Monday, August 14, 2006

The Annotated Fly

THE FLY (1986)


OVERVIEW:


In 1984, screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue approached producer Stuart Cornfeld with the idea of remaking and modernizing The Fly (1958). Pogue threw in some homages to the original film, but completely revamped the man-fly fusion concept. He wrote a script about a scientist named Geoff Powell, who accidentally merges with a housefly during a teleportation experiment and begins to transform into a giant fly. At the end of the script, after Powell dies, his wife, Barbara, gives birth to a giant maggot-baby.

British director Robert Bierman was hired to direct, with filming to commence in Great Britain.
However, a personal tragedy caused him to bow out, and the film was off. In Spring, 1985, Cornfeld contacted writer-director David Cronenberg (who had been his first choice to direct), and offered him the film again (Cronenberg had been tied up with Total Recall when Cornfeld contacted him originally). Cronenberg agreed to direct, but only if he could perform an extensive overhaul on the script. The final script featured Cronenberg's characters and dialogue (turning the happily married, 1950s-esque Powell into two strangers falling in love, and eliminating a pair of slimy executives who covet the teleporter), and a heavily altered and steamlined plot. However, many
of the details of the transformation (such as the character's fingernails falling out and the insect hairs growing out of his back) remained from Pogue's version. 20th Century Fox, which held the rights to the franchise, agreed to distribute the film, while Mel Brooks' Brooksfilms produced it.


The film was shot both on the stage (at Kleinberg Studios) and on location in Toronto, Canada, and many Cronenberg veterans worked on it. Chris Walas and his company, Chris Walas Inc. (CWI), was hired to provide the makeup and creature effects. Preview screenings dictated that some controversial scenes had to be removed, which we'll get to later.


The completed film became an international success, as well as a big smash with critics and filmgoers. Jeff Goldblum (Seth Brundle) was often mentioned as a contender for the "Best Actor" Academy Award, but he was not nominated, unfortunately. However, the film did win a "Best Makeup" Oscar for Chris Walas and his team. The film's success and open ending necessitated what eventually became a controversial sequel, The Fly II (1989). There has been some discussion as to whether the sequel "really" counts as a part of Cronenberg's Fly universe. Cronenberg feels that the stories in his films have defintive beginning and endings, and he has never considered making a sequel to one of his own films (although others have made sequels to Cronenberg films, including Scanners).


POSTER:


The Fly's theatrical one-sheet poster featured a simple image of a Telepod, with a human arm and an insect leg coming out of the door (Although, mistakenly, the door isn't actually open. Rather, the poster makes it seem as if the door's glass window is absent.). This art has been used for virtually all international poster, press materials, and VHS/DVD covers. Also of note is that the logo ("THE FLY") is surrounded by a greenish glow in all publicity materials, but the actual title card in the film proper uses a blue glow (this continued with the sequel).


TRAILER:


The film's theatrical trailer features some generic music (source as yet unknown), temporary sound effects, and several alternate/unused bits not seen in the final cut:


A close-up shot of a barely visible Brundle in a telepod during his fateful teleportation, surrounded by smoke (note that the footage seems to run backwards, with the smoke moving *down*).


Various fluttering, green flashes of light can be seen in the trailers (which were created specifcially for the teaser trailer), moving across the screen between various shots, which finally transform into the film's main title. David Cronenberg liked this so much, he requested that it be used in the film proper. These flashes of light were also reused in The Fly II's main title sequence.


The shots of Brundle and Veronica Quaife kissing as she discovers the fly hairs on his back are alternate takes not used in the final cut, and they also appear to be running backwards.


An alternate take of Brundle punching the wooden beam to shards can be seen.


A dolly shot of a baboon sitting inside Telepod 2 and being disintegrated actually comes from the infamous, deleted "monkey-cat" scene. The optical "lightning" effect is missing, and thus the shot is
incomplete.


A shot of Stathis Borans yelling, "I want to know what's going on!" is a trim from the scene where Veronica confronts him in his office about the Particle Magazine mockup cover (the scene was trimmed down quite a bit for the final cut of the movie).


The audio of Brundle saying, "A fly got into the transmitter pod with me that first time, when I was alone" is an alternate take.


A close-up shot of the fly inside Telepod 1 is an alternate take (Here, it's aligned horizontally; in the final cut, it's vertical. The trailer version of the shot is more accurate, continuity-wise,
than the final cut, as the fly does not magically change positio from shot to shot.).


An alternate angle of Veronica shutting her car door as she arrives to visit Brundle in his Stage 4 condition.


A alternate (close-up) angle of Veronica gasping as she first sees Brundle crawling on the ceiling of his lab.


A shot of the "lost" Stage 4-b Brundle looking up from his computer (from the deleted "monkey-cat" scene).


An unused shot of Veronica, trapped inside Telepod 1, reacting as Stathis fires his shotgun to sever the pod's connection to the computer.


An alternate shot of Brundlefly smashing out from Telepod 2 (in this version, the enitre pane of glass falls out of the door).


An alternate (close-up) angle of Brundle smashing into the abortion clinic.


An alternate audio take of "Help me. Please, help me!" from Goldblum.



A DISEASE WITH A PURPOSE:

The Academy Award-winning makeup seen in The Fly was carefully planned out by the effects wizards at Chris Walas, Inc. over a period of several months. The final "Brundlefly" creature was designed first, and then the various steps needed to carry protagonist Seth Brundle to that final incarnation were designed afterwards. The transformation was intended to be a metaphor for the aging process. Indeed, Brundle loses hair, teeth, and fingernails, and his skin becomes discolored and lumpy. The intention of the filmmakers was to give Brundle a bruised, cancerous, and diseased look that gets progressively worse as time goes on.

Various looks were tested for the different stages before the perfected versions seen in the completed film were arrived at. Some early test footage can be seen on the 2005 The Fly: Collector's Edition DVD.


Early versions of the different makeup stages include:


A prototype of Stage 2, featuring more exaggerated facial discoloration, open sores, and peeling skin (test footage of this version can be seen on the Fly CE DVD).

The first test version of Stage 4-A, which featured the same face sculpt as the final version of the makeup, but also had an enlarged headpiece underneath Goldblum's wig. The "hernia-bulge" on his side is in a lower position on his torso than the final version, and only Brundle's face and hands are visibly mutated (also, the sticky pads on his palms are a different color than the metallic-green pads seen in the final film). The rest of Goldblum's body is discolored with body makeup, and there are numerous insect hairs on his arms and torso. In the final version of the makeup seen in the film, Brundle's entire body is lumpy and deformed (test footage of this version can be seen on the Fly CE DVD).

There may also be another version of Stage 4-A (which can be seen in nearly all of the publicity and still photos of that stage). This version appears to have slightly different arm appliances (with less distorted hands and the lighter-colored palm-pads of the first prototype), and more hair on Brundle's head (which actually seems to coordinate better with Stage 4-B, since Stage 4-B appears to have more hair than the filmed version of Stage 4-A). It is unclear if this really is a prototype, since most photographs of this version indicate that it was filmed on the set. The apparent differences between the "prototype" and the filmed version may be mere optical illusions created by different lighting schemes and film stocks.





The following is a detailed breakdown of each stage of Seth Brundle's horrifying transformation as designed and created by the CWI crew (with behind-the-scenes information, as well):



STAGE 1 (on view in the scene where Veronica discovers the small insect hairs on Brundle's back): Brundle's face is discolored, and it looks as though he has a bad allergic rash. Small insect hairs are growing out the scratches in his back (an injury sustained prior to Brundle's fateful teleportation when he accidentally rolled onto a stray circuit board). Actor Jeff Goldblum's face was painted with dabs of blue, red, green, yellow, and purple makeup. The fly hairs growing from the scratches on Brundle's back were made from monofilament fishing wire that was trimmed, tapered, and tinted black.



STAGE 2 (on view from the scene where the manic Brundle storms the city's streets and then enters the bar until the point where he discovers the truth about his fusion with the fly by checking his computer's records): It looks as though Brundle has a bad case of acne, as his face is full of what appear to be pimples, warts and bumps (and more lesions appear on his face as time goes on). There are also some small fly hairs growing out of various areas of his face. Many more such hairs are growing out of the scratches on his back. Brundle's entire body is becoming subtly discolored, and his fingers are swollen, blotchy, and have loose nails. Plastic warts and pimples were applied to Goldblum's face. He wore foam-rubber fingertips for the nail-pulling scene.



