Monday, 4 October 2010

Film Review: The Fly 1958, Dir: Kurt Neumann

The Fly (1958) Directed by Kurt Neuann

This was my first viewing of the 1958 version of 'The Fly' having already seen the 1986 version by David Cronenburg. The story is very carefully unfolded, nothing is given away for the first half an hour or so. Instead we are treated to a what would have been a murder mystery style opening of a woman running away from a hydraulic press under which she killed her husband. Unfortunatley for any modern audience, the story is well worn and parodied in many films and cartoons as Brian Collins mentions in his review at "The only issue with this setup is related to time and legacy - we know perfectly well what happened, due to years of parodies and references, which makes this possibly the only movie where one could consider the beginning of the film to be more of a surprise than the ending." I would very much enjoy the film much more if I had no prior knowledge of 'The Fly' as a story because the way the suspense and mystery builds up

The Half Fly revealed!

Somthing that really struck me about the film, with Cronenburg's version in mind is the way that André (the 'mad' scientist) is not actually a deranged psycotic scientist but simply conscientious, involved in his attempt to improve the human experience or as Brandt Sponseller put it in his review for "David "Al" Hedison’s "mad-scientist" isn’t really mad, he’s just obsessed with his work, and it seems perfectly reasonable. Andre is a man on the verge of becoming the next Edison, Bell, or even more." André even reasons that the teleporter could be used to transport food and medical supplies in contrast to Jeff Goldblum's character in the 1986 version who is consumed by his work and comes to some unhealthly conclusions about his newfound self.

Vincent Price as Francios Delambre

The scene before the scream

There are some moments that are quite funny but this could be intentional or purely just the social gap betwen the 1950's and contemporary audiences. The ending of the film is one thing that strikes me as being odd, in modern films after some sort of horrible event there is some sort of healing or understanding but there are still mental scars left of the characters involved but in The Fly there is none of that, Vincent Price's character Francois seems to take up the role of Helene's lover and father figure to her son Phillipe completing the family unit. However the truly memorable ending to the film is when the fly that has become part man is trapped in a spider's web and is about to be devoured by a spider. The tiny fly cries out "Help me! Help me!" before the spider moves over it for the kill as the fly the screams before both the spider and the fly are crushed by Inspector Charas. Although it is the quite funny seeing a fly saying 'Help me' in a very squeeky voice the final scream is quite disturbing. Returning to Brandt's review, he sums up the scene by saying "...even allowing for the relatively primitive special effects and the occasionally lampooned late scene involving a spider web. That scene isn’t silly here. It’s gut wrenching and horrific, exactly as it should be." I agree whole heartedly with this statement, even though the ending has a rose-tinted finish the primal scream by the fly still haunts in the back of the mind till the creadits roll.

"Help Me! Help Me!"

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