it's still rather soon after Halloween, perhaps a "horror movie"
ought to make it into this inaugural column for the newsletter.
So let's pick a fairly recent one, but a great one too.
is Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg's shrewd remake of the original
1950's American version that starred Vincent Price (you can find this
one as Videotape no. 6169). But it's a much more ambitious,
intelligent and affecting film.
that this Fly's science is much more plausible, even though
it's updated to include speculative fancies about the effects of
genetic recombination. How
the predicament that this speculative hook causes is built around two
people, makes the film special and suggestive.
Jeff Goldblum is a brilliant, socially awkward and secretive
scientist who invents a practical teleportation device. Geena Davis is
the science journalist who stumbles upon him and his work, and falls in
love with the man. His disastrous experiment--with himself as the guinea
pig, spurred on by a lover's insecurity--causes him at first
exhilaration and seemingly superhuman physical abilities. but then
makes him to undergo an awful, gradual mutation into an alienated
creature with fly-like characteristics. The viscous, oozing creature
effects may certainly be nausea-inducing-but there's more than meets
recall one critic who, intending cleverness, perhaps spoke more truly
than he meant. The Fly is an ill-fated love story, the same old
theme: He changes. She doesn't.
film is simultaneously a literal and metaphorical realization of this
idea, provoking all the feelings that any sympathetic viewer might bring
to it from his or her own experience in life. It's just more direct
and intense, as art often is. It's also, some have said, a metaphor
for our reaction to and experience of disease.
Not necessarily AIDS in particular, but Cronenberg himself has
said that the film was a way for him to come to terms with his own
father's terrible, wasting illness.
you view this film first as a story about human beings rather than
horror effects, you may find yourself mingled in terror and pity. At one
point Goldblum's scientist is revoltingly misshapen and pustulant, his
facial appendages starting to rot away. Alarmed, Davis's lover closes
the distance between them in a spontaneous embrace, overcome by
bewildered fear and love. An unobservant viewer might simply recoil:
"Ugh! How can she embrace him like that?!" But if you're in sync
with the relationship that the actors and filmmaker have subtly built,
you'll at once feel why recoiling can only be a thought-and the
overriding embrace is natural, even inevitable. While the film was in
production, Davis and Goldblum were becoming a couple for real, and this
probably helps their chemistry on screen.
has a heartbreaking passage that caps its greatness.
Goldblum is aware that he is about to undergo change beyond the
pale, into a realm where he cannot anticipate or control his behaviors
as the human being in him once did (that is, as well as any of us
imperfectly can, especially under the influence of love). He muses about
his fate to lover Davis: "I am a fly who dreamed he was a man, and
loved it. But now I'm awake, and a fly again.. You'd better go.
I'm afraid I may hurt you." This is a slight paraphrase of the
dialogue, but in context of the story that's gone before, with its
personal and modern scientific dimensions-not to mention the
turned-on-its-head allusion to Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis here-this
scene it speaks for seems to crystallize the whole human predicament of
the film. and perhaps brings many viewer to tears.
short, a great film regardless of genre, and perhaps Cronenberg's
first widely acknowledged masterpiece. (Myself, I'd claim Videodrome (DVD 102) as an
earlier one-but that's another story, and perhaps another column
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