Film Focus: Fight Club (1999)

“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!”

We live in a world where people are slaves to the material belongings and the need to constantly buy more and more. We know the prices of things, but we are not aware of their actual meaning or value. We no longer appreciate either the little things in life, or the relationships we’ve developed with each other. We are used to taking things for granted and we don’t care if our lives pass into the framework of routines as we simply don’t realize it.

Why do we spend so much time building a material world around us, when all that really matters can’t be bought? Is life complicated, or are we making it that way?

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact.”

This is the story of another office worker (Edward Norton) whose boring life has led him to insomnia. In order to get away from the sleepless nights, he finds himself joining several support groups. By being close to the pain of others, he manages to confide his own feelings and let go of the worries. And as long as the warmth of human compassion serves as a blanket, he can go back to sleeping. Until one day he meets Marla, “the big tourist”. Her “philosophy of life is that she might die at any moment. The tragedy, she said, was that she didn’t.“ A troubled smoker that has lost herself somewhere in this troubled world, she turns out to be essential to the whole story. The big adventure for the narrator, however, begins at a later moment. When he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a somewhat crazy soap maker, not only his whole existence turns to a complete chaos, but he finds a new drive to open his eyes every morning.

Confusing, provoking and a bit scary, Fight Club makes you think about the purpose of life, exploring the broader sense of the human existence. Highly psychological, it exposes the problems of the current unfavourable reality, pointing out the weaknesses of today’s corrupted world. But it also shows that not everything is lost and hope is still to be found. Even those who are no longer motivated to live can find their way back as enlightened human beings and escape this prison of shadows. Surprisingly, Fight Club and the concerns it raises are as current as they were in 1999 when the movie was released, making an impact on viewers for more than a decade now.

Notably, David Fincher, as one of the leading 21 century directors, has contributed to the world of cinema with a good number of movies. After he directed both Se7en and The Game, two very successful movies, the audience couldn’t have been anything less than anticipated for Fight Club. Having captured the mood of the story remarkably accurate, Fincher leaves a huge trace in the history of cinema with this masterpiece film. Furthermore, the screenplay, adapted from the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, also places this production in the list of the top movies based on books.

Being one of the greatest productions ever, Fight Club stands on the 10th position in IMDb’s top 250 movies. Undeniably, the movie wouldn’t have been such a huge success, if it hadn’t been for the talented cast. Giving life to quite colourful characters, the performances of the memorable trio Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter are more than popular in the world of cinema.

Considered to be controversial, Fight Club sends you to a psychological adventure in which you are constantly provoked by turning points and surprises. It brings a visionary fly to your mind that wouldn’t go away until you start working on your own answers to the questions you’re presented. And as a final detail, the murky atmosphere of the soundtrack transports you even further in this confusing at times exploration of reality.

Published in Strathclyde Telegraph, 2013

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