STAGE 3 (on view in the scene where Veronica visits Brundle after his one-month period of isolation): Brundle's face is lumpy and discolored. His hair is thinning (with visible bald spots) and he has no eyebrows. He must now walk with the aid of a pair of canes (as a result of the changes to the internal structure of his body) and vomits digestive enzymes on his food in order to dissolve it. His right ear falls off in this stage. Goldblum wore a full face/neck foam-rubber appliance with wig. The "vomit drop" was made from eggs, honey, and milk.



STAGE 4-A (on view in the scene where Brundle demonstrates his wall-crawling and "vomit-drop" abilities to Veronica): Brundle has lost all of his fingernails and toenails, as well as both ears. More of his hair has fallen out, and his teeth are crooked (with receding gums). His face and arms are lumpy and deformed, and coarse insect hairs are popping up all over his body. A hernia-like bulge has developed on the lower left side of his torso. Sticky, cushion-like pads have appeared on Brundle's hands and feet, giving him the ability to cling to walls. The index and middle fingers of his right hand are webbed together with a flap of flesh, and are starting to fuse together. Some of the toes on Brundle's feet are clustering and fusing together. Brundle's inner structure has changed enough so that he no longer needs to walk with the aid of canes, and his natural posture is now a hunched-over one. Goldblum wore foam rubber appliances on his head, neck, arms, feet, and abdomen. Various pieces of foam were put under his clothes to suggest a missshapen form underneath. He also wore another wig with sparce hair, and custom-made dentures to show Brundle's crooked teeth.



STAGE 4-B (not seen in the final cut of the film; appears only in the deleted "Monkey-Cat"/ insect leg-amputation sequence that can be seen on the 2005 Fly Collector's Edition DVD): Essentially the same as Stage 4-A, but now Brundle is completely naked. He's lost his genitals, his buttocks have fused together, and his hips have become enlarged. The hernia-like bulge in his side is very noticeable now, and eventually bursts open to reveal a small, fly-like appendage that is messily amputated by the horrified Brundle. This stage used the same sculpting for the face and arms as the Stage 4-A makeup appliances did, but since the scene revealed the entirety of Brundle's deformed body, Goldblum was required to wear the first of two full-body, foam-rubber bodysuits designed for the film.



STAGE 5 (on view from the point where Brundle loses his teeth up until the moment when his jaw is ripped off): Brundle is nearing the end of his metamorphosis. His hair is almost entirely gone, and his head has become swollen and misshapen, with his face becoming even more deformed. The right eyelid is puffed up and the left eye is enlarged. The index and middle fingers on Brundle's right hand have fused together, and the pinky fingers of both hands are "dead" and vestigial. The middle finger of the left hand has swollen grotesquely. Brundle loses a number of teeth in this stage, and the open wound in his torso (from the deleted "Monkey-Cat" sequence) is clearly visible. Later on, Veronica Quaife accidentally tears Brundle's jaw off, beginning STAGE 6. Goldblum wore a second full-body suit similar to the one seen in Stage 4-B, but this version featured more exaggerated deformities. Goldblum also wore special dentures with missing teeth and custom-made contact lenses that made one eye appear bigger than the other. The most complete makeup job in the film, this stage took nearly six hours to apply to the actor. The shots of Brundle's jaw flexing in a non-human way so as to vomit corrosive enzymes on Stathis Borans, as well as the shots of Brundle's jaw being ripped off, were accomplished with mechanized, full-bust puppet replicas of the character. In a shot deleted from the film, Brundle ejects an eight-inch proboscis to suck up the remains of Borans's foot, a sequence that also used a mechanized bust. This was the last stage of Brundlefly's transformation to involve actor Jeff Goldblum.



STAGE 6 (seen when Brundlefly tosses Veronica into Telepod 1 and then steps into Telepod 2): Brundle's dead and decaying outer layer of skin falls off to reveal his final incarnation, the entity previously dubbed "Brundlefly" by the diseased scientist. This grotesque, human-insect hybrid creature has a misshapen head with antennae, insect eyes with enlarged eyelids, and a proboscis. The torso is somewhat segmented, like an insect's, and the hips are enlarged and deformed. The right leg reverses its joint to become reverse-bending and Brundle's dead human foot is shaken loose. The creature's new, hoof-like foot ends in a pair of insect claws. The left leg is vaguely humanoid, but there is an extra joint beneath the knee, and the foot consists of three large, deformed toes that are tipped by insect claws. The left arm is humanoid, and terminates in a deformed, human-type hand with stubby, vestigial fingers. The right arm features a distorted and elongated hand that has two long, tubular fingers (which are also tipped with insect claws). This ultimate fusion of man and insect was brought to life throught the use of various cable-controlled and rod-operated puppets.



"STAGE" 7 (seen in The Fly's final moments, after Brundlefly is merged with a section of Telepod 2): After its failed attempt to reclaim some semblance of humanity by merging with Veronica Quaife, Brundlefly is accidentally fused with a large chunk of its own sending telepod. The resulting fusion of man, insect, and machine crawls out of the receiving pod, mortally wounded and in terrible agony. In a last gesture of humanity, the thing that was once Seth Brundle silently begs Veronica to end its life, and she does. This final incarnation of Seth Brundle, technically not a part of his metamorphosis into Brundlefly, was dubbed the "Brundlething" or "Brundlebooth" by the film's crew. The pathetic creature was created as a rod puppet with cable-controlled facial features.





ANNOTATIONS:

(Note: The info that follows comes from official sources, such the excellent 2005 The Fly: Collector's Edition DVD, the drafts of the script that I have, and filmmaker interviews, as well as my own detailed observations.)


The 20th Century Fox Fanfare music heard at the beginning of the film is an edited version of the older recording used in the 1950s (which the 1958 version also used).


The background for the main titles consists of a swirling, optically distorted mass of colors. This is apparently a P.O.V. representation of the way biologists believe a fly's vision would appear to humans.


In the opening shot, a sculpture with a blue laser projecting words onto it can be seen. The words read, "Bartok" and "Art".


The script establishes the party as the "Bartok Science Industries 4th Annual Meet-the-Press Luncheon".


A theme of Cronenberg's work is the connection between art/creativity and science, which appears prominently in this film. Note the name of the scientific company (B--ART--OK). Thus, many of the partygoers can be seen carrying booklets that read "Art and Science".


Presumably, Brundle took public transportation to the party, since he doesn't appear to own a vehicle.


BRUNDLE: "I'm working on something that will change the world and human life as we know it". Indeed, Brundle's invention changes his world, and his life as he knows it.


The script pegs Seth Brundle as 38, and Veronica Quaife in her late 20s. Jeff Goldblum was 34 at the time (take your pick which is Brundle's "real" age), and Geena Davis was 28.


It's quite clear that Brundle persuades Veronica to see his invention because he's romantically interested in her. This is an example of Cronenberg's idea about "humanizing" the face of science. Brundle and his lab are very eccentric (the lab is organized-but-messy), not at all like the 1958 versions of the scientist and his lab.


It's rather humorous that Brundle's primary reason for building a teleporter is because he suffers from motion-sickness.


"It's...cleaner on the inside". This statement becomes ironic later on, as the lab becomes a total mess.


The script states that Brundle's warehouse used to be a packing house for fish. Presumably, he converted an office into his bedroom. The lab also appers to be filled with used furishings, etc. A deleted scene (which may or may not have been filmed) of Brundle and Veronica
walking up the warehouse stairs established the "fish" idea, and a line of Veronica's to the out-of-shape Brundle, "Want me to carry you?" would have contrasted with the "Brundle sprints up the stairs with Tawny in his arms" scene later on in the final cut.


The sliding-door entrance to Brundle's lab appears to be an homage to the similar doors in the lab of Andre Delambre in The Fly (1958).


Brundle plays "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" on the piano, yet another attempt to impress Veronica. Sheet music in the form of Beethoven and Bach can also be seen sitting on the piano throughout the film (in reality, Jeff Goldblum is an accomplished piano player).

The Telepods were originally designed to look like high-tech phone booths (hence Veronica's "designer phone booth" remark"), but Cronenberg decided it looked wrong. Inspiration struck when he noticed the cyllinder head of his vintage Ducati motorcycle. When turned
upside down, the cyllinder is pretty much the final design. The art department added the design of the pod door, which is vaguely reminiscent of female exterior genitalia (and reinforces the idea of
the pods as artificial wombs, and teleportation as a death/rebirth).


