The Fly: Special Edition (1986)
Main Menu Introduction
Audio Commentary-David Cronenberg (Director)
Featurette-Making Of-Fear Of The Flesh
Featurette-The Brundle Museum Of Natural History
Notes-Written Works (4)
Featurette-Film Tests (5)
Teaser Trailer-The Fly II
Theatrical Trailer-The Fly II
Trailer-The Fly (1958), Return Of The Fly (1959)
Gallery-One Sheet And Lobby Cards
|Year Of Production||1986|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||David Cronenberg|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
For many years I purposely avoided watching The Fly (1986), as I knew of the notorious baboon scene and this knowledge of the grotesque and bloody aftermath of a failed experiment was enough to deter me from viewing this title despite my appreciation of past films directed by David Cronenberg.
A few years ago I ventured to one of my many cinema studies classes and there was a sudden change to the cinema studies program - without warning The Fly (1986) was shown to around 60 unsuspecting students in a darkened theatre. Watching this film with an audience certainly played on the true horror aspects of this genre piece - there were murmurs during scenes of extreme gore and amusement at the very memorable one-liners. I walked away from The Fly (1986) delighted; I felt it was an excellent character study of a man painfully and peculiarly changing physically and psychologically against his will.
By revisiting this film on this excellent special edition DVD, I once again was thoroughly immersed in this tragic tale and have even more appreciation for this timeless film and David Cronenberg’s unique approach. What I hadn’t noticed on the initial viewing of the film was the tragic romantic love triangle which subtly develops and while the film still maintains its R rating, I did not find the violence or gore repellent - rather, it is a part of the world in which these bizarre characters exist.
The Fly (1986) isn’t supposed to be particularly realistic; it is a skewed fantastical genre piece which is surprisingly human as Cronenberg choose to focus on the characters as opposed to the visually stunning special effects. It is rumoured The Fly (1986) was initially supposed to be directed by Tim Burton and was to star Michael Keaton as at the time Cronenberg was to direct Total Recall (1990) but left that production due to creative differences and directed The Fly (1986).
It is strange to think of all the different films that the short story “The Fly” by George Langelaan, originally published in 1957, could have inspired. At the time of writing this review it is rumoured that “The Fly” will once again be remade in 2007. The short story deals with the fear of mutation and madness and Cronenberg modernised these themes by focussing on modern disease and the fear of the physical aging process. It has been noted that the physical metamorphosis in the film could be a reference to AIDS but Cronenberg has denied this many times and suggests The Fly (1986) is a simple tale of the fear of life and death.
The film has the arc of an opera inspired tragedy; it is an emotionally poignant film, quite intimate as there are only three characters, that of Seth Brundle the eccentric scientist, Veronica Quaife a journalist who is initially fascinated with Brundle’s work and then Brundle himself and Stathis Borans, Quaife’s boss and former love interest who still harbours feelings for Quaife.
Seth Brundle’s dramatic metamorphosis into “Brundle-Fly” is a narrative within itself. His changes are slowly and subtly evoked on the unsuspecting audience and Jeff Goldblum truly inhabits this role. Goldblum initially exhibits nervous energy through Seth Brundle which eventually develops into dangerous confidence and then fear of the monster within. It is astonishing to think of the endurance the actor had to go through to physically become the “Brundle-Fly” and then to give an expressive performance through the special make-up effects. I can’t imagine contemporary CGI technology truly exceeding the work Chris Walas created for this film and he was rightfully rewarded with the Best Makeup Oscar in 1987.
Veronica Quaife is another multi dimensional character played by the always dependable Geena Davis. Cronenberg choose to develop a relationship within the script of The Fly (1986) as the original story is that of a married couple and how the transformation affects their marriage. By removing the marriage and making the three characters three separate entities, their motivations are blurred. Quaife meets Brundle at a science convention and as he is seemingly harmless she goes to his apartment and views his teleportation experiment. Surprised at his success at teleporting simple lifeless objects she has the idea to run a feature much against Brundle’s wishes, as he wants his experiments and himself to remain a secret as he isn’t satisfied with his work and he works in secret for Bartok Industries.
