Monday, 3 October 2011

The Fly 1958 Review

Figure 1. The Fly poster

In This Classic 1950's American sci-fi horror directed by Kurt Nuemann an over obsessive Professor Andre Delambre (David Hedison) is manipulating the very laws of physics with his teleportation devices. His revolutionary idea requires the disintegration of matter into single atoms which are then projected through the air and are reassembled in the correct order in the corresponding teleportation unit. The Professor appears to be on the edge of a breakthrough, after successfully teleporting a guinea pig he decides to test his invention on himself when, due to a single moment of carelessness, an ordinary housefly enters the teleporter and the two are inadvertently spliced together.


Figure 2. Andre-fly

The fly headed and armed creature, previously professor Andre, is very suggestive of the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians where theriocephalic (Theriocephaly - the condition or quality of having the head of an animal- see figure 2) depictions of humans with animal heads were worshipped as deities. The most famous of which being Horus, always pictured with the head of a falcon and Anubis, depicted with the head of a jackal. Although what seems to stand out in this instance is that the hybridized Andre-fly is more of a creature and relates back to Greek Mythology where humans were subjected to horrific metamorphosis as punishment for their pride.

Figure 3. Andre and Dandelo

This film touches on the ethics of playing God and introduces a state of karmic retribution where one man is punished for seeking to elevate mankind above and beyond godlike stature. It is noticeable that this film warns of the dangers of the rapid advance of science and the amount of power one man can possess, “Stripped of a voice, this Fly channels fears about what science...specifically nuclear energy...might yield during the Cold War.” (Hedison,1958) here Hedison reflects on his portrayal of the fly and relates to us the fears 1950’s America had of exposure to atomic radiation and the threat of a nuclear war with the Russians. As we see in figure 3 Andre attempts to teleport Dandelo, the family cat, with unsuccessful results and also in figure 2 it is clear that his experiment has gone disastrously wrong thus feeding the public’s fear of the super advancement of radioactive technology.

Figure 4. THE END

List of Illustrations:
(Figure 1)
(Figure 2)
(Figure 3)
(Figure 4),r:9,s:41


(Hedison,1958) The Fly, David Hedison, 1958. © 20th Century Fox Film Corp./ Courtesy of the Everett Collection.


  1. Hey Fred, you big dope; you lead me to believe this would be total car-crash, when in fact what you accomplish in the opening section is the 'holy grail' of academic writing - the ability to link the small thing to the big thing - in other words using one film to open up the whole contextual continuum of an existing idea - i.e. human metamorphosis as site of meaning; the linkage of Greek myth, fear of the atom, and hubris is all solid, engaging stuff - and all your review is lacking are some killer quotes that help you further scaffold your argument that 'The Fly' is on that same continuum with the most ancient of myths. I know this took you a while, and that's commendable, but focus is the big skill here - learn to formulate arguments and there set boundaries (i.e., if you're focusing on 'pride' and metamorphosis as punishment, then you needn't concern yourself in this instance with 'Metamorphosis as body-horror' or whatever. The same is true of the introduction you write for your essay - it's as much about ruling stuff out of the discussion as it is about ruling stuff in. Be bold, be proactive and wake up to the idea of what it's possible to say in a) a short review, and b) a 1,500 word written assignment.

    Personally, I'm very encouraged, Fred. Onwards and upwards!

  2. phew.. I was worrying a lot about this one but knowing I'm on the right track is encouraging. I'm powering on with my second review now and I must say a huge weight has been lifted and the whole experince has become something to almost look forward to as opposed to it being a chore... almost. thanks for the advice Phil. hopefully my next one'll be up as soon as possible :D