What is the message of Fight Club?

Back in 2011 when I first saw the movie I was oblivious to cinema and the art of it, hence I was awestruck just by the plot twist. And ever since then, I have been obsessing over Fight Club. But the plot twist alone does no justice to this beauty of a movie. There was so much more for me to discover, cherish, to be in awe of, which I did explore in between my countless rewatches. Here I pore my soul and thoughts on Fight Club and break the first two rules. 

~The Story of Fight Club ✍🏼📑

The trajectory of story revolves around the narrator and his only friends Tyler Durden and Marla Singer. Fight Club can be one of the most memorable and impactful stories. The cautious yet casual conversations between the narrator and Tyler Durden will never leave even a single strand of doubt about the reality of the situation.

It is a carefully stitched-together narrative where every dialogue, every frame, and every action carries a meaning, a backstory that is linked to what is to happen as the story progresses.

Several conversations between Tyler and the narrator, nudge us toward reality all the while keeping it hidden. Conversations and links between them become more apparent once the veil is lifted and the magic is revealed.

Our narrator points out how thought of his first fight with Tyler when he is fighting with himself at his boss’s office. He talks about how Tyler sleeps only for an hour a night, and how he felt that was living in a perpetual state of deja vu while trying to find Tyler towards the end of the movie.

Fight Club
Edward Norton as Narrator

The storyline is plain but brilliantly plotted, leaving the viewers with no questions. The story holds a clear philosophical conflict between the narrator and his friends. While our narrator feels out of sync with his fake, shallow, and completely meaningless world, Tyler Durden and Marla Singer take action to destroy themselves and the same world by creating chaos. To such an extent that Marla crosses busy streets with no care and Tyler adulterates the food and promotes the same at the restaurant, he works at. 

Tyler Durden and Marla Singer

Tyler and Marla try to break down the world created by the modern capitalist system. Tyler chooses violence, disorder, and disruption to free people from the prison of a society they have built for themselves. “No fear. No distraction. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide”. The idea also revisits the narrator’s thought during his guided meditation “I let go. Lost in oblivion. Losing all hope was freedom.”

While Marla simply chooses to not care about anyone but herself, she tries to take her life but also worries about a lump on her breast, she steals clothes from laundromats and food from the dead. She recalls how she used to be a charming, lovely girl, but has now lost faith in herself. The entire story is poetic but what adds more to it, is the fact that before meeting Tyler and Marla, the narrator too was a slave to capitalism without even realizing it. As Tyler says “The things you own end up owning you.” He felt like just any other pawn in a game of chess. “Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy.”

~The philosophy of Fight Club 🍃

A world with no purpose, where life is just passing by and is full of shallow “single-serving” events. A life that is ending one minute at a time.

Chuck Palahniuk has ingeniously introduced an aggressive nihilistic world, where his character Tyler believes that one can attain freedom only when they hit rock bottom. “Only after we have lost everything that we are free to do anything.” Thus Tyler and the narrator invent Fight Club, where fighting helps them feel, for lack of a better word, free and alive (because for Tyler it’s an entire act of letting go), helping them break out from the clean systemized world.

Tyler’s philosophy is that we have created a world that is too safe and too meaningless. “We are byproducts of a lifestyle obsession”. And that no one’s a “unique snowflake” but just a cog in a machine, and our narrator is an all-singing all-dancing proof of that cog until he meets Tyler Durden. 

The story raises ideas that legitimately must be thought about because they resonate with the audience. “When people think you are dying they really really listen to you, instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.” Dialogues such as this make the viewers question the artificial world they have built. The story challenges the beliefs and takes the audience gradually further into a nihilistic journey along with the narrator. 

~The book or The movie 📖🎞

I’ve always argued why reading the book is ALWAYS ALWAYS better than watching a movie adapted from the book. And Fight Club has been a major learning curve for me.

Earlier my argument was, reading a book is like getting your hands on the screenplay of a director’s cut. Even though I respect and appreciate both art forms, I used to side with books, here’s how Fight Club the movie made me realize my ignorance.

While the book Fight Club has way more details and feels more authentic and clears up the only loophole I came across in the movie, I wouldn’t recommend against watching the movie. The direction is the predominant reason. The cinematography, the sound, and the acting are indeed remarkable, but I’ll be talking only about direction here. David Fincher with his essence of style and direction has turned fight club into visual poetry.

David Fincher

Fincher not only has successfully visually presented the numb, hopeless, purposeless world created by Palahniuk but has also defined the psychology behind it, leaving the audience with a brooding sense of meaninglessness. Fincher rightly said, “Cinema is an inherently risky and imperfect and emotional medium.”

He didn’t create a set but an environment, where the viewers and the actors feel at home. He has turned Fight Club into an emotion where every stranger feels the same thing at the same time. Fincher believes, the idea of pink, healthy, happy people is fraudulent and needs to be destroyed.

But he didn’t stop at the color palette, he played with the movie as if mocking the audience. Splicing Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) several times for 1/24th of a second in scenes way before the character Tyler is even introduced to our narrator, just as Tyler says “a moment was most you could expect from perfection”. His appearances are blink-and-miss before his proper introduction. Tyler even appears in advertisements as the narrator browses different channels.

But like every book turned into a movie, Fight Club too misses out on and alters parts of the story, which do fit in some way or the other. The primary motivators behind this are runtime restraints and limitations.

The ending is different and the book talks more in detail about how “we’re the middle children of history…..and we are slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.” There’s more of Tyler Durden and more of Marla Singer and more of our oblivious, evasive narrator. It’s hard for me to pick one and I never will, both the book and the movie are cult classics on their own.

Where is my mind?

If you have come so far and completed the article, you are requested to listen to Where is my mind by Pixies and hopefully get absorbed in oblivion.

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