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Fight Club is a David Fincher’s movie, based off Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name. The movie got released in 1999 and is leaded by Edward Norton (the narrator), Brad Pitt (Tyler Durden) and Helena Bonham Carter (Marla).
The story follows an unamened narrator, suffering from insomnia, who crosses paths with Tyler Durden, a charismatic soap salesman living the way our narrator wishes he could live. He soon finds himself living in his squalid house, after his perfect apartment got destroyed. The two men form an underground club, the Fight Club, with strict rules, gathering men who are fed up with their mundane and boring lives. However, their partnership frays when Marla, a fellow support group crasher of our narrator, attracts Tyler’s attention.
The narrator eventually realizes that he is Tyler and needs to get rid off him. Indeed, Tyler’s actions could potentially set off the collapse of society, through his Project Mayhem. The narrator ends up shooting himself in the head, killing Tyler but only hitting himself.
What is really Fight Club about?
At first sight, Fight Club can be considered as another violent movie, denouncing capitalism. But trust me on that one, it’s way much more than this !
What can make Fight Club complicated to understand are mostly the two main characters. The narrator is a pure victim of capitalism, unable to connect with other human beings and therefore fills his life with stuff. On the other hand, Tyler is indepedent, care-free and represents freedom from the modern world.
Two opposite ways of living and thinking brought together on screen, through an underground fight club.
A childish impulse
"This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time"
Through a confident interpretation by Brad Pitt, Tyler Durden appears to be kind of a "child's solution" to the narrator. Instead of admitting his feelings towards Marla, he retreats to a childish impulse: under a banner of so called "rebellion", he litterally gathers a group of impulsive and immature men hitting each other in a fight club, who also enjoy pranking on the world.
"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need"
Tyler tends to be even more real than the narrator himself! He is respected and idolized by men who don't even know him. Actually, Tyler Durden is simply the narrator's vision of masculinity and self-worth, very influenced by mass media and entertainment. The narrator wants to look, to talk, to fuck the way Tyler does, because that's the actual way medias conditioned him to imagine the ideal man.
Furthermore, the way Tyler Durden manages to make the narrator feel insecure, ugly or inadequate refers to the same feelings real world advertizing can provoke.
Anarchy and capitalism
"The things you own end up owning you"
It's important to mention Tyler's languague: he talks and "behaves" like advertising. He promises solutions, answers, directions and uses people's weaknesses for personal gain. With his Project Mayhem, he uses the Fight Club members to promote it, by vandalizing stores, buildings,... Sounds like a marketing campaign, right?
Despite their anarchist and anti-capitalist claims, their organization has to operate under the capitalist system. Indeed, they need money to make this work, the narrator blackmails his boss to leave his work and to retain his salary ("a corporate sponsor"). The members even have to find jobs as well, to earn money. They depend on a system they claim to hate.
For a better world?
"You are not special"
Tyler's followers are following a lifestyle which they are told will improve their lives and provide them a purpose. They're told society treats them as commodities, but in the end they're kind of getting another conformity to respect, which actually makes them loose their own identities.They must shave their heads, wear the same black clothes, the same chemical burn on their hands,... The members become branded, like properties. The leader is the only one who can remain different.
Tyler/the narrator actually enjoys the luxury and the power their status provides them, which shows that he is actually torn between both his materialist and anarchist desires.
And so what?
"It's only after we've lost everything that we are free to do anything"
No matter what's the price you're ready to pay to get answers or purposes, you will always be a human being ready to profit from our weaknesses.
We could spend hours looking for hidden meanings in this movie, or simply to talk more about all the subjects exposed, however the main interpretation remains to you only!
© 2021 Agathe Magrin