Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Fly, Dir: Kurt Neumann, 1958

Film Review- Natalie Urwin

Director: Kurt Neumann
Writer: James Clavell, George Langelaan
Stars: David Hendison, Patricia Owens, Herbert Marshall, Vincent Price, Kathleen Freeman, Betty Lou Gerson, Charles Herbert
Genre: Horror
Length: 89 Minutes
VHS: 1987
Country: USA

The main storyline of this film consists of, a scientist (David Hendison as Andre Delambre) in the 50’s invents a teleportation device and within his thirst for development puts a number of live  animals in the device (cat, guinea pig), with each fault he changes the calculations. When he thinks he has the device perfected he teleports himself as a test dummy. The first time he does this he comes out fine, the second time he fails to see a fly has flown into the pod with him and thus comes out of the opposite pod with a fly head and one arm instead of his own. 
The scientists wife (Patricia Owens as Helene Delambre)is notified by himself via notes he writes on a typewriter in his lab and slides under the door to her (he cannot speak with this fly head). There is a way to try a reversal of these effects, the wife and son must find the fly with a white head that escaped from the pod after the teleportation. 


The story then goes on to hint at characteristics of a fly such as eating mannerisms and an aggressive lack of care for anything but himself. At this stage, if the fly doesn't get found soon the mannerisms start to become unbearable. When these fly mannerisms become more severe the fly in him tries to harm his wife so he makes a decision to exterminate himself but needs his wife’s assistance. 


They go to a different part of the building which is a factory set-up. There is a large metal press in the middle of the scene. The scientist arranges all of the machinery settings and then places the fly parts of his body underneath the press and signals to his wife to press the button. Not surprisingly he gets squashed.





The plot overall seemed quite odd in my opinion. The scientific side of this I think is quite an interesting idea but the spin of this film with the scientist’s brother being in love with his wife and after all of the incredibly disturbing events that happened to this family the film ending on the wife, the son (Charles Herbert as Philippe Delambre) and the man’s brother (Vincent Price as Francois Delambre) playing happy families. There doesn’t look as if there is any grieving or traumatic response to what had happened, maybe this is how people reacted in the 1950’s but watching it 52 years on it has quite a strange feel. I know 'feel good happy endings' are how most films end and this one certainly showed a 'get over it and carry on' approach but to me this particular path of writing feels morally misplaced.
The timeline in this film starts with Helene Delambre phoning Francois Delambre (the brother in law) saying she just killed her husband (his brother). 

After a while in this time most of the film is taken up when the timeline 'shifts back in time to show us how this came to be.' (quoted by Brian Webster in his Apollo Movie Guide's Review). This is indicated by a 'dream like' section of ripples in water footage.

When she has finished telling her story she has caught up to present time. The detective thinks she is mentally insane so orders her to be taken away. 

While she is being prepared for the hospital the inspector and the brother find the fly with the scientist's face as the fly's head screaming for help on a spider's web and witness the spider kill the 'fly with his head and a rather useless human arm.' (http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2000/07/21/fly1958_review.shtml -author unknown).

 After all this, the time skips to a short while after these events and they play happy families.


The special effects make-up wasn't anything spectacular but for its time i'm sure it gave the audience a great horror feel. The acting was quite slow at times, I think the best reactions (or the funniest) were of the little boy, the script writing for his part were brilliant. Adult conversation coming from a child. The audience I sat with found these sections quite humorous. 
There was a general selection of camera angles, from close-ups to mid-far shots. The lighting was used to its advantage, showing a grimy looking laboratory and cold feeling industrial block after the transformation had occurred and the family settings and homely settings looked warm and safe. 






 I have also included a podcast from 'Filmsack' on this film

10 comments:

  1. I think I will need to re-do this post and learn from this one before I attempt any of the other films. I don't have any experience of reviewing films so i'm not sure how to frame them, I shall look into it more.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anatomy: Interim Online Review 05/10/2010

    Hey Nat,

    I’ve made my feelings clear via ‘Post with the Most’ regarding the effectiveness of your approach to this project; you are thorough, possess a formidable work ethic and a willingness to self-direct that others should – and will – learn from. The ‘unpacking’ of your creative development is great and it was with some relief that I saw you get to grips with those Maya dice. Your anxiety over this matter worried me, because that level of distress over performance is often the flipside of the high-achiever. Let me be very clear on this from the word go; burn out is a serious risk for those who wish to run before they can walk. It’s happened to students before – it will do so again. You are to enjoy this experience too, remember. It’s not a race. Enough said.

