FLY, THE, 2 disc SE: DVD
Seth Brindle (Jeff Goldblum) believes he has found the scientific answer for transporting matter - teleportation - and offers journalist Veronica Quaif (Geena Davis) a scoop opportunity to observe his experiment with himself as the living subject. The experiment is complicated when a fly enters one of the booths at the wrong moment, and Brindle emerges a changed man. Brindle begins a slow metamorphosis, but is it slow enough to give him time to find a reversal treatment?
The Fly's only Oscar was for Best Make Up, but the film is ranked by many as one of the best horror/sci-fi films ever made, by the man who gave us Spider (2002). (No, Spider wasn't the sequel, David Cronenberg has better taste than that.) The Fly takes the Lengalaan story from the 50s (Belgian writer George Lengalaan's story in 1957 led to the 1958 movie starring Vincent Price), but Cronenberg and his team reworked many elements and updated the setting - though not so much as to make it futuristic, at least not by today's standards.
One reason why the film works so well - and so timelessly - is that it's driven not by sci-fi gizmos but by the sort of concept that has made Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde a classic. It's the old science gone a tad mad scenario, with a twist that almost borders on existentialism. In other words, it's about the human condition, and becoming a fly is certain to make us question what that is!
Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis (who were a romantic item at the time) are perhaps not the most realistic scientist and reporter types, but they are good enough actors so the credibility gap is bridged. Their on screen relationship, another crucial ingredient, is central to the impact of the story on the audience, because when Seth begins to transform, we are watching for Veronica's reactions.
Rated R for its occasionally graphic moments, mostly after Seth has morphed into the fly, this is a thinking man's horror movie, always relevant, all too universal and yet surprisingly intimate.
Cronenberg's commentary on the DVD is fairly dry, even when he's talking about a scene with the baboon being buzzed by a fly, and how they attached a fly to a fishing line made of light bulb filaments so it couldn't be seen on camera. No digital wire removal technology in those days! It's an amusing scene, with the baboon swatting at the fly.
The extras on Disc 2 make a good package to complete the sense of documenting the film's creation and it's craftsmanship. Amongst these is a short but funny item in which Cronenberg, wearing a jokey head piece and play wings scrambles up the test walls of a room, like a fly. It's called Cronenfly in the menu ...
By far the most interesting, though, are the two featurettes (one 4 minutes, the other 7) from 1986, with the young cast and a young director, a 20 year leap back in time that is both instructive and entertaining for its nostalgia value.
April 6, 2006
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FLY, THE, 2 disc SE: DVD (R)
CAST: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel, Leslie Carlson, George Chuvalo, David Cronenberg
PRODUCER: Stuart Cornfeld
DIRECTOR: David Cronenberg
SCRIPT: David Cronenberg, Charles Edward Pogue (George Lengalaan story)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mark Irwin
EDITOR: Ronald Sanders
MUSIC: Howard Shore
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Carol Spier
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc 1: commentary by David Cronenberg. Disc 2: Making of The Fly (Fear of the Flesh); Brundle Museum of Natural History; deleted scenes; 1986 electronic press kit with making of featurette and Cronenberg profile; original article and screenplay, plus Cronenberg's re-write; various magazine articles; test footage from pre-production; stills galleries
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Ent
DVD RELEASE: February 8, 2006