There is a slight structural difference between Telepod 1 and Telepod 2: at the bottom of the pole-like hinge which is attached to the door, there are several round discs on the pole. Telepod 1 has 8 discs, and Telepod 2 has 10 (the prototype pod has 8). This is how they can be told apart.


Presumably, the single prototype telepod was used to both disintegrate and reintegrate test objects, since building two prototypes before the design was perfected would have been cost prohibitive (and because a single pod can perform both functions). The prototype has a solid metal door in place of the glass window, larger tubing on the sides, and additional components on either side of the bottom of the pod.


Brundle's small control console does not appear to be the actual computer. A massive bank of what appears to be computer equipment can be seen lighting up in the corner of the lab as Brundle turns on the user console.


The computer screens in the film have a lot of detail, such as listing the number of ATP molecules in a teleportation subject, the computer's CPU activity percentages, and the various encoding/decoding sequences (" SEQUENCE: ANALYSIS", etc.). The letter/number combinations that flash on the screen during a teleportion are presumably designations for the encoded atoms of a given teleportation subject.


According to Cronenberg, the Telepods work by scanning an object, disintegrating it, then recreating it from a raw stock of new molecules (the "plasma pool", as Brundle calls it). This brings up some interesting philosophical questions, such as whether or not a teleported person is *killed*, and an exact duplicate takes their place. Cronenberg does not believe in an afterlife (he can't imagine the mind and body being separated), and sees the body as the primary source of personal identity.


On view at various points in the film is Brundle's nervous habit of biting his fingernails, which comes into focus later on.


The automated locks on the Telepod doors are a necessity, because we see what happens when the door is opened during a teleportation sequence at the end of the film. Judging by evidence in the film, the locks/doors can be opened/closed either manually or automatically, by computer (such as when Brundle goes through the first time). However, there is no way to open the doors from the inside (presumably to keep the lab animals from accidentally opening the door), and this proves to be a problem for Veronica at the film's climax.


There are many references to Brundle being a "magician" in the film. This may intentionally represent the metaphorical idea that he is like a shaman of anicient Native American tales who undergoes a death/rebirth, gains great power and wisdom, and "becomes" an animal.


A nice touch: the computer's analysis of Veronica's stocking indicates "ORGANIC MATTER: 0.0001%" in the stocking; i.e., the dead skin cells from her leg.


The idea of a confidant revealing herself to be a professional journalist recording every word was based on a real incident in Cronenberg's career.


When Brundle is making coffee for Veronica, he shows off the metal eagle on top of his Faema coffee machine, a nice touch.


The Bartok people must have a good deal of faith in Brundle to give him money for a project like this without knowing exactly what it is!


A brief flash of anger can be seen in Brundle (but he catches himself before it goes to far) as Veronica reveals that she's been taping him. It is possible that the teleporter accident later on may merely have unleashed a rage that was always there, beneath the surface, in essence, turning him inside out like the first baboon.


Particle Magazine is based at Monolith Publishing, an impressive building which neatly contrasts with Brundle's abandoned warehouse.


A deleted scene featuring Stathis Borans watching Brundle and Ronnie get into an elevator as they depart states that the Bartok party took place the night before Veronica played the tape for Stathis.

The script also states that Stathis has many honorary and hard-earned scientific awards hanging in his office (these, as well as Particle covers, can be seen in his office in the film). Particle Magazine
itself is described as being more like Vanity Fair than a hard-core physics magazine.


Stathis Borans is around 40 years old (we presume, since John Getz was roughly the same age at that time). This raises questions about his relationship with then-college student Veronica, who was clearly much younger. Stathis goes through a transformation of his own in the film. At first, he seems to be an aloof businessman, and we later see that he's (seemingly) the one-dimensional, jealous type and is practically stalking Veronica. Although their romantic relationship ended and they now work together as friends, he can't get over her. In the end, though, he proves to be an emotional rock for her, a sensitive, caring friend, and he even becomes a "hero" of sorts when he rescues her from Brundle. Cronenberg named him after Lou Stathis, late of Heavy Metal magazine, who often praised Cronenberg's films.


We learn Veronica's first name when Brundle invites her out for cheeseburgers, but her last name, "Quaife" is never revealed in the final cut of the film itself (just the end credits).


The sequence of Veronica sneaking up on Stathis in the shower seems an almost deliberate homage to the genre convention established in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960).


The script reveals that Veronica and Stathis lived together for two years before they split up.


A red and gray binder can be seen on Veronica's table as she argues with Stathis. She can be seen writing in this same folder after Brundle teleports the steak. It presumably contains her vairous notes and other journalistic accessories.


"I'm still considering the Psychology Today gig". This indicates that Veronica is more of a freelance journalist and not on staff at Particle Magazine. It also indicates that she knows Stathis is jealous of Brundle and she's actively trying to keep their deal a secret.


The amount of time Brundle and Veronica worked together before they fell in love is unknown. It's possible that only a few days went by before they became romantically involved, maybe even a few weeks.


Throughout the film, what appear to be powerful scanning beams can be seen encircling an object before disintegration, presumably charting the nature and placement of every atom. These beams are so strong, apparently, that we can see right through the first baboon before it is teleported!


Presumably, the inside-out baboon was "cleaned up" by programming the computer to disintegrate the remains without reintegrating them in another Telepod.


According to Cronenberg, Brundle has reached an impass with his work. Only by learning about flesh and passion can he succeed in teleporting living objects (another "art and science" reference). However, the passion that led him to this cognitive leap (and to create the teleporter in the first place) becomes twisted and megalomanical after his accident with the fly.


"Computers are dumb. They only know what you tell them". While this is true, after Brundle programs it to be "creative", the computer begins doing things it was never programmed to do or intended for.


Brundle's "bed" consists of a fold-out sofa!


Albert Einstein really did buy five sets of exactly the same suit so as to conserve mental energy by not having to decide what to wear each day (Dr. Bruce Banner, the alter-ego of Marvel Comics' Incredible Hulk, has also been established as following this practice. Why else would he always wear those purple pants, eh?). Still, Brundle's way of going about it is a bit extreme. He has five tweed jackets and five identical sets of shoes.


It's hard to say whether or not Veronica deflowered Brundle or not. If this was indeed his first sexual experience, it would reinforce the idea of his being "inroduced" to women and passion (i.e, the flesh). Cronenberg has indicated that Breundle was a virgin prior to this, which would work well, thematically.


When Brundle rolls onto the circuit board, there are a number of metaphors and themes at work. First, it foreshadows Brundle being betrayed by his own technology. Second, it foreshadows his eventual fusion with that same technology, in the form of Telepod 2 (also reinforcing the theme of sexuality and technology merging; the board "penetrates" Brundle). Third, it creates, in a manner of speaking, a technologically-induced "opening" in his body for the fly to enter (not literally).


After Brundle begins reprogramming the computer to understand the flesh, a line of Veronica's deleted from the film had her say,, "What are you going to do, read it 'Naked Lunch'?" Aside from being deleted because it was too allusive, it also inadvertantly foreshadows Cronenberg himself making a film version of Naked Lunch (1991)!


The vanity license plate on Stathis' car reads, "Particle".


The fact that Brundle accepts the new clothes Veronica gets for him reveals that she's begun to really affect him (although, he wears these new clothes a few days in a row. Old habits die hard...). On the flip side, Veronica (who says she doesn't wear jewelry) begins wearing the necklace Brundle later buys her without hesitation.


A bit of chronology: The second baboon experiment takes place at 7:50 P.M. (according to Brundle's watch), he teleports himself around 8:30 P.M. (the watch again), Veronica returns from Stathis' office at 10:35 (the bedroom clock), and Veronica gets up the next morning around 7:54 A.M. (the clock again).


The Particle Magazine mockup cover Stathis sends to Veronica (clearly a jealousy-induced threat: "Back off from Brundle or I break the Telepod story without permission") is dated December, 1986 (a few months after the date of the film's release, Aug, 1986, which is presumably around the time the film takes place). The "Telepod" design is all wrong (Stathis hasn't actually seen the pods yet), and Brundle is depicted as wearing the leather jacket Veronica bought for him (which Stathis did see). The mailer has a piece of Particle stationery attached, whichreads "Monolith Publishing", and "From the Desk of Stathis Borans, Editor, Particle Magazine" (which Brundle makes a fuss about later). The package is addressed to "Veronica Quaife, c/o Seth Brundle".


It would seem Brundle is a regular customer of the Chinese restaurant ("Victor? Yeah, Seth Brundle."), presumably because he doesn't get out much and he likes his Chinese carry-out!


