Saturday, 1 January 2011

Fight Club

Fight Club is a 1999 movie starring Brad Pitt (Se7en), Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulk) and Helena Bonham Carter (Howard's End). It is based on the book of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk and was directed by David Fincher (Se7en, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, The Social Network).

Edward Norton meets Tyler Durden on a plane. Together they make soap and form a Fight Club that we cannot talk about.

How in the hell does one write a brief synopsis of this movie without giving anything away? I try and keep these reviews spoiler free, giving only the barest of plot details in the description as I hate it when every nuance of the story is given away before the film starts, but to do so with Fight Club is impossible. You just cannot summarise all of the themes, story threads and ideas presented in this film without embarking on a long discussion. I will try though.

Fight Club is a film about Anarchy, and it is a wonderfully entertaining one at that. Most of us are happy to just live out our lives, letting everything pass us by, taking everything for granted and not taking much interest in what is going on around us. The characters in the film try to inject some anarchy into everyone's lives so that they can appreciate what they have and try to do something about what they don't have. The most obvious example of this in the film is that of the human sacrifices (not what it sounds like). As scary as it must be to be one of those human sacrifices, their lives are greatly improved as a result. These human sacrifices remind me considerably of the victims in the Saw franchise, although far less horrific. They go through something scary, but their lives are a lot richer as a result.

When this film first came out, it was a big flop. I personally wasn't that interested in seeing it as it looked like a version of those Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, such as AWOL, where he stands around fighting someone for 2 hours. That can be blamed on bad marketing as it's as far removed from those films as it's possible to get. Instead of 2 hours of mindless violence and non-stop fighting, we get get 2 hours of ideas, some of which are extremely funny, some are extremely horrific.

It also opened on the same day as The Sixth Sense which turned out to be one of the most successful movies ever made, so anything opening against that didn't stand a chance. It did share something in common with the Sixth Sense that I can't reveal here without ruining your enjoyment of either movie, but it does force you to re-watch both films again, and as a result, little things that you didn't notice first time suddenly jump out at you and make perfect sense in the context of the final film. However much you liked the film the first time you see it, you will like it even more on second viewing, and each subsequent viewing improves on the last.

It's partly because of this re-watchability that the film managed to find it's audience on DVD and since finding that audience, the film has developed a huge cult following and is one of those rare films that can change the life of the viewer. The importance of this film on society cannot be too greatly understated. The first rule of Fight Club has been parodied so many times in programs in everything from Spaced to Dancing With The Stars. As for the second rule...

The character of Tyler Durden has become legendary, and rightly so, with Brad Pitt bringing him to life so perfectly that it's impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. Edward Norton fully deserves his tag as one of the best actors of his generation after seeing him in this film, and Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer finally breaks off the shackles of all the period dramas from her early career in a part so deliciously juicy and refreshing, it's hard to picture her in a corset ever again.

Fight Club shares something in common with the first Spiderman movie, in that they are the only 2 films that I have seen at the cinema 3 times (I was a student so had a lot of free time, had a cinema pass so didn't need to pay and got talked into going a 3rd time by a girl in both cases, so good excuses). I have also seen it numerous times on DVD and enjoy it more each time I see it.

The reason I wanted to watch it again this time though was because I had just recently finished reading the book. In turning the Fight Club book into a film, the makers did the exact opposite to the makers of I Am Legend. Anyone who has just read the book and not seen the film would have told you it's unfilmable. They would have to change things significantly in order to adapt it to the screen. Anyone who's read the book and seen the film will be surprised at just how faithful it is. Everything from the book has made it to the screen, from the excellent narration, the cancer groups, the soap making, the fight clubs and that ending. The book is deliberately disjointed, broken down into the key scenes without going into what happens between then, but the film fills these gaps and expands on the ideas and themes presented. How this film was not even nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay is beyond me especially in a year where The Cider House Rules won.



  1. Hey Asda, nice review. I'm sure I saw FC with you? And didn't we say we'd never speak of it again?

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  2. I don't think I'd ever agree to never speak of Fight Club ever again. You must be thinking of Twilight.