murder of her beloved husband, the scientist Andre Delambre (played by David Hedison) using the press of their plant to press his head and left hand. François calls Inspector Charas to question Helene about the murder and later convinces her to explain about the motives:
“He put his head and his arm under the press?”
  
“Yes.”
“Why?”
“I cannot answer that question.”
“Coffee, Inspector?”
“Yes, please.”


(The Fly Script, K, S and D, 1958)

This results in the film going into non linear format showing a flashback and reveals the events that led to the scientist’s death. The flashback effect was made using a ripple of faded in of colours to recreate the sense of stepping back in time. As the story builds on, there is a “happy rich family” atmosphere within the characters as well as the romancing between Andre and Helene. Whilst Andre is demonstrating the works of his latest creation, the special effects used (such as the stop motion for the object to disappear and reappear between the chambers) convinced the audience to believe that such things like that can be true. The use of big cinema tapes, neon lights, coloured buttons and flashing lights also emphasizes the director’s view of “futuristic technology” during that time.

Fig 2:The Andre-fly creature

The film also teases the audience with the reference of the fly from time to time, in particular the part where Francois questions Helene about the couple’s personality:
"Did your brother ever experiment with animals?"
"Insects?"
"No. Though that would be funny, if..."
"They wouldn't harm anything."
"Not even a fly.”

(The Fly Script, K, S and D, 1958)
  by Andre instructing Helene do various tasks, from getting him a bowl of milk laced with rum to importantly, to look for the fly with “a white head”. Though the line: "It's no good calling to me or saying anything.""I can't answer. I can't speak." (The Fly Script, K, S and D, 1958), It quite contradicts how Andre responds to Helene as he points and knocks; however it also emphasizes how serious Andre’s condition is in. As Helene enters the inventing room, Andre is seen with his right arm in his pocket and a dark sheet of material on his head, covering his face and not revealing the appearance to the audience. Though a long search quest in finding the fly seems unsuccessful, Helene pleads to Andre to go back to the chamber to see would it work without the fly. With no music in the background but Helene hoping that her husband is back in one piece in the chamber, she runs up to him and takes off the sheet from his head only to have the match on match editing between a Close Up shot of Helene’s shock and the fly’s head along with some high pitched discordant notes to depict the shock and horror of this creature.
Next day, Helene discovers that her husband has not touched his dinner that was left outside of his inventing room. Though Andre is not shown within these scenes, it is hinted that something dreadful has happened to him, depicted by Helene reading out messages implying he cannot speak but was involved in a serious accident and is in no danger. This is followed

Chaos builds up with the discordant music crescendos to loud and Andre battling his human consciousness against the fly, which results the destruction of the inventing room and the chambers. The music changes to a mellow tune of the violin as Andre writes on the chalkboard, “Love You” for the last time before the fly’s conscious consumes his. Andre leads Helene to the press machine which determinedly; to end his suffering Helene pushes the button.Although that segment does not contain any sort of violence only the mere match on match editing between close up shots of Helene pressing the button to press on Andre and the top part of the press machine. She does this twice which then the scene reverts back to the continuation before the flashback began. The scene ends with Inspector Charas and François discover the fly with the “white head” now shown with the miniaturised head and right arm of Andre, stuck on a web about to be eaten by a spider yells:Help me! Please help me! Help me!” Until Charas kills both of them with a rock, which Francois points out to Charas that he has killed a “fly with a human head just like she killed a human with a fly head.” (The Fly Script, K, S and D, 1958)The film ends with Philippe, the son of Andre and Helene being told how his father died because of his work and lastly ends with Francois and Philippe going to the zoo.

This film could be depicted as a requited love story between husband and wife, which is shown by
Helene fulfilling his last wishes for love and nothing else.

Fig 3:The requited love between husband and wife.
The basic moral from this film is that people can’t play God and interfere with nature as this can result in horrific consequences. The moral dates back to the Greek mythology, which humans who were too full of themselves were punished by the Gods and were transformed to animals or grotesque creatures, which as what Almar Haflidason, "A sad story of considerable pathos despite the ridiculous plot". (Haflidason, A. 2003)

Overall, the film was successful in convincing the audience the horrors and ideas, which “happens to be one of the better, more restrained entries of the "shock" school.” (Thompson, H.1958). And according to Kevin Johnson (Johnson,K. 1958), “Jump scares and bizarre occurrences are replaced with scenes of careful pacing, expert direction, and real dread.” it was also deemed as having good for character development and plot during that time.

List of Illustrations:
Fig 1:The Fly (1958) Poster Art (online image):
-(accessed on 20/09/2011)
Fig 2: The Fly (1958) signed autograph by David Hedison (online image):
-(accessed on 20/09/2011)
Fig 3:Andre and Helene Delambre (David Hedison and Patricia Owen) (Online Image):
-(accessed on 20/09/2011)
  
Bibliography:

K, S and D (1958) The Fly script (online):
(accessed on 20/09/2011)
Haflidason, A (2003) Top Critics: The Fly film reviews. (online):
(accessed on 20/09/2011)

Thompson, H (1958) The Screen: Hair-Raiser; The Fly' Is New Bill at Local Theatres-Movie Review: The Fly 1958 (online):
Johnson,K. The Fly (1958) Movie Review (online):

4 comments :

  1. A well written and insightful review. Good stuff.

    One note though, you need to include a reference in the text itself. Right now it's difficult to see where the quotes are coming from. It makes it easier for whoever is marking your essay to trace back to your sources. Basically it protects you from plagiarism claims (very important!)

    Even though I can see them in the text, I'm struggling to follow up some of your bibliography. Here's a standard example of how to do it.

    Basically, at the end of the quote you need to put this (Authors name, date of publication) so an example one would read:

    In his comment Tom Beg says "quote here" (Beg, 2011)

    Then in the bibliography you have your full reference.

    Hope that helps.

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  2. Hey Joey - Tom's absolutely right about the referencing - you'll soon get the hang of it, but this is a sincere, authentic review, and you've obviously worked hard on it. This is very encouraging, so well done, and keep it coming! :D

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  3. oh - for a good example of a review that is ticking all the boxes in terms of structure and referencing see Meg's at http://meg-leslie.blogspot.com/2011/09/kurt-neumanns-fly-1958.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi all, thank yous for the feedbacks! I've managed to make the changes on the review, so hope it looks better than before!! :D

    ReplyDelete