Stathis is wrting on a piece of the same type of stationery that was clipped to the mailer he sent Veronica when she barges into his office.


Like Stathis before him, Brundle becomes very jealous when he thinks Veronica is still seeing Borans on the side, and he drunkenly decides to get back at her by teleporting himself without her being present to see it. Stathis serves as a reminder of the outside world, and his presence in Veronica's life reminds Brundle that she has had romantic entanglements and history prior to Brundle himself. Thus, the teleportation accident is really Brundle's fault, as he is too wrapped up in his thoughts to notice the fly. The teleporter works perfectly; it's Brundle who makes the mistake. This represents Cronenberg's attempts to rectify the 1958 film's naive, "1950's America" idea that the teleporter is somehow too "dangerous" and must be destroyed.


It's not entirely clear HOW the computer merged Brundle and the fly. Either it took each organism's genetic code and intervove them, or it selected portions of each (say, 50%) and stuck them together. Some fans have pointed out that there are millions of bacteria in and on the human body (to say nothing of a fly's), and by all rights Brundle should have merged with them as well. However, it seems likely that Brundle programmed the computer to compensate for the the normal germs and such. He presumably did *not*, however, program it what to do in the case of two distinctly separate life-forms of a certain mass being together in a Telepod at the same time.



The only aspect of the fly to remain intact after the teleportation was its genetic data. Presumably, the computer replaced all of the DNA in Brundle's body with the new "Brundlefly" combination, but still reintegrated his body in the same molecular configuration it had before he was teleported (since he was the "primary teleportation subject"). Thus, from the moment he was reintegrated, Brundle's revised DNA began sending out instructions to suit the new DNA combination. It takes time for cells in a human body to die and be replaced with new ones (only in this case, the new cells would be "Brundlefly" cells instead of "Brundle" cells), which is why it takes Brundle so long to mutate.


"Is it live or is it Memorex?" was a slogan used by Memorex to advertise its audio tape products, referring to the accuracy of the sound reproduction. Brundle is saying this because he's wondering if
the teleportation really worked, but it also plays into the idea that a teleported person might just be an exact duplicate of the original. Still, as philosopher John Locke said, if one remembers doing something, then they did it, so, for all intents and purposes, it's still Brundle.


When Veronica returns that evening, the baboon's cage can be seen (a smaller cage, possibly for the cat used in the deleted "monkey-cat" scene, is on view later in the film, starting withthe "plasma pool" scene).


A nice touch: After a dazed, sleepy Brundle says he missed Veronica "last night" and she corrects him ("It's still night. I came back"), he still claims, "I went through last night".


Since any injury on a human body would more urgently require new cells to repair the wound (as opposed to the normal routine of producing new replacement cells), it makes perfect sense that the first sign that something went wrong with Brundle's teleportation would be the insect hairs growing out of the circuit board-induced puncture wounds on Brundle's back. Thus, the new cells created to heal the wounds are "Brundlefly" cells created by Brundlefly's hybrid DNA.


The fly that Brundle catches in his palm is not THE fly (that fly no longer exists as such). This scene also indicates that, aside from Brundle's improved agility and reflexes, he has a mild psionic connection with flies (I thought this film was sci-fi, not "psi-fly"! Heh.). The fact that Brundle wakes up a while before Veronica does implies that he doesn't need much sleep (as he says later, "I hardly need to sleep anymore and I feel wonderful").


When Veronica wakes up and approaches Brundle, we can see that he has a sheen of sweat on his body and a look of disbelief on his face. Clearly, he was working out before Veronica woke up.


A scene that was filmed but deleted (but which can be seen on The Fly: CE DVD) takes place after Brundle shows off his superhuman gymnastic skills. Veronica interviews Brundle on videotape, and he explains that he feels energized and also theorizes that the process of teleportation may have "improved" him. His possible explaination for this is that he told the computer to be "creative". He also asks Veronica if she wants to try being teleported and she declines. The scene was clearly deleted because it slowed things down and didn't explain anything the scenes around it do in a more efficient manner.

Prior to the 2005 DVD's release, a slightly different version of this sequence (comprised of some alternate takes of the scene) could be seen in The Fly II, with a few lines deleted and a few lines added, as well as Saffron Henderson (who plated Veronica in the sequel) overdubbing Geena Davis' dialogue.



The chronology of these and later events must now be called into question. During Day 1 (as we'll call it) Brundle goes through and Ronnie comes back. The next morning (Day 2), he exercises (the deleted"Second Interview" scene comes shortly after that). The scenes on the street, in the cafe, and the "plasma pool" scequence are harder to pin down. It's possible that ALL of these events occurred during Day 2, but there are some clues that indicate a few days went by before things started to go downhill (Veronica's change of clothes and Brundle explaining that he asked the computer if it improved him--without Veronica being present, apparently--being prime examples. Although, it's possible that Veronica went home after interviewing Brundle in order to freshen up on Day 2 before they went out to the cafe.).

It is unclear if the "plasma pool" scene (which is in the late afternoon/early evening) takes place on the same day as the street/coffee shop scenes. If that all happened in the same day, the "rash" on Brundle's face appeared quite suddenly (and Veronica didn't say anything, perhaps because she thought it was a "sex rash" from their marathon-session). The next morning, Ronnie confronts Brundle and Tawny, and Brundle then checks his computer records, learning of his fly-fusion.


Cronenberg has indicated that the film takes place in Toronto, where it was filmed. The street where Brundle and Ronnie take a stroll is part of Toronto's Kensington Market area. It is here that Brundle purchases Veronica a necklace with a heart-shaped charm, evidence that he is now beginning to change her as they grow closer (before, she claimed, "I don't wear jewlery", just as Brundle insisted on wearing identical clothes every day). She wears this necklace in every scene for the rest of the film, as it is a visual symbol of their relationship.


As Brundle puts the necklace around Veronica's neck, it appears he's whispering, "Do you love me?" in her ear.


"So I asked the computer if it improved me and it said I didn't know what I was talking about". This line of Brundle's is a reference to his theory about the computer "improving" him in the deleted "Second Interview" scene. It also establishes that the computer did NOT "improve"or "purify" him. Instead, his newfound strength and energy are early signs of his genetic fusion with the fly.


The coffee shop scene establishes Brundle's humorous, fly-like craving for sugary foods. It also establishes that Brundle is quickly becoming addicted to his new, "Ubermensch"-like powers. This manic state will soon lead to his aggressive belief that he has risen above the constraints of "normal" society. Finally, it neatly contrasts with the earlier scene in the fast-food restaurant ("Wait for me that long?" vs. "Let's go! Move! Catch me if you can!").


The "plasma pool" scene (beginning with Brundle and Ronnie's marathon sex session) shows off the "Stage 1" Brundlefly transformation makeup. It consists of a rash on Brundle's face (and could be mistaken for the "sex rashes" people sometimes get, which plays into the "sex-and-corruption-of-the-flesh-from-within" theme that pervades Cronenberg's work).


This scene also shows that Brundle's newfound energy has led to his becoming a bit sex-crazed. Often in Cronenberg's films, sex leads to corruption of the flesh from within, and this is a prime example. Indeed, although it was not intended to be such by Cronenberg (but film critics thought it was), Brundle's increased sexual activity dovetailing into his "disease" provides something of an AIDS metaphor.

However, the film was intended to be more of a metaphor for diseases like cancer, and, specifically, the aging process (not AIDS). Brundle loses his hair, teeth, and nails, his skin becomes wrinkly and deformed, and he begins to lose his mind as time goes on. The script is also peppered with references to old age (Ronnie's "I'm not getting any younger.", Brundle's "I'm looking forward to a hairy body. It's one of the compensations of old age.", etc.). Indeed, Cronenberg has said of aging: "In time, we all become monsters".


Brundle's treament of teleportation as a drug kicks off another metaphor: drug addiction. His ranting about purity of mind and body also satirizes the "Human Potential"-types who spout the same kind of talk. However, the reason for his change in attitude is never really explained. Is it purely biological, a result of changes brought on by his fusion with the fly? Or does he feel so good, he's decided to just let go of his inhibitions?


"I said I was scared to do it! What do I have to say? I'M NOT GONNA DO IT!" This dialogue of Veronica's refers back to the deleted "Second Interview" scene, where she gently refused Brundle's first offer to teleport her.


As he storms out, Brundle is wearing only his underwear and the pants, jacket, and shoes Veronica bought for him.


