A depressed man (Edward Norton) suffering from insomnia meets a strange soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and soon finds himself living in his squalid house after his perfect apartment is destroyed. The two bored men form an underground club with strict rules and fight other men who are fed up with their mundane lives. Their perfect partnership frays when Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), a fellow support group crasher, attracts Tyler’s attention.
‘The first rule of Fight Club is, You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is, You do not talk about Fight Club.’ Adpated from Chuck Palahniuk novel; probably one of the most notable films that demonstrates the downfall of freedom and rule of consumerism in our society – Fight Club demonstrates how we our ruled by corporations and as the Narrator says, ruled by our furniture. I had the pleasure of studying Fight Club in both my English Literature and Film Studies classes back in sixth form and it opened my eyes to the world around us and how controlled we really are…well sort of. The film carries a very heavy message, in fact multiple messages that we can apply to real life and through studies I came to fully understand the film and what it really meant.
Casting is key in Fight Club with characters such as Bob – a large male with notable breasts and a weak personality being played by Meatloaf the rocker who would we normally associate a strong and powerful demeanor and we would definitely not be focusing on his breast! Another character Angel Face is also played by a rocker, Jared Leto, the frontman to 30 Seconds to Mars. Angel Face is seen as this perfect, beautiful male which angers the Narrator as he’s trying to regain the men’s masculinity and Angel Face only hinders this because of his ‘beauty’. Enraged by this the Narrator beats Angel Face in Fight Club, going against his own rule of if they go limp you stop. Edward Norton plays an average dead behind the eyes lonely white-collar worker who goes by The Narrator, who soon finds his life turned around by the arrival of Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt – he’s everything that the Narrator is not. He introduces him to the idea of Fight Club, a place were men can release their inner desire within a society that is facing a crisis of masculinity. The use of a Fight Club for regaining masculinity is such a stark contrast to what is making them lose it, the Narrator partakes in support groups even though nothing is wrong with him – it’s the only thing that gives him a ’emotional high’ through his insomnia and depressed. Things quickly start to spiral out of control when Tyler turns the Fight Club into anarchist terror group who’s greatest ambition is to bring down selfish corporations and the consumerist lifestyle. Things take an even worse turn for the Narrator when he discovers that Tyler is his split personality – created through his insomnia induced insanity.
David Fincher is a visionary and this is quite clear from his directing style in Fight Club. He shoves so much into the film that it’s hard not appreciate that he’s making more than a movie, but a love note (Or hate note) to society. However, the film is based on Palahniuk book so he’s taking idea from the author but he interprets them in his own idea and does right by a revolutionary novel. One of my favourite things about the film is how he slices Tyler into the film before he’s even introduced. As the narrator is making his way through the airport on the passing side of the escalator we see Tyler go past, when watching it the first time I’d say it’s very unexpected as you aren’t exactly looking out for him but the second time around I find myself asking how I didn’t notice it! It’s hard not to see Tyler though with his flamboyant outfit and even his attitude is alluring compared to the dull scene going on around him. Tyler is also spiced into another shot where he appears for a split second behind the Narrator like he’s trying to break through or maybe just a hint of things to come. Fincher also uses Fantasy cutaway, showing us what the Narrator would rather be doing. These are more frequent at the start of the film when the Narrator is going through his mundane day’s pre Tyler so it’s important to note that these gradually die down when Tyler is around as he is actually living out his repressed thoughts in a way.
At the end of the film we see Marla, someone who the Narrator had been at odds with through most of the film because of her ‘relationship’ with Tyler, and the Narrator standing hand in hand watching the collapse of capitalism to the sound of ‘The Pixies – Where is my Mind’ – a somewhat satisfying scene. The Narrator has just shot himself in the face in an attempt to get rid of Tyler however can Tyler ever really leave? Durden is a more an idea, not a person – he’s already spread his message and revolution among the men and now they all have a bit of Tyler in them meaning he can never truly be gone. It remains to be seen if he ever returns to the Narrator; Tyler’s job has been carried out nevertheless as we see debt brought back to zero. It would be interesting to see if the Narrator would miss Tyler or would he be thankful as after all he’s brought the narrator out of his boring slump and created him anew.
Fight Club challenges the norm and the conventional, completely turning the millennium on its head. This film could easily be perceived as one of the most important films released in 1999 as at a time when identity was in crisis, this film could be used as a release for the audience. I thoroughly enjoy Fight Club and it will forever be one of my favourite films as it is at its core so much more than just a quick flick, it’s a lesson that we could all do we learning – not to let our lives by ruled by consumerism or something meaningless yet it does serve as a reminder that we also need rules to keep anarchy from arising.