The Fly – 28 Years Later

MY COMPARISON REVIEW ON THE FLY (1958) AND DAVID CRONENBERG?S THE FLY (1986)

BY PAUL GALEA

The original 1958 version was ok for its time, directed by Kurt Neumann. The screenplay was written by James Clavell which is based on the short story of the same name by George Langelaan. The story is about a scientist who is accidently teleported with a common housefly which leads to monstrous events. With some known names attached to it like Vincent Price (Francois Delambre), David Hedison (Andre Delambre) and Patricia Owens (Helene Delambre). Unfortunately the way the story was adapted and not very well thought out due to plot holes, and the man and fly transformation not making much sense. Also with wooden acting, and no emotion in the performances makes the audience not want to care about the characters and what?s happening to them. The special make-up effects and production values were fine in the day, but very dated now. It was quite influential and successful enough to spawn two sequels RETURN OF THE FLY (1959) and CURSE OF THE FLY (1965). Law of the diminishing comes into play as each one of them is worse than the last.

28 years David Cronenberg was approached to direct a remake of THE FLY. He said he would only do it if he had joint control over the script with Charles Edward Pogue again based on the short story by George Langelaan. The result is total revision of the story to the 1958 version, with a much stronger story, tapping into the fear of losing your identity and the universal fear of getting old and dying. Unlike the original the transformation sequence is very slow and gradual, David Cronenberg insisted on having the scientist being able to articulate what is happening to him and so the emotions and understanding become more poignant and also more tragic. The lead actors are excellent; Jeff Goldblum (Seth Brundle) and?Geena Davis (Veronica Quaife aka Ronnie) play their parts so believably well. They show so much range and emotion you can?t help but be sucked into what is happening to them. John Getz does a wonderful job as the embittered ex-boyfriend (Sathis Barnes). As the film progresses all of them are transformed in different ways, not just Brundle’s physical appearance but his acceptance of what is happening to him makes him a monster and a threat. Ronnie’s transformation is due to watching the man she loves changing mentally and physically. Barnes? transformation in a way is the biggest one, starting off being bitter and not really accepting Ronnie?s breaking up with him, and now being Brundle’s rival. By the end of the film he realises he genuinely loves her and wants to protect her, but he’s out of his depth and is nearly killed by Brundle. The last moments of the film are some of the most emotional in its genre’s history. The special make up effects are superb for its time, and won an academy award in 1987. The film was followed by THE FLY II in 1989 which was a very adequately made sequel which follows shortly after where the first left off.

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