"You think you woke me up about the flesh, don't you? But you only know society's straight line about the flesh! You can't penetrate beyond society's sick, gray fear of the flesh!" This is a nice summation of Cronenberg's thoughts about how society tends to ignore or bury their thoughts about the "flesh", the human body. The average person is uncomfortable talking about the body, and sexuality, in particular. Brundle believes that, by undergoing teleportation ("Drink deep, or taste not, the plasma spring!"), he has now achieved a deeper understanding of the flesh than everyone else. But his true lesson has only just begun.


Brundle's subsequent erratic behavior (such as his fling with Tawny) could be interpreted as a "mid-life crisis" aspect of the old age theme. The character's initial euphoria, super-strength, and enhanced sexual prowess were carry-overs from Charles Edward Pogue's original script. Of course, Cronenberg slightly retailored it to be a metaphor for things like drugs and the "self- realization/improvement" social movements of that era. And, as Cronenberg states in his DVD commentary, it adds another layer of drama and unease when Brundle tries to share what he's feeling--by force--with Ronnie (and then Tawny).


The song playing in the bar, "Help Me" (written by Nile Rodgers and Bryan Ferry, performed by Bryan Ferry) is the only "source" song in the film. According to Cronenberg, it was originally going to be used in the film's end titles, but a rock song didn't fit in with the tone of the movie, so it was moved to the bar scene. Of course, the title is a reference to the famous "Help me, please help me!" line from the 1958 version of The Fly. The lyrics are also rather descriptive of Brundle's plight.


Marky is played by George Chuvalo, former Canadian Heavyweight boxing champ.


The script makes it clear that Marky and the second man are arm-wrestling for sexual favors from Tawny. Tawny's line originally went, "Because the winner wins me, and 'cause I like Marky tonight".


A close-up of Brundle and Marky's hands when they're arm-wrestling reveals a strange, pus-like fluid seeping from Brundle's fingernails (the CWI people who developed it called it "fly juice"). This fluid can be seen coming from Brundle as various moments later in the film.


After barhopping all night and into the early morning hours, Brundle and Tawny return to his warehouse. She's clearly plastered, but he seems completely sober, perhaps because his body is burning a lot of energy very quickly.


As Brundle and Tawny ascend the stairs, it sounds like the keys to the padlock on the lab's sliding door can be heard jangling in his pocket.


When Brundle teleports himself for the second time, the philosphical question of personal identity is once again raised. Is this entity made of new atoms still Brundle, or a perfect duplicate?


Brundle's sex scene with Tawny is the most blatant yet in the film, with Brundle mounting her and grunting like an animal. The initial sex scene with Veronica was tender and occurred off-camera, the second was more revealing and disturbing, and now this one is a few steps away from softcore pornography and is very disturbing. As with Brundle himself, the film's sexual tone is also mutating as he does. Also, this scene, in particular, combines many of the film's themes: technology (Brundle's teleportation), sex, and corruption of the flesh (the prominent insect hairs on Brundle's back).


Notice that Brundle accepts being called a "magician" by Tawny. Early on, he might have taken offense to Stathis' remarks about his work being a nightclub act, but now, in his mania, he's acting very much like a mad scientist or a crazed magician.


Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Later that same morning, Brundle is clearly not feeling quite as energized as before. He's hunched over, distracted. He's feeling the lesions on his face with his left hand, and his right hand is holding his left side as though it aches, a subtle foreshadowing of the insect leg amputation sequence that was deleted from the film (more on this later). Still, he insists on teleporting Tawny, holding on to his "addiction", even as his condition begins to deteriorate.


"No. Be afraid. Be very afraid". This dialogue of Veronica's became the tagline for the film, and have solidly ingrained themselves into pop-culture consciousness. By now, it may even be more famous to the general public than the classic, "Help me! Please, help me!".


Note that Brundle is still holding the left side of his torso as Veronica confronts him.


VERONICA: "You look bad...you smell bad". BRUNDLE: "I've never been much of a bather". In the Pogue script, similar dialogue was also used, but Geoff Powell was clearly established as having body odor due to a lack of bathing. In this version, though, it's entirely possible the smell is coming from Brundle's deteriorating flesh. Hard to say.


As Veronica confronts Brundle, he picks up an unwrapped chocolate bar and takes a bite, making a face (as though it tastes bad). This is very likely the first sign that his taste buds (and thus his digestive system) are beginning to change.


When Brundle forces Veronica out and slams the door behind her, it neatly contrasts with their first scene in the lab, when she stormed out and he tried to stop her.


Although Brundle puts on a good show of still feeling superior, immediately after he throws Veronica out, he rushes into the bathroom to inspect his face. Clearly, he really did believe her warning, deep down, but is still in denial (in fact, he seems to go through all the various stages of acceptance as the film progresses).


The white robe that Veronica wore in the "plasma pool" scene (and which Brundle wore in the deleted "Second Interview" scene) can be seen hanging in the bathroom. What appears to be a hair curler can also be seen in the bathroom (Brundle must use it to style that nifty mullet of his!).


Still in denial, Brundle tries to shave off one of the insect hairs on his face, getting it snagged in the razor. He shows off his superhuman strength when he angrily casts the razor aside, and it shatters.


Clearly nervous now, Brundle bites on his fingernail, only to see it fall out. This is the first step in the stripping away of the biological (remember, in Cronenberg's view, biology= identity) and psyhcological elements that make him Seth Brundle. Losing his nails shocks Brundle out of his mania and back to reality...for a while


The fluid that drips and squirts out of Brundle's discolored, nail-less fingers is more "fly juice".


"Give me a disc. Uhh...I need the first teleportation, S. Brundle". According to the script, the computer uses laserdiscs to store its information on. The discs can be seen sitting in slots located next to the computer console's monitor screen, and are accessed by Brundle's voice commands.


Brundle is now wearing old gloves, presumably in an attempt to keep his remaining nails on his fingers, and to protect the nail-less ones (which are probably sore).


A small dot (the fly) is barely visible as it's being scanned along with Brundle in the animated representation of his teleportation.


The teleportation-playback sequence is a bit confusing. First, we see a graphic of Brundle and the fly being scanned. Then, we see atoms being charted (presumably), with each labeled "BRU 001", "BRU 002", etc. Then we hear some insistent beeping, and we then see a DNA strand. The computer pulls back from the stand to reveal that it apparently belongs to the fly. Presumably, the playback is showing Brundle's atoms being charted, but the process being stopped when a second life-form is detected inside the Teleopod, confusing the computer.


Of course, he computer's laconic answers to Brundle's desperate questions are a darkly humorous reminder that "computers are dumb". The computer is "creative" and "dumb" at exactly the wrong moments in the film.


Brundle presumably lets one month go by because he's ashamed of his behavior towards Veronica. He also seems to have acquired a lot of junk food during this time, possibly by buying it in gross and having it delivered to his warehouse.


Chronology must be called into question once again. Veronica visits Brundle in his Stage 3 condition at night. She is seen wearing the same clothes she wore during this visit when she later confers with Stathis in his office (presumably the next morning). Then, at mid-day, she's still wearing the same clothes when she visits Brundle again, and by then, he's already progressed to Stage 4. Could Brundle have mutated that much in less than 24 hours? It is possible (BRUNDLE: "And it's been accelerating. Every day, there are...changes".). Or perhaps Veronica wore the same clothes (not exactly her Sunday best, mind you) several days in a row.

When Veronica visits Stage 3-4 Brundle, we can see that the tarp has been pulled off of the prototype Telepod, and that the door is open (indicating that Brundle has been working on reconditioning it in an attempt to find a cure).

Brundle's change in attitude is also very telling. Just the day before(ostensibly), he was "scared and angry and desperate". Now he seems almost gleeful, in a sarcastic sort of way. Quite a change in behavior over what is appearently a single day.

The deleted monkey-cat scene features Stage 4-B Brundle--the same as Stage 4-A, except that Brundle is naked. It is entirely possible that Brundle conducts the monkey-cat experiement on the same day that he gives the vomit-drop demonstration for Ronnie (or perhaps the next night).

Ronnie then has her nightmare, and presumably calls Stathis right after, wanting an abortion (this may be the same night as the monkey-cat experiment, or maybe a day or two after, since Brundle has mutated to Stage 5 the next time we see him). They then go to the warehouse, and the final act is set in motion, ending with Brundle's death.

Overall, I'd say it takes just under 5 weeks for Brundle to mutate, from start to finish.


