Seth Brundle
The Fly
Seth Brundle.jpeg
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Seth Brundle
First appearance The Fly
Last appearance The Fly II (in archival videotape footage)
Created by David Cronenberg
Portrayed by Jeff Goldblum
Species Human (pre-teleportation)
Human/Insect Hybrid (post-teleportation)
Gender Male
Occupation Molecular physicist
Relatives Martin Brundle (son)

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Dr. Seth Brundle, also known as Brundlefly, is a fictional character and the protagonist turned anti-villain in David Cronenberg's 1986 remake of The Fly. He is played by Jeff Goldblum. Brundle was the second of Goldblum's "nerdy scientist" roles (a character type he played previously in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and later played in The Race for the Double Helix, Jurassic Park, Independence Day and The Lost World: Jurassic Park), and is one of his most famous roles to date.[1]

The character of Brundle was played by Daniel Okulitch in Howard Shore's 2008 opera The Fly in its premiere at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.[2]

Fictional biography[edit | edit source]

Invention of the Telepods[edit | edit source]

Seth Brundle mastered molecular physics at the age of 20, and devoted his life to developing a teleportation system, due to his severe motion sickness, to allow himself to travel places without getting sick. Brundle dedicated his life to his invention, and adopted personality traits similar to Albert Einstein, such as owning 5 pairs of the exact same set of clothing to save mental energy deciding what to wear. Brundle attended a convention hosted by Anton Bartok (who would eventually become the main antagonist in the sequel), where he met Particle Magazine journalist, Veronica Quaife. Brundle convinced Veronica to allow him to demonstrate his newly created "Telepods" to her, gaining her intrigue when he stated that it would "change the world". Brundle was able to convince Veronica not to send her story on him to her boss, Stathis Borans, as he wasn't ready for the world to hear about it yet, in exchange for allowing Veronica to help on his projects. After the two share an intimate encounter, Brundle has an epiphany that the telepods were reinterpreting flesh instead of reproducing it, leading to Brundle reprogramming the system to allow the successful teleportation of a baboon. Veronica abruptly left to confront Stathis after learning he was planning to unveil Brundle's telepods prematurely, which Brundle interpreted as Veronica still being in love with Stathis. The drunken and depressed Brundle performs the Telepod's human testing on himself to deprive Veronica witnessing his miracle of science. Unbeknownst to him, a common housefly had entered the Telepod at the same time as him, leading to the computer merging the two together. Brundle sees the test as a success and reconciles with Veronica. When Brundle awakens in the morning, he finds that his reflexes and senses have enhanced. Brundle theorises that the telepods had somehow purified and improved his physicality. However, Veronica discovers coarse and unusual hairs growing out of Brundle's back, leading to a heated exchange where Brundle claims Veronica is simply jealous of him. Brundle attempted to force Veronica to use the Telepods, but she refused and Brundle stormed off, abandoning her. Brundle entered a bar and entered an arm-wrestling competition with a man in exchange for his girlfriend, Tawny. Brundle uses his newfound superhuman strength to snap the man's arm and spends the rest of the night engaging in sexual escapades with Tawny. Brundle attempted to force Tawny to use the telepods, only for Veronica to intervene and Tawny and Veronica being kicked out of the laboratory. Brundle then enters his bathroom and notices his fingernails are beginning to fall off.

Degeneration[edit | edit source]

The degeneration stages of Seth Brundle into Brundlefly designed by Chris Walas

After this discovery, Brundle rushes to the computer and discovers that the telepods had merged him and the housefly together. Brundle eventually calls Veronica to reconcile, and confides with her that his body has begun to degenerate into a deformed hybrid creature he had begun calling "Brundlefly". Brundle also begins showing other fly-like characteristics such as consistently vomiting a corrosive enzyme on his food to be able to digest it and an addiction to sugary foods. Brundle becomes increasingly overwhelmed by the shock and horror of his mutation and begins finding the humour of his degeneration, including his ability to stick to walls, while still searching for a cure for his condition all the same. Brundle then comes to the conclusion that the only way to become human again is to use the telepods to merge with another human. Brundle overhears a conversation between Veronica and Stathis that Veronica is pregnant with Brundle's child, and plans to abort it. This led to Brundle storming into the clinic Veronica is at and abducting her before she can carry through with her abortion. Brundle begged Veronica to keep the child as it was "all that's left of him", Veronica confessed her fears that the child might be a hybrid as well. Brundle takes Veronica back to his warehouse and witnesses Stathis enter the facility with a shotgun. Brundle attacked Stathis and dissolved his left hand and right leg with his corrosive enzymes before Veronica pleaded with him not to kill Stathis.