Quaife, despite Brundle’s concerns, tells her editor and former lover Stathis Borans played by John Getz; she could have a major feature article for the journal she writes for. Borans isn’t convinced and believes Brundle is a conman until Quaife and Brundle unsurprisingly become involved. Quaife and Brundle’s relationship develops while he continues to work on his experiments and she records his progress. This momentary happiness is destroyed by Borans’ jealousy and Brundle’s insecurities over his relationship with Quaife. Alone and intoxicated Brundle places himself in harm's way by subjecting himself to the teleportation device. As a result he suffers a dramatic moral process and a torturous metamorphosis which causes Quaife much grievance as the man she loved becomes something seemingly inhuman.
The transfer on this Special Edition DVD is almost pristine. It is presented in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio and 16x9 enhanced.
No major problems exist except for the minor grain and scratches which are present on the print, although this is not distracting. There are no visible MPEG compression artefacts or edge enhancement and the colours are bright and skin tones remain excellent, while shadow detail is very good. The average bit-rate is 5.24 Mb/s and the subtitles are true to the onscreen dialogue. The overall look of the film is smooth and natural which is truly commendable as the scenes in the film range from foggy exteriors to barely lit apartment interiors.
The DTS track surprisingly resonates with bass and depth. The score by Howard Shore truly lifts the film into something more than a genre piece. The score is incredibly powerful and something akin to an opera and Shore does not refrain from grandness - often the simplest scenes are all the more memorable due to his score. Cronenberg has claimed many times that The Fly could easily be adapted to become an opera and this score certainly demonstrates this concept. This is an encompassing soundtrack and the subwoofer is certainly audible.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is a well conceived DVD package with well themed menus.
On disc one a commentary with David Cronenberg is featured. Cronenberg is highly intelligent and speaks from the viewpoint of the production and also as a spectator. This is an excellent commentary which further develops the ideas from the film and Cronenberg speaks candidly of his career and what he is interested in as a filmmaker. One of the best commentaries I’ve heard.
This is the key extra feature of this DVD set at a length of 2 hrs and 42 minutes of enhanced content. This documentary details almost everything from pre-production to how the film was received on release. Strangely Cronenberg does not feature but his absence is made up for with new interviews with Stuart Cornfeld (producer), Mark Irwin (cinematographer), Chris Walas (effects creator), Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, John Getz and Charles Edward Pogue.
A short feature in which archivist Bob Burns and Chris Walas discuss the concepts that led to the designs of the special effects and show some of the models and various mutations.
The deleted scenes are shown in various forms. The well known ‘Monkey-Cat’ scene can be viewed as a finished scene or as storyboards. ‘Brundlefly vs. Baglady’ can be read as part of the script. ‘Reconciliation’ and ‘Poetry of the Steak’ are extended scenes.
Archival written works are also included. The original George Langelaan short story, Charles Edward Pogue’s original screenplay and David Cronenberg’s final draft are all available to view. Two interactive archival journal articles are also available; they are from the respected journals Cinefex and American Cinematographer.
Various film tests are also viewable including title treatments, lighting effects, ‘Brudlefly’ make-up tests and ‘Cronenfly’.
Includes Teaser and Theatrical Trailers for both The Fly and The Fly II, three TV Spots for The Fly and Theatrical Trailers for The Fly (1958) and Return of the Fly (1959). An Electronic press kit includes a short profile on Cronenberg and there is a photo gallery which includes international poster designs and lobby card designs.
A comprehensive still gallery, spilt into four categories including publicity, behind the scenes, concept art and effects.
Disc 2: Enter "Documentaries", select "Fear of the Flesh: The Making of The Fly", highlight "Fear of the Flesh: Larva", and press "left" to highlight a fly. Press "enter".
Disc 2: Enter "Deleted Scenes", highlight "Monkey-Cat", and press "left" to highlight a fly. Press "enter".
All extras have Dutch, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish subtitle options.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
I believe the R1 and R4 are almost identical. Our local edition has more subtitle options while R1 includes an Easter egg of trailers for Alien and Big Trouble in Little China. While the R1 has better thematic cover art the R4 has an affordable sale price.
David Cronenberg’s most mainstream film is not only a brilliantly crafted film but now receives a comprehensive presentation on DVD. It is a very impressive package for fans of the film and DVD enthusiasts alike. Since I can’t imagine any room for improvement this SE receives full marks.
|DVD||Denon DVD-1910, using DVI output|
|Display||Panasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||Yamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS|
|Speakers||(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12|