Anyway, Brundle's Stage 3 condition makes its first and only appearance when Veronica
visits him after their one-month separation. He's once again wearing the clothes she bought for him (no doubt as an attempt to gain her sympathy and silently "apologize" to her at the same time), but the shirt is covered with vomit stains. He's still wearing the gloves (he probably still has a few fingernails at this point), and is now using canes (another old age mataphor), likely because his internal body structure is changing a great deal (which plays into the metaphorical idea that Brundle's outer body is serving as a "cocoon" of sorts for the final "Brundlefly" creature).

This scene represents the closest we'll ever again see Brundle acting and looking somewhat like he
did before the teleportation accident. Indeed, Cronenberg plays a sort of emotional tug-of-war with the audience throughout the film, fully playing up the Jekyll and Hyde aspects of the character. The audience most likely loses sympathy with Brundle when he begins acting like a brute and runs off to find someone who can "keep up" with him. After he loses his fingernails, however, he reverts back to the kind, caring, and sympathetic character we knew from the beginning of the film. However, the "vomit-drop" demo scene, which features Brundle's bizarre new enthusiasm for his condition, makes the audience uneasy once again. And the deleted monkey-cat scene that originally followed caused the preview audience to totally lose sympathy for Brundle for the duration of the film (the reason it was cut).

Brundle then becomes sympathetic again when he pleads Veronica to keep the baby, only to become brutal again when he mutilates Stathis. He then becomes sympathetic again when he begs Veronica to help him be human, only to turn around and try to merge with her. After he fully mutates into Brundlefly, he's semmingly lost for good in terms of audience sympathy, and is now "the enemy". In the end, however, Brundle becomes heartbreakingly sympathetic when he is fused with Telepod 2 and silently begs Veronica to end his suffering.


When Veronica visits, we can see that the tarp has been pulled off of the prototype Telepod, and that the door is open (indicating that Brundle has been reconditioning it in an attempt to find a cure).


Brundle's fear of his strange new disease being contagious was also symbolic of AIDS in the minds of many, but it's more likely an expression of Cronenberg's obsession with more universal diseases like old age and cancer.


Although Brundle is certainly very diseased, it's something of a miracle (or a plot necessity) that he doesn't develop a fatal tumor or such due to a genetic malfunction. It's likely someone else in the same situation would have. Yet, Brundle survives to become a literal fusion of man and insect (though not a viable or healthy fusion).


We can see that Brundle's lab is now cluttered with trash, half-eaten junk food, etc. As time goes on, this mess will get worse and worse. It is a physical representation (a metaphor made flesh, so to speak) of Brundle's ongoing mental and emotional disintegration. Cronenberg has used this visual metaphor in several of his films, including Dead Ringers (1988).


"I know an old lady who swallowed a fly. Perhaps she'll die". Brundle has acquired a "gallows humor" concerning his condition. He must make nervous, self-deprecating jokes, or he'll go insane (using dark humor to deal with disaster is a defense mechanism many people have). This particular joke is based on the popular children's song "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly". The full version of the lyric goes like this: "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly. I don't know why she swallowed the fly. Perhaps she'll die".


"It mated us, me and the fly. We weren't even properly introduced. My teleporter turned into a gene-splicier, and a very good one. Now, I'm not Seth Brundle anymore. I'm the offspring of...Brundle and housefly". In way (especially if the computer only took half of each organism's DNA and stuck them together), the computer did artificially mate Brundle and the fly. In theory, "Brundlefly" would be the result if a human and a fly could mate. This is another Cronenberg-esque connection between sexuality, technology, and corruption of the flesh from within.


"I'm...uh...just gonna disintegrate. In a novel way, no doubt. And then I'll die. And then it will be over". In a way, Brundle has just described the rest of the film quite accurately.


In the script, after Veronica asks Brundle why he called her, he explains that he wants her to continue taping him because the world will probably be even more interested in what went wrong than what went right with his work. These lines presumably fall into the "filmed but deleted" category (as do many, many other lines and little moments in the script, which may or may not have been filmed).


Since Brundle's "vomit-drop" doesn't instantly melt through the donut, it is apparently not yet as corrosive as it will later become.


The loss of Brundle's ear is yet another step towards his dehumanization. Note that more "fly juice" leaks out of the ear cavity.


"Help me...please, please help me!" This is, of course, a slightly modified version of the famous line from The Fly (1958).


The establishing shot of Monolith Publishing shows off (in close-up) a portion of the building (the name of the building) seen in the original establishing shot, when Veronica played her audiotape for Stathis.


The Stage 4 makeup is seen when Veronica returns to the lab and sees Brundle crawling on the ceiling. Note that he is no longer using the canes (his internal body structure has presumably re-formed, as he is now in the "hunched" posture of the final stage creature). Sticky, cushion-like pads have developed on his hands and feet, allowing him to cling to walls. Also, he's now wearing only a t-shirt and the pants Veronica bought for him, another visual cue that he's (literally) being stripped of his humanity, inside and out.


"Stopped biting my nails". Brundle has now lost all of his fingernails and toenails.


"Oh, look at this. What's this? I don't know". Brundle lifts his t-shirt to reveal a large, hernia-like bulge on the left side of his torso. This is the area that he was holding (as if it ached) during Stage 2, and from which an insect leg bursts out later in a scene that was deleted from the film.


Brundle's change in attitude is very telling. Just the day before (ostensibly), he was "scared and angry and desperate". Now he seems almost gleeful, in a sarcastic sort of way. Clearly, he's trying to rationalize the "disease" by studying it and treating it as a transformation ("a disease with a purpose"), in an attempt to keep from going totally insane (not that he's perfectly sane at this
point...). This ties into Croneberg's idea of the body-as-identity (can the body really be altered without the mind being affected, or vice versa?). As Brundle's body changes, he is also mentally and emotionally changing into something else.


"Turned into WHAT?", "Whadda ya think, a fly? Am I becoming a 185-lb fly? No, I'm becoming something that never existed before. I'm becoming...Brundlefly! Don't you think that's worth a Nobel Prize or two?" This appears to be something of an inside joke, as Geoff Powell literally (and rather illogically) became a 185-lb fly in Pogue's script. In Cronenberg's more realistic version, Brundle is becoming an organism that never existed before, a true fusion of an insect and a man that embodies elements of both.


It is unclear if Brundle has developed his proboscis (the "tongue" that flies use to eat) at this point, since we don't actually see him consume the junk food he vomits on..


The idea of Veronica's fearful pregnancy brings to mind another Cronenbergian theme: the fear of "alien" life incubating inside a human body (Brundle is going though the much same experience, in a way). It also brings to mind traditional human fears about any normal pregnancy.


After Veronica tells Stathis that she's pregnant, there originally followed the legendary sequence that ended up being cut from the film. In the scene, a desperate Brundle, already quite far along into his metamorphosis (in a transitional makeup stage that appears only in this one scene), attempts to merge an alley cat and a baboon (the same baboon that Brundle successfully teleported earlier in the film) together using the Telepods. However, the resulting "monkey-cat" creature comes out of the receiving Telepod terribly deformed, and attacks Brundle, who ends up beating the two-headed creature to death with a metal pipe to end its misery.


The sequence goes on to show the disturbed and desparing Brundle scaling the wall of his lab up to the roof. Perched on the rooftop in the moonlight, Brundle repeatedly cries out, "NO!", as if he's resisting the new insect urges that are beginning to consume him. He suddenly feels a sharp pain in his left side (specifically, in the hernia-like bulge seen in the final cut of the film when he first demonstates his wall-crawling powers), and accidentally slips off the roof, slides down the wall, lands on a metal awning, and watches as a small, fly-like leg emerges from his torso. Horrified by this new appendage, Brundle amputates it with his teeth. He spits it out, and it slides down the awing and lands in the alley, where it twitches for a moment as Brundle watches.


The script additionally called for the crazed Brundle to encounter a homeless woman in the alley after amputating the insect leg, whose face he would vomit on and consume, but this segment was written out of the movie before filming (although an actress was hired for the scene before it was cut).