Death[edit | edit source]

Brundle reveals his plan to Veronica to use the original two Telepods to merge the two of them and their unborn child together in a third telepod that will act as a receiving pod. Veronica resisted him, and accidentally removed Brundle's jaw in the scuffle, prompting Brundle's final mutation, causing Brundle's rotting flesh to shed and reveal the gruesome man-housefly hybrid monster that had been growing inside of him. Brundlefly trapped Veronica inside Telepod 1 and stepped inside Telepod 2 to initiate the merge. Stathis, still conscious, severs the cables to Telepod 1 with a shotgun to allow Veronica to escape safely. Brundlefly attempted to break out of the second Telepod, but was too late, and becomes a monstrous combination of the hybrid and the metal of the Telepods. As the Brundlefly-Telepod hybrid exited the receiving pod, Brundle moved the shotgun Veronica was holding to his head, pleading for her to put him out of his misery. Veronica hesitated at first, but mercifully pulled the trigger, killing Brundle and leaving Veronica devastated.[3]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

Main article: The Fly II

Months after Brundle's death, Veronica dies while giving birth to their child, Martin. Martin continued his father's work and was often shown videotapes of Seth's work. Martin would eventually transform into a new version of Brundlefly, but was successfully able to cure his condition.[4][5]

Production[edit | edit source]

Before Goldblum was cast, many actors were considered for the role of Seth Brundle, including Richard Dreyfuss, John Malkovich, Mel Gibson and Michael Keaton.[6][7][8][9][10] John Lithgow was offered the role, but turned it down stating it was "too grotesque".[11][12][13] Brundle's transformation was used as a social commentary for the social paranoia surrounding the outbreak of HIV and AIDS.[14][15][16][17] Goldblum was against the original ending of the film where Veronica and Stathis end up back together. Goldblum believed that the ending would undermine the tragedy of the story. Even though some filmmakers insisted on keeping the ending, it was changed to the more tragic and abrupt ending in the movie. [18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

Analysis[edit | edit source]

Ever since the original film's release, Brundle has been seen as a metaphor for the AIDS epidemic. Director David Cronenberg has said that he did not intend for Brundle to be a metaphor for AIDS in particular, but for disease in general. Brundle's degeneration was seen as an accurate representation of the effects AIDS has on the human body's immune system. The film was released in the middle of the AIDS outbreak in the United States, and the paranoia surrounding the disease and its effects, primarily on the gay community. Brundle is also shown engaging in several sexual escapades before his physical degeneration begins to manifest itself, shown having sexual intercourse with Tawny before his teeth begin falling out and his fingernails begin cracking off.[25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34]

Legacy[edit | edit source]

Seth Brundle has become an iconic part of popular culture, referenced in many television shows and songs, as well as being recognised as one of Jeff Goldblum's best and most notable roles. Goldblum has cited Brundle as one of his favourites of the characters he has portrayed, and despite the character's apparent death at the end of the first movie, Goldblum has expressed interest in returning to the role. The character has also been heavily referenced in the animated television show Rick and Morty through human mutates called "Cronenbergs".[35][36][37][38][39][40][41] Brundlefly is briefly referenced in the video game Tomb Raider III. Lara Croft, the protagonist of the game, tries to convince Doctor Willard to cease his experiments, as one of his men became a deadly mutant, with Lara mentioning the mutant's appearance to Brundlefly.[42][43]

Goldblum was nominated for several awards for his role as Brundle, including winning the Saturn Award for Best Actor in 1986.[44]

Award Subject Nominee Result
Saturn Award Best Actor Jeff Goldblum Won
National Society of Film Critics Best Actor Jeff Goldblum Nominated
New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor Jeff Goldblum Nominated

