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Eat Bruce! I wish I could make you eat more. You're a terrible man. There was always somebody who could make you eat. I can sense this, just moving around inside you I can feel all your ghosts! You've internalized them Bruce! I can sense one that looms large in your life... Ian Robertson was his name...
~ The Tapeworm ranting and taunting Bruce before gaining knowledge on the man's father.

Bruce's Tapeworm, also known as The Self and Dr. Rossi, is the main antagonist in Irvine Welsh's 1998 novel Filth and the secondary antagonist in its 2013 film adaptation of the same name. It is an intelligent and gluttonous parasitic Cestoda who lives only to feed off of Bruce Robertson's nutrients and psychologically torment him.

It was portrayed by the Academy Award winning actor Jim Broadbent in the film adaptation through the hallucination of Dr. Rossi who also voiced Madame Gasket in Robots.

History

Novel

After ingesting an under-cooked Gala pie Bruce Robertson finds himself infected with the worm. Once settling inside of Bruce's digestive system the worm becomes a very curious and alarmingly intelligent creature and begins exploring the depths of Bruce's mind and communicating with him. Throughout the story the worm continuously demands more food while simultaneously bringing up the constant horrors and agonies of Bruce's past including the death of his brother, his abusive stepfather and his estranged biological father who clearly favorited his brother.

The worm does this fairly often growing ever more knowledgeable and fascinated by its host in the process and eventually learns everything their is to know about him.

Towards the end of the book The Self comforts Bruce by telling him that he is a far better man than he thinks and deserves to gain more happiness in his life, cementing himself as an odd sort of friend to his host by the end.

Following Bruce's death by suicide The Self's fate is uncertain, however it is likely that it died as a parasite such as a tapeworm needs to feed off of a living host to keep on surviving itself

Film

Bruce's Tapeworm's role is greatly reduced in the adaptation with Gorman instead taking the role of main antagonist. In spite of this however it is slightly more evil than its book counterpart.

The worm as itself is mentioned in a deleted scene and later appearing as a gigantic hallucination in front of Bruce, while its overall role from the book is interpreted by that of a hallucination Bruce continues to see of his doctor; Dr. Rossi. Throughout the film the hallucination continuously torments Bruce by haunting him with visions of his past including his younger brother Davie of whom Bruce accidentally caused the death of as well as taunting him about being left by his wife and child. This continues for a while before eventually halting shortly before the film's climax.

As with the novel the ultimate fate of the worm after these events is uncertain, although like the book it is likely that the worm died after Bruce's death.

Personality

The Self was a very intelligent and curious creature moreso than any other in its species and was even capable of reading the mind of its own host. For the majority of the book The Self lacked a moral conscience and was very sadistic and uncaring often belittling and tormenting its host before demanding food.

By the end of the book however the creature had learned compassion and grew to become a genuine friend to Bruce in his final days.

In the film on the other hand the worm was a heavily eccentric, cheery and sadistic creature obsessed with Bruce himself moreso than food and would do nothing more than abuse and annoy the man in his more fragile and deluded states of mind.

Appearance

Although never fully being seen in either the book or film The Self is often depicted as that of an ordinary tapeworm yet incredibly long in size.

While appearing in Bruce's hallucinations in the film the worm looks much like the actual version of Dr. Rossi albeit in a much more exaggerated way than the man appears outside of Bruce's head, taking on the image of a fair skinned elderly man with wiry and messy balding hair donning a white doctor's coat and an eccentric suit.

Trivia

  • The Self is presented as being slightly more evil in the film than it is in the novel; while in the novel the worm genuinely does redeem itself and gain humanity, in the film it remains as a complete sadist.
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