Brundle's motivation for fusing the two animals together in the "Monkey-Cat" scene was intentionally somewhat ambiguous, but comments from the filmmakers have indicated that the merging of the two animals was supposed to be a test run for Brundle's fusion "cure" seen at the end of the completed film. Thematically, the whole point of the scene was that Brundle was trying to find some kind of cure for his rapidly deteriorating condition, but was clearly losing his sanity at the same time. The sequence was intended to be a major psychological turning point for the character (and it also explains why the surviving baboon is never seen again in the final cut of the film). When the insect leg amputation segment was being filmed, Director of Photography Mark Irwin was called away from the set as the result of a family emergency and could not return for the last week of filming. Robin Miller, one of Irwin's former assistant DPs, was called in to shoot the film's remaining footage, including Brundle's final transformation. He is credited under "Additional Photography" in the film's end titles. Since Goldblum was attached to a prosthetic torso (which took five hours to get him into), the amputation had to be filmed then or not at all. An elderly cameraman (Kenneth Post, C.S.C., as the "Additional Photography" credits in the film's end titles indicate) took over for Irwin, but the finished shot turned out to be too dark and underlit to "read" in dailies (but the shots were digitally restored and brightened for the 2005 DVD version of the scene). The insect leg amputation would have provided a climax for the "hernia-bulge on Brundle's side" subplot.


The "Monkey-Cat" scene was included in a rough-cut preview-screening of the film in Toronto. Allegedly, the film was shown twice--once with the "Monkey-Cat" scene included, and once without, and the audience was asked which version they preferred. The audience reacted very strongly to the scene, with at least one person throwing up. The general consensus from the preview audience was that Brundle was being cruel to the animals, and, as a result, they lost sympathy for him for the duration of the film. So, the sequence was cut, and remained unseen for nearly 20 years.


For the 2005 DVD, the scene was restored from the original negative, with tracked-in sound effects and music taken from the completed film to give it a more "finished" feel than it ever had before (although the teleportations of the cat and the baboon are still missing the "lightning" animation). Film historian Tim Lucas, who was on assignment for Cinefex magazine and was present during much of the making of the film, has stated that the version of the scene shown at the Toronto preview screening began with a long tracking shot that crawled across Brundle's junk-littered floor and then up his body to reveal the Stage 4-B makeup in horrific detail. Indeed, this shot appears in the 2005 DVD's mammoth "Fear of the Flesh" documentary (seen in raw daily form when Chris Walas is talking about how this particular makeup stage was his favorite). However, as presented on the DVD, the scene begins with a close-up shot of the back of Brundle's head, and dollies around to reveal each Telepod, ending on a close-up of Brundle's face. Since the scene was reconstructed shot-by-shot for the DVD from the original camera negative (and the edit based on the original workprint), it's possible that the version of the scene on the DVD is slightly different than the one previewed in Toronto, or that Lucas' recollection is incorrect (perhaps he simply remembers the opening shot from dailies).



Even in Veronica's abortion nightmare, she is still wearing the necklace Brundle bought for her.


The bespectacled obstretician who delivers Veronica's "maggot-baby" is played by none other than David Cronenberg, in his only major cameo in one of his own films (to date).


The maggot-baby puppet had a "face" that can't really be seen in the film proper.


When Brundle is working on "The Brundlefly Project", the text on the computer screen reads, "GOAL: TO REFINE FUSION PROGRAM". The "fusion program" in question was established in the deleted "monkey-cat" scene, and it needs refining because that particular experiment didn't end well, apparently because the baboon and the cat were merged in a physical way (not at the genetic level, as Brundle and the fly were).


Due to what appears to be a sound effects editing error, it seems as if Brundle is typing "SOLUTION: FUSION BY GENE-SPLICING OF BRUNDLEFLY WITH ONE OR MORE PURE HUMAN SUBJECTS". In fact, this looks to be the COMPUTER's coldly mathematical and logical solution (50% human/50% fly + 100% human= 75% human) to Brundle's plight. We can assume that it's supposed to be the computer "speaking" because the "arrow" which always precedes the computer's text prefaces the "solution").


Brundle's fingers are losing their human dexterity, so he's using a pencil to help with his typing.


Brundle's Stage 5 condition is a more radical version of Stage 4-B. There are also many long insect hairs all over his body (which plays into Veronica's earlier line, "I don't really think you want a body covered with these!"). A large bulge can also be seen on his right side now, the first hint of another insect leg.


Brundle seems surprised by the loss of his teeth (many more worse things have happened before this), but his lip-smacking reaction is priceless.


An empty, torn box of "Cap'n Crunch" cereal can be seen in Brundle's bathroom sink.


Brundle is now treating his dropped-off body parts as relics on his voyage of discovery. His "Museum of Natural History" consists of (from left to right): his left ear (in soap tray), a toe (possibly, in jar), some bits of flesh (or maybe fingernails), part of his penis (or another toe, perhaps, in medicine bottle), his penis, and his testicles (maybe, in jar).


BRUNDLE: "You've missed some good moments. Is that why you're here, to catch up?" This line of is rather ironic, since audiences, like Veronica, missed out on some of those moments when the "monkey-cat" sequence was deleted.


Upon close examination, the burst-open bulge and insect leg stump from the end of the monkey-cat sequence can be seen on Brundle's left side for the duration of Stage 5.


Veronica has clearly come to tell Brundle that she's pregnant (and that she wants to have an abortion), but can't go through with it. Throughout the scene, she fondles the necklace Brundle gave her, as though trying to recall happier times.


The meaning of the "Insect Politics" speech would appear to be that Brundle still wants to remain human, but his new biological urges are warping his ability to feel compassion and compromise. The idea of what it means to be human (Genotype? Phenotype? Behavior?) comes into play here, as Brundle essentially says that since he's genetically a human-fly combo, he's becoming less and less human intellectually and behaviorally ("the insect is awake"), and that he's becoming dangerous. The tragedy of it all is that he's still lucid enough to realize this sad fact, and is still able to articulate it.


The shot of Brundle peering at Veronica from the roof of the lab (as well as his sprinting over rooftops with her in his arms later on) seem to be a deliberate homage to horror genre conventions (he is deformed and hunched over like Quasimodo at this point, after all...)


Although Brundle had seemingly severed his ties with Veronica, learning of her planned abortion is what sends him over the edge (he tells her to leave him for good, but then goes after her and abducts her).


Dr. Brent Cheevers (played by Cronenberg "veteran" Les Carlson) had a lengthier appearance in the script, a segment of which can be seen on the 2005 DVD. It's clear that he and Stathis are old friends.


Brundle claims that his unborn baby "...might be...all that's left of the real me!". This echos his earlier rantings in the cafe: "Of course, interestingly, at the exact same moment when I achieved what'll probably prove to be my life's work, that's the moment when I started being the real me, finally".


"Too bad...too bad". When Veronica refuses Brundle's request to have the baby, he gets an insane gleam in his eyes...time for plan "B".


When Stathis enters Brundle's lab, he makes a face. He's clearly smelling all the rotten food and garbage that's been accumualting in the lab.


The script establishes Stathis' shotgun as one used for skeet-shooting, the only one he has access to on such short notice.


The fact that Brundle's vomit looks like semen is surely an intentional reference. It's also become much more caustic by this time. When Brundle is vomiting, his lower jaw flexes in a very inhuman way (as though it's been split in half down the middle, kind of like Martinfly's jaw in The Fly II).


Some of Brundle's vomit splatters onto Stathis' chest, creating a bloody wound there. The script states that the wounds were cauterized by the vomit, and this is why Stathis doesn't bleed to death.


A lengthy shot of Brundle picking up Stathis' severed foot, ejecting a proboscis from his mouth (the same one seen on the final stage creature), and sucking up bloody fluid from the foot was filmed but deleted. The final cut thus keeps Brundle from becoming a cannibal, and makes it seem as if he's using his vomit purely as a weapon (presumably, Brundle's intent for the attack on Stathis was a combination of revenge and feeding, thanks to his body's new insect urges). Blood can be seen on Brundle's chin as Veronica calls out to him and he's licking his lips, as well, which are the only remnants of the deleted segment.


As Brundle leads Veronica to the computer, she looks off to screen right and gasps, as she's most likely seeing the wounded, semi-conscious Stathis on the floor.


Brundle's notion of creating the "ultimate family" by merging with Veronica is his last, mad reach for a cure, and also a very Cronenberg-esque "What-if?" concerning sex and personal identity. This intended fusion would be the ultimate form of sexuality and intimacy, as a man and a woman share a single body. Thankfully (for us as well as Veronica), we don't see the result of this plan (which would have likely have been a hideous, mortally stricken THING, not what Brundle intended).


The shot of Brundle stumbling and knocking over the lamp is the last shot of Jeff Goldblum in the film. From this point on, it's all puppetry.


CWI's idea for the final transformation was that Brundle's inner formation fills itself with air (like many pupatating insects do, expanding and tearing through its "cocoon" (his outer layer of skin). Presumably, Brundle's remaining "useless" parts (jaw, dead fingers, etc.) were held together with loose connective tissue. His optic nerves presumably were still functional, despite the insect eyes sitting behind the human ones.