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • Seth Brundle, who suffered from motion sickness, was ironically named after race car champion Martin Brundle (which was also used as the name of his son in The Fly II).[45]
  • Brundle's diseased metamorphosis was broken up into six stages by Chris Walas, Inc.'s makeup and creature effects crew (seven, if one includes the Brundlefly/Telepod fusion seen at the end of The Fly), ranging from facial discoloration to full-body rubber suits to highly-articulated puppets.[46][47][48]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "The Best Horror Movie of 1986: The Fly" (in en). 2019-09-28. Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  2. Gervais, Jay (2019-06-26). "Howard Shore's Score for The Fly Re-Released on Vinyl" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  3. The Fly, Brooksfilms/20th Century Fox
  4. "Be Very Afraid: David Cronenberg's The Fly" (in en). 2019-07-22. Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  5. The Fly II, Brooksfilms/20th Century Fox
  6. "20 Actors Who Almost Starred In Your Favorite Horror Movies: 4. Michael Keaton - Seth Brundle (The Fly)" (in en). Retrieved 2019-12-29. 
  7. "10 Famous Roles Almost Played By MICHAEL KEATON" (in en). 2015-09-07. Retrieved 2019-12-29. 
  8. "10 Things You Didn't Know About The Fly" (in en). 2011-08-15. Retrieved 2019-12-29. 
  11. Jagernauth, Kevin (2014-05-05). "John Lithgow Says He Turned Down David Cronenberg’s ‘The Fly’ Because It Was “Icky” And “Grotesque”" (in en). Retrieved 2019-12-29. 
  12. Jackson, Matthew (2014-05-05). "John Lithgow Reveals He Could've Been The Fly, But It Was Too 'Icky'" (in en). Retrieved 2019-12-29. 
  13. O'Connell, Sean (2014-06-02). "Which Actor Almost Landed The Fly Ahead Of Jeff Goldblum?" (in en). Retrieved 2019-12-29. 
  14. Jensen, K. Thor (2017-06-05). "How The AIDS Crisis Influenced Science Fiction" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  15. Darer, Michael (2016-08-07). "I Sing The Body Insectile: David Cronenberg's The Fly At Thirty" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  16. "Throwback Thursday: The Fly as Metaphor for Lots of Things" (in en). 2016-12-01. Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  17. "Subtly Problematic Script Structure: The Fly" (in en). 2014-10-18. Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  18. Metz, Nina (2017-10-20). "Breaking down the science behind 1986's 'The Fly'" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  19. Riches, Simon (2012-04-20). The Philosophy of David Cronenberg. ISBN 978-0813136042. 
  20. Wilson, Scott (2011-08-18). The Politics of Insects: David Cronenberg's Cinema of Confrontation. ISBN 9781441116888. 
  21. Burnett, Betty (2006-08-15). Introducing Mad Scientists. ISBN 9781404208278. 
  22. Ochoa, George (2017-02-10). Deformed and Destructive Beings: The Purpose of Horror Films. ISBN 9780786486540. 
  23. Beard, William (January 2001). The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg. University of Toronto Press. p. 198. ISBN 9780802035691. 
  24. Cruz, Ronald Allan Lopez (2012). "Mutations and Metamorphoses: Body Horror is Biological Horror". Journal of Popular Film and Television 40 (4): 160–168. doi:10.1080/01956051.2012.654521. 
  25. "FILM FREAK CENTRAL takes a look at David Cronenberg's body of work—with a little help from the master himself". Film Freak Central. Archived from the original on 2003-04-01. Retrieved 2019-10-29. 
  26. Cronenberg on Cronenberg, Chris Rodley, Faber & Faber, 1997
  27. Jeffrey T. Iverson (2008-09-04). "David Cronenberg Tries Opera". Time.,8599,1838909,00.html. 
  28. Mathijs, Ernest (2003). "AIDS References in the Critical Reception of David Cronenberg: "It May Not be Such a Bad Disease after All"". Cinema Journal 42 (4): 29–45. doi:10.1353/cj.2003.0019. JSTOR 1566526. 
  29. Kirk, Jeremy (2011-09-15). "33 Things We Learned From David Cronenberg's 'The Fly' Commentary" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-29. 
  30. Valero, Gerardo (2014-01-13). "Far Flung Correspondents - DAVID CRONENBERG'S "THE FLY"" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-29. 
  31. Kupferman, Steve (2014-01-20). "For David Cronenberg, turning 70 is like waking up as the Brundlefly" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-29. 
  32. Le, Paul (2019-10-21). "10 Horror Movies With Terrifying Social Commentary" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-29. 
  33. Newby, Richard (2017-10-11). "POETRY OF THE STEAK: REINTERPRETING THE FLY 30 YEARS LATER" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-29. 
  34. Jensen, K. Thor (2017-06-05). "How The AIDS Crisis Influenced Science Fiction" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  35. "Jeff Goldblum Has Ideas For Another The Fly Movie" (in en). 2018-06-14. Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  36. "Jeff Goldblum is Game for a Sequel to David Cronenberg's The Fly" (in en). 2018-06-13. Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  37. Cavanaugh, Patrick (2018-06-21). "Jeff Goldblum Would Happily Appear in a Sequel to 'The Fly'" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  38. Topel, Fred (2018-06-12). "Jeff Goldblum Tells Us He Would Totally Do Another 'Fly' Movie" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  39. Millican, Josh (2019-03-01). "Will Disney Swat THE FLY or Keep It Buzzing?" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  40. "Rick & Morty: The Squirrel Universe & Secret Plan Explained" (in en). 2019-06-14. Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  41. Plante, Corey (2019-10-16). ""Rick Potion #9" proves 'Rick and Morty' has the scariest multiverse ever" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  42. "Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft (Video Game 1998)" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  43. Kaye, Don (2016-08-15). "The Fly Is Still David Croenenberg's Masterpiece" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  44. 14th Saturn Awards at IMDb.
  45. The Fly Papers, Tim Lucas, Cinefex Magazine, 1986
  46. Navarro, Meagan (2019-02-15). "[It Came From the '80s Oscar Winning Makeup and Creature Effects Transformed 'The Fly'"] (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  47. Navarro, Meagan (2018-12-06). "Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid: An Intro to Body Horror!" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
  48. Gaudette, Emily (2016-08-15). "Meet the Man Who Blew up Jeff Goldblum's Head in 'The Fly'" (in en). Retrieved 2019-10-17. 
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