Silent Whispers

Chasing Illusionary Butterflies!

Fight Club

Posted by Mrityunjay on August 3, 2010

I was itching to write on David Fincher’s ‘Fight Club’ for a week or two. I had first watched this movie 7-8 years ago but my mind couldn’t really fathom the impact of the movie at that time. I watched it again few days back and I was totally bamboozled. This must be one of the most underrated movies of all time. Movie bombed at the box office and failed to win any Oscar. Fight Club had everything going about it; with Fincher of ‘Se7en’ & ’The Game’ fame at the helm, Brad Pitt in a scintillating role and Edward Norton in an ever effective role. This movie was frightening, self-contemplating, black comedy and not to forget an eclectic combination of male insecurity and kind of feminist.

Fight Club is a brutal satire that borders on overt display of aggression and confrontation with the system. The initial few scenes into the movie and you will be reminded of anti-consumerism rant of another masterpiece ‘Trainspotting’. It was definitely a risky venture and as someone said, it bites the hand that feeds it. The USP of the film is its vocal ranting against the status quo. In a way, Fight Club talks about materialistic people and the world that are too immersed in their worldly possessions. The protagonist Norton does a perfect job narration in a dead-pan tone topped by sardonic tirade against our consumer obsessed culture.

The director had deftly handled the multiple personality theme of Tyler (Pitt) and Jack (Norton). Even the character of Marla is so impactful. If Jack on one hand is totally submissive in nature accepting his destiny and a slave to his Ikea possessions then Tyler is everything that Jack ever wanted to be but couldn’t be because of his ‘too corrupted by the system’ existence. Very few movies have explored the concept of split personality with such precision. Both male characters are poles apart in their thought process and actions. If Jack is passively hateful then Tyler actively uses his hatred to express it. If jack is all about psychotic behavior and hoodlumism then Jack is shown as a weak and helpless soul who has nothing to help himself except for clandestine visits to self-help groups.

Fight Club is a psychological piece of brilliance. Every scene, frame demands your attention. For instance, Jack finds Marla too screwed up and can’t really imagine himself as her partner but his Tyler self keeps humping her in an animalistic fashion. In hindsight, it was the character of Marla who made Jack realize his masculinity but he just won’t admit it because his ego can’t accept this fact that someone as outcast, as psychotic as Marla can have a positive influence on him.  That acceptance will be a blow to Jack’s perceived personality of self.

Coming to the concept of Fight Club, for me that was more like a male bonding on gut physical fighting level. My interpretation tells me that male bonding takes a different angle when two adult males respect each other on the basis of their physical strengths and its outbursts. Call it ‘strength bonding’ that not only makes fearless, ideological males come together on a single platform but also weeds out the weak. This notion completely rubbishes the myth of ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’.

Fight Club actually aims at defining the attributes of wimp and the stud. It is more like a stud never buying a diet coke or a wimp never opting for strong black coffee. That’s the idea of large corporations who make a killing in their balance sheet on such forced perceptions on consumers. Nobody actually defined that pink colored mobiles or laptops are only suitable for females. Is there a written rule about it or it is such a strong marketing gimmick that has made we consumers totally slave to manipulative rules of corporate behemoths! That’s what Fight Club forces you to think.


 Now if I think of ‘fighting’ as the cornerstone of the movie and the purpose behind it, I can only draw one conclusion- fighting is a release of anger. It is cathartic tool that you can also use as an intimidating factor. You can reclaim your lost/defeated ego with the help of buckles and knuckles. This is reminiscent of gladiatorial era when fighters used to showcase their murdering skills in colosseum amidst the packed crowd who never had enough of blood and gore. The fight was the prerogative of males and this gender still hasn’t been able to find a better reason to bond with one another. When the world is turning into skeletons of emasculated souls, what better way to provide an outlet to your steadily building rage than a full blown fight?

We ordinary mortals definitely identify ourselves with criminals and gangsters on metaphorical levels. If not, why would you want to watch Godfather and Good Fellas and would secretly pray Corleone Clan to win over the system? We love anti-heroes but in fight club the climax shows the entire farce to be a figment of a psycho’s imagination and that’s where people couldn’t identify with it and perhaps movie bombed because of that. The irony is most of us can’t even claim to have self-awareness or self-knowledge to know what the hell is going on. We just do it automatically but to satisfy the deeper recesses of our original but suppressed self we create different images of self and hide them from each other so that we can take guilty pleasure in having multiple talented personalities. But you know, I know, that is far from the truth. We are just trying to hide ourselves in different ways. It is more like a defense mechanism employed against our inherent weakness which makes us ramble, rant, complain, and whine!

I guess, I can go on and on about the movie and its impact and thousands of interpretations but let’s stop at it for a while. Finally, a word for two actors- Norton is as terrific and understated as he has always been. You got to owe it to the guy’s supreme talent.  For Brad Pitt, this must be one of his top three performances along with ‘Kalifornia’ and ‘Twelve Monkeys’.

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4 Responses to “Fight Club”

  1. Pankti said

    Though I haven’t seen the film, the review surely makes me want to see it. Very well written, you should think of becoming a film critic…

  2. Munazza said

    I admire your quality of noticing the small nitty gritty details of the plot..When I watched the movie,my whole focus was stuck on the main plot, and the climax had my head spinning around how can the two men be the same people, and I was going back and forth around the evnts trying to find a loop hole lol..and primarily becoz of that race, I missed the director’s main point..about how he brought the two opposite personalities together in one man, and more importantly, what was the point of that..Here your review comes into play..you are a smart man! how intelligently you have explained all the details that a lay movie watcher like me can appreciate the worth of the movie..too bad..they didnt use you as their advertising guy:P

    I wanna say alot..but having a hard time to put it into words..
    but you gotta try professional review writing..you are sooo awsome and unique in it:D

    Keep it up:)

  3. Mayur said

    Gr8 Job dear Keep it up……………….

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