    Regarding your review of The Fly; comprehensively illustrated – good – but it was largely descriptive in tone, as opposed to analytical, with the majority of your observations commenting on the ‘datedness’ of the story conventions. In critical terms, this is actually a ‘non-criticism’ because it’s obvious to everyone that a film made in the 1950s will have aged. When analyzing a film (or book or game etc.) keep plot description to the absolute minimum required; for instance, The Fly, however ‘dated’, is thematically ‘current’, because anxiety regarding progress/technology and the merging of human/animal DNA remains as resonant now, as it was then. When reviewing, consider doing so from a thematic point-of-view, because themes etc. are immune to wonky special effects and bad acting. To comment on bad acting or wonky special effects in a b-movie is too much like shooting fish in a barrel!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Remember, your digital painting is a self-portrait, not simply a character or creature design; therefore, issues of likeness/semblance are important; don’t leave ‘Nat’ out of this DNA equation; for instance, in Avatar, while transformed, the actors likenesses shone through the cg wizardry, which leant humanity and even dignity to the hybrids. It’s a tough call, I know.

    No essay question posted, Nat? This means one of two things – 1) you’re not worried in the slightest about structuring your first academic assignment, or 2) you’re putting off thinking about it, because you’re worried about structuring your first academic assignment… Get something on your blog asap.

    Your blog; I’m going to suggest you rejig the template a little; while I’m already rather fond of the tiger painting that greets me, I always have to scroll down to get to the content. I’d like to see your CG specific work set the tone for your blog and be primary; something perhaps more expressive of these new territories you’re moving into. A bit of personal branding wouldn’t go amiss either; check out these second/third year blogs for some ideas…

    http://rubensblogpage.blogspot.com/
    http://ltsang.blogspot.com/
    http://wakkamole.blogspot.com/
    http://tombeg.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  4. A general reminder that, alongside everything else you need to have ready for crit day, you also need to submit an offline archive of your creative development blog. There is a way of exporting your blog as PDF via Blogger – which would be ideal for this purpose. Incase you missed the original post, Alan gives details here:

    http://ucarochester-cgartsandanimation.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-to-turn-your-blog-into-pdf-document.html

    And finally – now is the time to return to the brief; time and again, students fail to submit what they’ve been asked to produce – and how; usually because they haven’t looked properly at the brief, or haven’t done so since week one. Trust me on this; just take a few minutes with a highlighter pen to identify what is required, when, and how. Remember – non-submissions are dumb!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Remember, your digital painting is a self-portrait, not simply a character or creature design; therefore, issues of likeness/semblance are important; don’t leave ‘Nat’ out of this DNA equation; for instance, in Avatar, while transformed, the actors likenesses shone through the cg wizardry, which leant humanity and even dignity to the hybrids. It’s a tough call, I know.

    No essay question posted, Nat? This means one of two things – 1) you’re not worried in the slightest about structuring your first academic assignment, or 2) you’re putting off thinking about it, because you’re worried about structuring your first academic assignment… Get something on your blog asap.

    Your blog; I’m going to suggest you rejig the template a little; while I’m already rather fond of the tiger painting that greets me, I always have to scroll down to get to the content. I’d like to see your CG specific work set the tone for your blog and be primary; something perhaps more expressive of these new territories you’re moving into. A bit of personal branding wouldn’t go amiss either; check out these second/third year blogs for some ideas…

    http://rubensblogpage.blogspot.com/
    http://ltsang.blogspot.com/
    http://wakkamole.blogspot.com/
    http://tombeg.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  6. (Apologies for out-of-synch feedback; long comments have to be split and posted individually, and blogger 'vanished' the above middle section...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey Nat - there's a great big chunk of feedback missing here - I posted it on Wednesday? Check your comment spam filter - I'm going to try and re-post it on the next comment...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Remember, your digital painting is a self-portrait, not simply a character or creature design; therefore, issues of likeness/semblance are important; don’t leave ‘Nat’ out of this DNA equation; for instance, in Avatar, while transformed, the actors likenesses shone through the cg wizardry, which leant humanity and even dignity to the hybrids. It’s a tough call, I know.

    No essay question posted, Nat? This means one of two things – 1) you’re not worried in the slightest about structuring your first academic assignment, or 2) you’re putting off thinking about it, because you’re worried about structuring your first academic assignment… Get something on your blog asap.

    Your blog; I’m going to suggest you rejig the template a little; while I’m already rather fond of the tiger painting that greets me, I always have to scroll down to get to the content. I’d like to see your CG specific work set the tone for your blog and be primary; something perhaps more expressive of these new territories you’re moving into. A bit of personal branding wouldn’t go amiss either; check out these second/third year blogs for some ideas…

    http://rubensblogpage.blogspot.com/
    http://ltsang.blogspot.com/
    http://wakkamole.blogspot.com/
    http://tombeg.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  9. There you go! Not sure what happened there - apologies if you've been feeling short changed! :-)

    And a favour - could you bring the HD Splice to the film on Monday, just so I can ensure it will play happily on the L1 machine. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  10. GRRRRRR! It's just vanished again? I'll email you all the feedback now, just so I'm sure you've got it. Drop Jolanta a message on her blog - I know my comments to her kept vanishing, but she was able to retrieve...

    ReplyDelete