Fight Club: A Cult Classic

Hands down, my favourite movie of all time!

I was left speechless after watching this film, in fact, I was left speechless after watching this film for the 20th time.  To me, it wasn’t about the violence.  It was about the message portrayed.  We are not who we think we are.  We are not special, we are all the same.  I know this sounds a lot like communism, but it’s not.  Fight Club had a very unique and special message and a rather different way of portraying the message.

Fight Club was based on a book written by Chuck Palahniuk and was adapted into the film, of the same name, by director David Fincher.  Fincher is known for his dark and stylish approach to directing movies.  He was the perfect guy for Fight Club.  The film that essentially made Fincher, was Seven – another cult classic.  Other films Fincher directed were:  Alien 3, The Game, Panic Room, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network and most recently, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Like most of Fincher’s films, Fight Club’s conclusion was very unexpected.  I think this is one of Fincher’s main traits when it comes to directing.

The characters in Fight Club were some what strange, which I think was actually a compliment to the film:

The Narrator (Edward Norton)

He is the main character, obviously, yet strangely enough he does not have a name.  He is just known as, “The Narrator”.  Some people argue that his name is “Jack” because he uses this name in certain statements he makes during the course of the film.  Whatever, it doesn’t matter.  All you need to know is that this man has serious issues.

He is an everyday man who lives in his stylish condo and works for a car company that specialises in recalls.  He has everything that is materialistic, but he is lonely and depressed.  He suffers from insomnia and his doctor refuses to prescribe him medication, telling him to get out and do things.

The Narrator does find release.  He starts attending different types of support groups.  He uses fake names because he doesn’t want the other members to find out that he is a fraud.  He starts to sleep again and his life gets back on track, until another fraud starts attending the same meetings.  Basically, The Narrator’s subconscious is in need of a sense of freedom.  He feels trapped within his own body and later, when he meets the infamous Tyler Durden, he sees all of the qualities he lacks in himself.

Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt)

Tyler Durden works night jobs where he sabotages companies and abuses & harms clients.  He also steals human fat from liposuction clinics in order to make soap, which he sells. He says he is “selling people’s own fat asses back to them.”  The fat also happens to be a key ingredient for bomb manufacturing – which plays a big role in the film.

He basically started Fight Club, as he came up with the idea to fight outside a bar.  This was very random, and from this random thought, a revolution started.  First it was Fight Club – fighting in the basement for pleasure.  Then it became Project Mayhem – launching various attacks on consumerism.

Tyler plays a pivotal role in The Narrator’s life.  He influences The Narrator, causing him to become “free”.  He has a no-care attitude, he does as he pleases.  At the same time, he has weird and wonderful theories about life.  Things that even made me, the viewer, think about.  He is by far my favourite character because of his style and charisma.

Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter)

The only female character in the movie.  Truly messed up woman this!  Steals clothes from the laundry, stealing sickly hospital patient’s ready-cooked meals from the delivery van and almost overdosing on medication are just a few issues Marla has.  She’s lonely and lost, until she meets Tyler…

Well, The Narrator meets Marla first, during a support group, where she is also faking her problems, just like he is.  It’s because of the fact she is also a fraud that The Narrator no longer gets the same release as he was getting before.  He stops going to these groups because of her.  He thinks Marla is out of his life, until he comes home one day and notices Marla is with Tyler, in his room…she becomes Tyler’s lover.

Marla is known to be uncaring and self-centred, and sometimes suicidal.  Though, at times, she does show a more softer, caring side – even though it does not last all that long.

Robert “Bob” Paulson (Meat Loaf)

The Narrator initially meets Bob at one of the support groups – at the testicular cancer group.  Bob, being a former bodybuilder, lost his testicles to cancer which was caused by the steroids he took.  He had to undergo testosterone injections which caused his body to increase its estrogen.  Bob then developed “Bitch Tits” and a softer voice.  Surely you can see the humour in this?

Because of Bob’s condition, he was the only member of Fight Club that was allowed to fight wearing a shirt, thank goodness.  He actually becomes a good friend of The Narrator and the death of Bob is hard on The Narrator and he ultimately turns against Tyler because of this.  He dies while carrying out an assignment for Project Mayhem.