David Cronenberg felt that the film is rather like a documentary which depicts the birth, evolution, and death of a new species, called Brundlefly. Indeed, it's as if teleportation serves as a form of reproduction (which reinforces the sex/technology motif), with Brundle's body giving "birth" to the final stage "Brundlefly" creature.


In a series of close-ups, we see Brundle's right hand shedding its skin (and some fingers) and sprouting claws, his right leg reversing its joint (becoming insect-like), his left leg getting an extra joint below the knee, another, more developed insect leg bursting out of the bulge on his right side, and his left foot shedding its skin. "Fly juice" can be seen dripping from Brundle during all of these shots.


In the next shot, as Brundle begins to step backward, we can see his human jaw on the floor. Also, he "steps out" of his human right foot, revealing an insect-like hoof.


As Brundle's human head bursts open, we can see the final result of his fusion with the fly, Stage 6, aka Brundlefly (although the crew called it the "Space Bug" on-set). Although it would seem Brundle's mind is totally gone at this point, it soon becomes clear that he's till in there, and is probably in terrible pain and confusion.


Note that Stathis' shotgun is covered in blood from Brundle's attack on him earlier.


Brundlefly's "vocalizations" are presumably the result of the creature trying to speak without having a mouth to give shape to words.


Stathis' shotgun severs the connection between Telepod 1 (which Veronica is trapped in) and the computer, thus leaving it out of the fusion sequence.


Sexuality permeates Cronenberg's work, sometimes in blatant ways, sometimes in subtle ways. Cronenberg has said that the teleportation process is akin to rebirth, and that the Telepods are like giant mechanical wombs. The Telepods become more and more sexual throughout the film, until they're finally used by Brundle as an attempt to explore a bizarre new form of sexuality: fusing one's atoms together with the atoms of one's lover and literally becoming one with them.

Instead, however, Brundlefly becomes fused with Telepod 2, which again places emphasis on the sexuality of technology, a very Cronenebrgian theme. Creator (Brundle) fuses with creation (Telepod 2) and creator (Telepod 2) fuses with creation (Brundlefly). Brundlefly returns to the "womb" so to speak, and then dies.

When this final fusion occurs, the computer screen says, "FUSION OF BRUNDLEFLY AND TELEPOD SUCCESSFUL". The computer surely was never programmed to included the Telepods themselves in the process, another example of it being "creative"). The screen also reads that the CPU is at 89% when performing this final fusion.


In "The fly Papers" article in Cinefex # 28 (which can also be seen on the 2005 DVD), video graphics designer Lee Wilson states that he enjoyed a computer split-screen he created for the film, one which compared Brundle's bodily components with similar components built into the Telepod. However, no such graphic appears in the final cut of the film. This almost certainly refers to a computer screen graphic created for Brundlefly's fusion with Telepod 2.


Merged with a chunk of Telepod 2, the Stage 7 "Brundlething" (or "Brundlebooth") (as the crew called it) has wings of a sort.


Veronica's hands are bloody in the end (literally and symbolically) because she was holding Stathis' bloody shotgun (although it was his blood on the gun, not Brundle's).


When the Brundlething begs for death, we see that Seth Brundle is still in there, making his death that much more tragic. By asking for compassion and compromise from Veronica, Brundle, in effect, becomes the first "Insect Politician" (as he had hoped to be earlier).


It seems appropriate that, of the three main characters, Veronica is the least "damaged" in the end, as she is the emotional center of the film and should be the one to determine her unborn child's fate. Her weakness (according to Cronenberg) was her habit of molding herself around the men in her life, and their work. Now, the future is in her hands.

The ending of the film went through several incarnations in the various drafts of the script before the final version was filmed:

In one early version of the ending (from a September, 1985 draft of the script), Veronica is unconscious after Brundlefly throws her into Telepod 1. When the Brundlething emerges from the prototype telepod, the raging and mortally wounded creature crawls toward the injured Stathis Borans, who manages to grab a loose wire jutting from the telepod/human/fly-hybrid creature's back and jams it into an electrical socket. The Brundlething is liquified by the electricity.

A later version of the scene (from a November, 1958 draft of the script) is nearly idenitical, except that the Brundlething crawls toward Stathis (whether it wants to attack him or is just desperate for help is left ambiguous) and then dies suddenly.

In the version of the script that appears on the 2005 DVD (a revised version from January, 1986), Veronica is conscious during the final scene, and when the Brundlething emerges from the receiving telepod and crawls toward her, she aims Stathis' shotgun at it, but the creature ends up dying at her feet. Eventually, this was slightly changed to the mercy-killing seen in the completed film.



The film has an unused epilogue, which was shot four different ways (all of which can be seen on the DVD). In the version of the scene as originally scripted (and previewed for a Los Angeles test audience), Veronica Quaife is seen in bed with Stathis Borans (having married him) some time after Seth Brundle's death. She awakens from another nightmare in which she gives birth to Brundle's child, and Stathis reassures her that she's safe, and that the baby she's now carrying (having presumably aborted Brundle's) is his. Veronica then falls back asleep, and we see that she's now dreaming of a beautiful human baby with butterfly wings hatching from a cocoon and flying off towards a distant light source (filmed with stop-motion animation).


The other filmed versions of the epilogue featured:


Veronica in bed with Stathis (much the same as the version that was previewed), but without her being pregnant. Instead, Stathis reassures her that "there's no baby". She then falls back asleep and has the butterfly baby dream.


Veronica waking up alone and in her own bed, then falling back asleep and having the butterfly baby dream. In this version, she is clearly still pregnant with Brundle's baby.


Veronica waking up alone and in her own bed, then having the butterfly baby dream. In this version, she's not visibly pregnant (thus leaving the ending ambiguous).



The epilogue did not fare well with the preview audience, and ended up being cut from the film because no one wanted to see Ronnie end up with Stathis, the stop-motion animation of the "butterfly baby" wasn't enitrely convincing, and because both the audience and the filmmakers felt that the story should end with Brundle's mercy-killing at Veronica's hands. Many fans agree with this, but there's still that nagging question about the fate of the baby that the final cut of the film gives us.


In Charles Edward Pogue's original script, Barbara Powell gives birth to a maggot-baby, only to then wake up from her nightmare and see that she's actually given birth to a perfectly normal baby.



Now, on the one hand, it sort of makes sense that Ronnie would end up with Stathis (moreso when one reads the script than when one views the completed film), but taking into account the dynamics of the completed film (Ronnie is colder towards Stathis in the film than in the script--something John Getz talks about on the DVD--and the emphasis on the Brundle-Ronnie love story that evolved during editing), it feels wrong to see Stathis "get the girl". It's clear that Cronenberg was wrestling with the dynamics of the characters, since he shot the coda four ways to give himself some options for the ending.


For my part, I prefer the Stathis-less ending with Ronnie in her own bed, visibly pregnant. Geena Davis also reportedly liked this "She's gonna have it!" version.


Why do I prefer it? I think it ties in well to the film's (and Cronenberg's) exploration of the possibities (good AND bad) of the unknown. It's as if Ronnie has decided to take a risk and explore the possibilites of the New Flesh, just as Brundle did. On the other hand, the baby could have been conceived before Brundle went through, and really was "all that's left of the real me".


And, although Brundle's experience was horrific, Cronenberg has rightly pointed out that there is a strange sort of exhilaration on his part, even as his body parts are dropping off and so on. So it seems somehow poetic that his exuberance for a new reality of flesh would rub off on Ronnie.


And it's important to point out that the butterfly-baby was not supposed to be what the baby "really" was. Rather, it was apparently an attempt to show that the baby could be something as just beautiful as Brundlefly was horrible. In other words, a dream of Ronnie's (symbolizing her hope about what the baby could be) that was the exact opposite of her earlier maggot-baby dream (which symbolized her fears about what the baby could be).


If one of the versions of the coda in which Veronica aborted Brundle's child had stayed in, then the premise of the sequel, The Fly II (1989), would have been negated. As it stood, the open ending left room for the sequel to pick up those loose story threads, for good or ill.



The film's end titles have a few interesting tidbits:



The crew consists of many Cronenberg film "regulars" and veterans.


Cronenberg's sister, Denise, was the costume designer.


Under the CWI credits, crew member Guy Hudson is listed as "Sir Guy of Hudson", and Jim Issac is listed as "Jim Smash Issac".

1 Comments:

Blogger L said...

This "Annotated Fly" is wonderful, you did a great work, thank you very much!!

9:52 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home