CGI:Can’t Get Interested

May 21, 2007 at 2:56 pm 1 comment

The Fly

I recently watched David Cronenberg‘s The Fly (1986). Raccoon‘s useful list of films, and a discussion in particular of The Fly as a species of romantic comedy got me interested. Raccoon says:

I’ll tip my hat to the 1950’s one final time (albeit indirectly) by including David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of 1958’s The Fly—the original is a silly bit of hokum, but it turns to something elegiac and moving in Cronenberg’s hands, one of the best meditations on illness that the cinema has ever produced.

And the film is great, at once a send-up of the romantic-comedy genre and an earnest articulation of bio-technological anxiety. In short it takes the gag of an out of control body that appears farting or secreting in comedies like Meet the Parents, Something about Mary, or anything with Ben Stiller, apparently, to its conclusion in the more or less absolute dissidentification of the body–a material collapse of the human shell. The Fly takes literally the notion that a significant other is a creep. Albeit, as is usually the case, a creep with a certain pathos.

In Cronenberg’s film, Brundlefly’s pathos would be completely compromised by CGI. It’s hard to imagine the film being made with puppets today. And that’s a real loss, because in the same way that the telepods in The Fly have a hard time reproducing flesh, so too the technology of computer generated images fails to capture the visceral immediacy that a puppet or human actor conveys.

Geroge Romero does a pretty good job of marrying the technologies (puppets and CGI) in Land of the Dead, but he could get away with just puppets, if he wanted to. I don’t think the romance with CGI will end for directors. But for this viewer anyway, the immateriality of CGI fails to capture the coarse granularity of a past generation of films. And that is a loss of life.

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Entry filed under: Bodies and Machines, body, David Cronenberg, Film, George Romero, horror, Land of the Dead, The Fly, Uncategorized.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. cerebraljetsam  |  May 22, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Yes, I agree, Especially in Romero’s case. I just saw a short interview with him, in which he said that _Land_ was initially supposed to be a zombie film thematizing AIDS, and the exclusion of Africa in this respect, but that no one wanted to touch the script he wrote until 9/11 drastically changed the analogical structure and the script ended up beconing _Land_. I find that quite interesting.


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