The second film we watched from the ‘Shapeshifters’ film programme was David Cronenberg's ‘The Fly’ which is a remake based on the original film directed by Kurt Neumann in 1958.
The story follows the genius scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) who has created a matter transportation machine but unfortunately it has a few glitches. After several attempts at fixing the problems, including several horrific mishaps, Seth manages to get the machine to work and tests it on himself only to be integrated with a fly that got into the machine at the same time.
The 1980's were a time when the AIDS epidemic was in full effect and awareness of the disease caused a huge fear in the transmission of bodily fluids. A large number of safe sex campaigns started every in the world to help prevent the spread of the disease. When Cronenberg's 'The Fly' was lauched to the viewing public, they assumed that the film was an allegory for the AIDS epidemic, due to the grotesque bodily changes of Goldblum's character. However this was not what Cronenberg had in mind for this film:
"Many saw the film as an allegory for AIDS, which Cronenberg denied while welcoming the interpretation."
To me, the idea Cronenberg had was to explore the physical changes and characteristics of Goldblum, that were typical of the fly he 'fused' with, ie. craving sugar or being able to walk on walls. Cronenberg explores these new changes and characteristics in such depth that it almost make Goldblum's transformation real. He even goes as far as to have the changes documented in the film which suggests to me his fascination of the physical and instinctual changes.
The appearance of the physical changes in the original film by Neumann and those used by Cronenberg drastically differ. In Neumann's version the human/fly hybrid is effectively a man with a fly's head and arm. In Cronenberg's, he makes Goldblum's transformation a full body experienceand shows the changes gradually take place:
"David Cronenberg's remake of the 1958 horror classic The Fly is not for the squeamish."
This is definitely the case for this film. The transformations and special effects are fantastically horrific for their time with the loss of teeth and nails, deformation and puss! It even goes as far as making a 'museum' in the film of all the changes in the body.
"Along with his looks goes his personality"
Like its predecessor, this film looks at the change in personality of the metamorphic subject. Goldblum goes from an enthusiastic, brilliant minded scientist to a deranged, obsessive 'thing'. Of course though these changes occur in conjunction with the physical; the more his body deteriorates and changes, so does his mind.
I have seen this film multiple times but it was so much better viewing it on a big screen. This was a very enjoyable film and with a big screen comes intensified horror and disgust which I loved (even though it was a bit sickly). Again the messages that were conveyed through the film were made quite clear, as were the consequences!
Quote 1 - http://www.cinemaviewfinder.com/2010/09/cronenberg-blogathon-fly-1958-vs-fly.html
Quote 2 - http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117790989.html?categoryid=31&cs=1
Quote 3 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2000/07/21/fly1986_review.shtml