The Fly is a 1986 science-fiction film that was produced by David Cronenburg. In the film, Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldbum) develops three telepods that teleport human and animals in a matter of seconds. Meanwhile, he falls in love with a science fiction reporter and the two establish a romantic affair. The couple spends times in Seths science laboratory that also serves as his abode. Seth promises his lover that she will be the first to report about the discovery once its complete. In the later stages of the telepod development, Seth successfully teleports himself and this point marks the end of his long work of research. It is also the hallmark of the movie that forms the basis of the episodes that follow. During his teleportation, Seth boards the telepod with a housefly. Unknown to Seth, the telepod fuses his genetic material with that of the fly, making Seth to mutate into a human-fly hybrid. This hybrid is grotesquely looking, and acquires the powers and characteristics of a monster. Veronica, Seths lover, becomes terrified to associate with the monster, but Brindelfly, as the monster is now called, still loves Veronica. In one of the sexual escapades with Seth, Veronica conceives a baby but she is very unwilling to carry it to term. She, therefore, plans to procure an abortion, a move which Brundlefly objects. Brundlefly later turns violent towards Veronica which calls for the intervention of her editor, Stathis Borans. In the later stages of Brundleflys life, she gets fused with his telepods and transforms into a further ugly-looking organic-computer form. It is in this condition that Brundlefly begs Borans to kill it, which he does by blowing off its head with a gun. This highly rated movie is symbolic of the adverse effects of technology that the director exhibits with styles such as allegory and hyperbole.
Symbolism in The Fly forms the highest percentage of the stylistic devices that Cronenberg uses in his work. First, Seth Brundle symbolizes a scientist who is overwhelmed by curiosity and the desire for fame. After the failure of his telepods to teleport a live baboon, Seth modifies the structure of the telepod and experiments its performance with himself. He is curious to find if his research will yield fruits after a short period of experimentation. To his detriment, Seth gets trapped in his own mess and becomes a mutant in a matter of seconds. Seth also seeks to become famous for making the first telepod. He even keeps Veronica on standby to break the news after he succeeds in his endeavor. Unfortunately, his haste and greed for fame brings more disaster that even involves the reporter.
Another symbol that Cronenberg incorporates in The Fly is a telepod. This invention is representative of the many products of technology that scientist are making on a daily basis. Such devices include computers, electric trains, mobile phones, and super computer. Just like in the film, these products are harmful as are useful (Slovic, Flynn, & Kunreuther 17). For instance, mobile phones use radio waves that science has shown to be harmful to the human brain. Computers, on the other side, are tools that black hat hackers are using to infiltrate the data systems of banks and government agencies to steal information and money. In the movie, Seth creates the Telepods with an aim of changing the world as we know it. However, the change he envisioned backfired on him and his family to be. Seth dies as a human computer hybrid, while Veronica has to live with fears of giving birth to a giant maggot.
Veronica and her baby are symbolic of collateral damage that results from destructive technology. The manufacturers and developers of video games and website cause harm not only to themselves but to other users who encounters the destructive material. The baboons that Seth uses in the trial phases of his devices are also collateral damage that could be avoided if Seth refrained from making the telepods in the first place. Other characters that are involved in Seths mess like Borans experience that damage done by destructive technology on human and the environment. As a result, Boran partakes in an abortion attempt and later becomes Seths murderer. Symbolism in the film is also tied with the themes that the movies talks about.
One of the themes of The Fly is Technology. Technology is the use of scientific knowledge in different aspects of life, the major aspect being industry (Williams ix). In the film, Seth is an eccentric scientist who develops a technological device to teleport him and other organisms into another state. The device, which is called a telepod, has a special ability to decode and modify genetic material while at the same time express the new phenotype resulting from genetic mix-up. There are virtually very few machines that have the ability to reorganize organic DNA, leave alone teleporting living beings. However, after many years of research, Seth discovers how to make a practical Telepod that turns out be harmful than beneficial.
