Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Fly (David Cronenberg)


Before anything else, even now, I still can't believe that I have bought a copy of "The Fly" from a legitimate store for a whopping 25 pesos (that's around 50 cents in American currency), while countless copies of Asylum-produced films like "Transmorphers" and "The Day the Earth Stopped" (Really, they thought someone would fall for that?) are there in the same store sitting comfortably in their overly expensive asses. Oh wait, a film called "Fargo" also sits in the lonely 25 bucks rack. Damn, really.

Now, moving on, I think it's quite refreshingly sardonic for director David Cronenberg and screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue (who adapted his screenplay from the 1958 original and also from the George Langelaan short story) to use an irrelevant insect to shockingly introduce us to the narrative's true frightening pulse. The film could have also worked on a much lighter level if its anomaly would have rooted out from the simple idea of the teleportation device itself, but the film took this common science fiction nugget into the real extremes, not just for the sake of it, but to offer something more.

Now we see the downside of intellectual grandeur not just by how it portrays the toll it gives to a man who has one mentally and socially (living in isolation, a lousy hair, Einstein references and the like), but also physically. The film of course focused more on the very last. But that focus that may seem, at first glance, too shallow a center point for a film, was emotionally balanced by enough doses of drama and "Frankenstein"-ish goth romance. What differentiates "The Fly" from Mary Shelley's literary classic, though, is how the first specifically merged both the 'fiend' and Victor Frankenstein in one wholeness, in the form of Jeff Goldblum's Seth Brundle character.

How he turned into that ghastly, slimy and monstrous creature, that is where the story's Olympian god-like intervention and alteration of the characters' motives and actions take full command of the film. Like the fly inside the teleporter plot mischief, Seth Brundle's motive as to why he carelessly attempted (and technically succeeded) to teleport himself was for one simple reason. No, not those complex internal conflicts regarding a self-debate of how he can change the world and himself by way of molecularly transporting himself through electricity and wires and stuff, but for the simple fact that he was crazy drunk (with a baboon as sole company) during the time.

Like the Coen brothers that seem to laugh at their protagonist's (especially in their neo-noirs) own misdemeanors and faux pas as they go helplessly and hay-wire insane from one situation to another, Cronenberg brilliantly manifests this unconscious natural albeit peculiar flow of existence that purely enunciates that sometimes, things, particularly the crazy ones, just happen. But from this initial, almost comic-like hammering of nails to seal Brundle's 'unfortunate fate', "The Fly", after being initially founded by an uneasy but evidently passionate romance between scientist Seth and journalist Veronica (played by Geena Davis, who later became more renowned as Thelma in "Thelma and Louise"), is emotionally intensified not mainly by its visual horror but by the sheer idea of love.

Through this way, the film became more or less a much relentless horror. A horror of choice. The film instantly became more concerned not about who kills who or who goes where or who decapitates which body part, but what it really takes to give up something. Would you relish love all the same even when the one you continuously love is a physical manifestation of hate and disgust? "The Fly", surprisingly, answered immediately with a not-so-subtle shotgun blast, then a fade to black. Not seeing what happens next is an extreme rarity among science fiction horrors. Not even the most recent "Splice" denied us a peak of an uncertain epilogue.

This is the thing that will surely be a constant reminder as to why I 'll always place "The Fly" on a separate field of existence, far from other films of its kind. It is this brave adamant stance to refuse us the answer to the question "What happened next?" that took me into "The Fly's" almost hypnotic spell of fright, bodily fluids and mad love.

It is this film's shining ability to just live in the moment, the beginning, middle, end and all, and forget about any prolonged post-carnage drama that convinced me of its audacious greatness. Fast-forwarding through the film in weary anticipation of a surprise post-credits sequence and subsequently finding out that there's none, there's this slight sigh of relief. Post-carnage drama? I believe Veronica's brief but infinitely tragic weeping is enough. I was moved, alright.


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