Reviews of The Fly (1958) and related work

The Fly (1958Moving picture, 94 minutes)

Seen in 2019.

A genius invents a teleportation device before his wife kills him in a metal press. As he puts it, “It’d be funny if life weren’t so sacred.”

An SF murder mystery. The non-neon neon lights on the teleporter are cute. The social milieu is sterile and boring in the manner of bourgeois armchair murder mysteries; this would have been a good deal better with social realism. The narrative relies heavily on reading notes out loud even when there is disincentive to do so.

The inventor’s explanation of then-current television as moving electrons through space is incorrect, an example of writers seeking credibility by false analogy (“the same principle exactly!”). Obviously, the atomic entanglement between the two living things is not based on or compatible with science at all, but it is played admirably straight as body horror and the proud scientist’s horror of dementia, his soul mixing implausibly with that of the fly. The wife’s reaction, to fear the new because “it’s all so quick”, is more interesting, suggesting a reason why SF was so heavy on horror in this decade.

References here: “The Imagination of Disaster” (1965).

moving picture fiction

The Fly (1986Moving picture, 96 minutes)

David Cronenberg (director).

A young genius who hates vehicles has put together a system for teleportation, but living things turn out to pose special problems.

Goldblum balances out Davis’s sucking. The science has not improved from the original, but the choice to preserve speech, and make even the bodily transition gradual, improves the intimacy. It is unfortunate that Cronenberg did not ultimately embrace change the way he once did.

References here: Story of Science Fiction (2018).

moving picture remake fiction