The products of science ought to be beneficial. Every now and them, the government and non-governmental organizational are funding the incubation of new scientific ideas that would transform how common things are done. For instance, technology is exploited to make artificial organs like kidneys that would have the ability to filter out very small molecules such as glucose and proteins from the blood (Fishell, Shuyo & Davenport 257). Also, in the field of medicine, there is a lot of money that goes to research on the study of viral and bacterial mutations to help develop diseases to new strains of these organisms that emerge. However, this research is expensive, and often hits a dead end after many years of trials. Seths telepods, with their ability to read the genetic material and recombine non-related genes proves to be a scientific masterpiece that can come in handy in oncology and microbiology. However, this kind of technology ought to have the undo mode or self-switching apparatus that detects abnormality and stops further processing of data. The lack of this functionality is the cause of Seths disastrous fate in the film.
The theme of abortion, although not given much coverage, is discussed in the movie. Just like in contemporary settings, the act is illegal and it is performed under the cover of darkness. What draws the viewers attention on the abortion episode is the motive behind many procurers of abortion. In the film, Veronica fears that she is carrying a monster maggot that may turn out to be dangerous to her health at term. She, together with Borans, agrees that the creature in her womb ought to be removed since she is not sure whether its genetic makeup has mutated just like its sire. Veronicas argument for carrying out abortion is congruent with the reasons for which women commit abortion. Research has shown that victims of rape or abusive marriages have a high tendency of procuring abortion since they think that the children that they are carrying may turn out to be violent like their fathers in the future (Chibba et. al. 135). Other reasons given for abortion in the contemporary world include family planning. Medically, doctors recommend the legal procurement of abortion when and if the pregnancy is a threat to the life or health of the mother. In The Fly, carrying a giant maggot to term would pose a serious threat to Veronicas life because she might not be able to deliver the baby. However, as Brundlefly thinks, the baby that Veronica carried was his hope of becoming a better human.
Produced in 1986, its arguable that the Fly incorporated the theme of Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The films plot from the start to the end describes a condition of mans own making, which is sexually transmitted, and that leads to a slow and painful death. The condition described changes the physical look of a person and significantly deteriorates his health. The graphics in the film resemble the images of a chronically ill HIV patient who has been attacked by a plethora of diseases due to immunosuppression. AIDS, as Cronenburg describes it, slowly eats up a person and affects the community surrounding the infected person. In 1986, the study on antiretroviral drugs had not been advanced, and a HIV patient developed complications that were not reversible. The viral loads reached high levels and the person was prone to every kind of infection. With the advent of medications, the complication of HIV slowly went away and people were able to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. If indeed the producer wanted to present the dangers of HIV, the graphics in the film went overboard for this purpose. The transfiguration of a human being onto a housefly is probably not the best way to warn people on the dangers of AIDS, although the producer is aware that HIV is a highly mutating virus whose nature is hitherto elusive (Deng et. al., 381). Nonetheless, the films setting and cinematography work together to capture the effects of this challenge for the medical world.
The Fly is set in a laboratory equipped with many computers and high traffic of data cables. The computers are connected to one another in a disorganized manner, perhaps to denote Seths lack of objectivity in research. The initial look of the laboratory matches with the outcome of Seths research that turns against him in the end.
In conclusion, symbolism and exaggeration have been employed by the producer to present various themes like abortion, technology, and AIDS. However, there is too much exaggeration that makes the film thrilling and at the same time horrifying. Cronenberg has successfully shown the adverse effects of scientific research that is not objective, and whose intended purpose is not clearly defined. He shows that although Seths work was impressive, it failed to incorporate various strategic functionalities that could turn off the system when things go wrong. Regardless of this failure, Seths telepod show that there is a possibility of exploring different aspects in science including the elaborate study of genetic mutations that cause diseases such as cancer and increase in the virulence of viruses and bacteria.
Deng, Kai, et al. "Broad CTL response is required to clear latent HIV-1 due to dominance of escape mutations." Nature 517.7534 (2015): 381-385.
Fissell, William H., Shuvo Roy, and Andrew Davenport. "Achieving more frequent and longer dialysis for the majority: wearable dialysis and implantable artificial kidney devices." Kidney international 84.2 (2013): 256-264.
Chibber, Karuna S., et al. "The role of intimate partners in women's reasons for seeking abortion." Women's Health Issues 24.1 (2014): e131-e138.
Slovic, Paul, James Flynn, and Howard Kunreuther. Risk, media and stigma: Understanding public challenges to modern science and technology. Routledge, 2013.
Williams, P. John, ed. Technology education for teachers. Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.
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