14 October 2017

A few harmless thoughts on David Cronenberg’s The Fly

There may, or there may not, follow spoilers.  I’ll try to avoid spoilers.  I know how disappointing they can be.  But, although, yes, I shall try, I am making no guarantee.  Because I just may riff.

When Seth Brundle tells Ronnie that something is ‘missing’—that because what he has succeeded in ‘teleporting’ is inanimate matter, but that his efforts are not successful until he can teleport living creatures—of course, he is entirely wrong.  The ability to teleport even inanimate items across space is a huge accomplishment;  think how it would simplify (or might) the postal service.  But, of course, that would not have made the movie.  We might likewise advise Othello, “Hey, what if you just ask her about the handkerchief?”

At last, I watched the whole movie last night.  There’s quite a lot of it that I hadn’t seen before. But (somehow) I had seen all the “shocker” bits ... so that (very much like my later fondness for Ridley Scott’s Alien) I could watch the whole with reasonable equanimity.  Still, it is something of a wringer to watch.  Which is really the power and the art of the undertaking.  It is impartially true that I saw much last night, upon which my gaze never fell earlier.  But I do half wonder if some of what I took as new last night, may have been frames which I had seen before, but as I was still in shock over previous gore, I did not mark the scene at the time.  It is possible.

There are many excellent and understated bits of humor.  (Mostly in the first half-ish of the movie, well, sure.)  “Designer phone booths” is (if by now sufficiently anachronistic that the next generation will probably fail to get the joke entirely) wicked sharp.  Before this, when Ronnie first enters the lab, and Seth sits down at the piano and plays “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” à la energetic lounge pianist (that looks practically like an oxymoron, but let it stand) it is a rarely delicious musical moment in the cinema of our day. (Did Goldblum play it himself, or did he but mime expertly? Wonder if we learn, in the commentary....)

I nearly wrote that the score is surprisingly romantic, but in fact part of the impact of the horror (it is not all merely gross-out scares) is, the romance between Brundle and Ronnie.  I certainly did not know that this was a Howard Shore score, before.

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