Angel Face (Jared Leto)

A random man who joins Fight Club and is a fundamental influence to Project Mayhem.  At times he almost seems overeager, laughing at all the vandalism he and other members are responsible for.

Angel Face was considered to be “beautiful”, hence the name.  For some reason, The Narrator has something against Angel Face and absolutely beats the living daylights out of him in one of the more graphic scenes of the film.  You can see the results in the picture.  He claims that he “felt like destroying something beautiful”.

A short description of the film’s plot:

The Narrator works a stressful job and suffers from insomnia.  His doctor refuses to prescribe him medication and he then starts attending various support groups.  He finds that sharing his own problems with others, even if they have nothing to do with that particular support group, helps tremendously and he is able to sleep again.

This unique treatment works for him, until another fraud, Marla, attends the groups.  As soon as he finds she is also a fraud, he goes back to his old ways and struggles to sleep again.

On a routine flight home from a business trip, The Narrator is seated next to Tyler Durden – a soap salesman.  At first he finds Tyler odd, but they hold a decent conversation on the plane and end up trading numbers.  When he gets home, The Narrator finds his condo burnt to the floor, to his disgust, and he calls Tyler, for reasons unknown.  They meet at a bar.  While having a few pints they find themselves having an in-depth conversation about consumerism.  This effectively leads to Tyler inviting The Narrator back to his place.

This where the film ultimately begins…

Tyler asks The Narrator to “hit” him as he has never been in a fight before.  They carry on with the fist fight and The Narrator subsequently moves into Tyler’s beat-down, pathetic house.  After numerous fights, and a crowd watching regularly, the fighting moves down into the basement of Lou’s Tavern – the local watering hole.  Fight Club is born.

Marla then overdoses on her pills and calls The Narrator for help.  He ignores her by leaving the phone off the hook and letting her babble on.  Enter Tyler, he picks up the phone and ends up going to her apartment to “save” her life.  The two of them become sexually involved.

More fight clubs are started countrywide and under Tyler’s command, they become increasingly more and more anti-corporate and anti-materialistic.  This was when Project Mayhem evolved.  Now it’s not about fighting anymore, it is now about economic equity, freedom…

The Narrator becomes highly upset with the fact that he is left in the dark with regards to the plans of Project Mayhem and wants to be more involved.  Tyler, all of a sudden, disappears.  When Bob, one of the members, is killed by police, The Narrator tries to shut down Project Mayhem.  He traces Tyler’s travels and tracks him down.  In one of the cities, a member of Project Mayhem greets him as Mr. Durden.  Stunned, he calls Marla to ask her what his own name is…she says Tyler.

Out of nowhere, Tyler appears in his hotel room.  Tyler explains to him that they are dissociated personalities and that Tyler controls the body when The Narrator is asleep – this is David Fincher’s trait I was talking about earlier. The Narrator blacks out from shock.

Later, The Narrator unveils Tyler’s plans to erase all debt by blowing up (bombs were manufactured by all the soap that was made by Tyler) multiple buildings that contain all credit card companies’ records.  After discovering that even the police are in on the whole plan, he decides to take matters into his own hands.  He attempts to try disarm the bombs, but Tyler stops him and forces him to a safe building to watch the destruction.

Here, The Narrator is held at gunpoint.  He then realises that in sharing the same body, he himself is actually holding the gun.  He shoots himself in the mouth, shooting through the cheek without killing himself.  Tyler falls to the floor and The Narrator stops mentally projecting him.

After this ordeal, members of Project Mayhem bring a kidnapped Marla Singer to him and then leave them alone.  The bombs then detonate and The Narrator and Marla watch while holding hands.  The film ends by The Narrator saying to Marla, “You met me at a very strange time in my life.”

My conclusion:

This movie was not at all popular with the public and to be honest I am surprised with that.  Yes it was based on a novel, but the storyline was unique and if deep thought was put into it, you will realise that it was not about violence.  Violence was just used to portray the message.  There is one quote from the movie that I feel sums the message up.  It comes from none other than, Tyler Durden…

“You are not your job,
You’re not how much money you have in the bank,
You’re not the car you drive,
You’re not the contents of your wallet,
You’re not your fucking khakis,
You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”

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About haphazardnessryan

I have an equal passion for movies, music and sports. Just a regular guy, wanting to share thoughts on random topics.
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