The Fly: Cronenberg's Abject World Of Mutation

David Cronenberg's take on the 1958 classic The Fly is remarkable.  In the original we simply have a science gone awry parable, whereas the remake offers us a god complex and a philosophy on decomposition as only Cronenberg can.

Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is a reclusive scientist who has been working on the theory and practice of teleportation for six years and the moment his dreams come true, a nightmare is created.

Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) is a reporter that chats up Brundle at a science convention.  She finds him charming and decides to go home with him.  Once they arrive at Brundle's loft/lab/home their fates are sealed.  To impress her, he teleports her stocking across the room.  This is the beginning of the end for Brundle.

He pushes his experiments further and faster to continue to impress Veronica.  When he is finally able to teleport a Baboon without it turning inside out Brundle understands it is only a matter of time before his contribution to science will change transportation forever.  Unfortunately, due to jealousy and drunkeness he truncates the timing and decides to attempt teleporting himself.  The experiment is a success with one minor caveat, a housefly joins him in the chamber.

A few hours after his success he feels revitalized - a new man - a god.  He is only granted this ubermunch mentality for a short time before he learns what he is truly becoming: Brundlefly.

The transformation into Brundlefly is what the film is known for.  The Kafkaesque man to insect plays out for shock value while still maintaining the integrity of the storyline.  The practical effects used in the disintegrating metamorphosis could rival anything produced today.  When one references elements as being Cronenbergian they are referring to scenes of an abject medical abomination and nothing solidifies this more than the vomiting decaying tumorous Brundlefly.

Cronenberg's issues with maternity and birth come up again in The Fly, culminating in one of his many cameos.  The question of abortion is brought up when Veronica becomes pregnant and dreams of giving birth to a maggot (pulled from the womb by director David Cronenberg himself).  There is a familial sensibility that is covered here like The Brood.  Brundlefly doesn't want his offspring destroyed and in a poignant dialogue expresses that it may be the only part of his human life that carries on, but soon after he decides that a mother-father-child-fly mutation would be the perfect hybrid.  Only in a Cronenberg universe can that sentence make any sense.

We know from the horrible Fly II that a son is born, but because the film is too aweful to view we don't really know what continuation Cronenberg had in mind.  Recently there have been talks of a real sequal helmed by the Dr. of doom but only time will tell.  We may have to wait until he gets Viggo out of his system before he returns to the genre that empowered him.



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