Worth A Look: 15.13%
Pretty Bad: 3.16%
Total Crap: 9.87%
26 reviews, 604 user ratings
|Fight Club (1999)
by Bob, Lord of Evil
I wrote this analysis for my TV & FILM ANALYSIS class. It needs work. But draft one is going up here. There are heavy spoilers, but thats what an analysis is, jackass. So, don't read it if you don't know. Enjoy.A lot of people watch a lot of movies for a lot of different reasons. Some watch them for a momentary escape, a cheap roller coaster ride then you’re off. Others watch film with this sort of desperate need to relate to the characters, and they go to cry, to laugh, to have a true emotional roller coaster. I’ve done both of these ways of watching. But last night… I watched FIGHT CLUB. Scene by scene. Occasionally, frame by frame. I saw how every single shot of FIGHT CLUB is a picture, and more importantly, I began to analyze and critique what I feel is the best movie of all time, and is by far my favorite.
The fact of the matter is, you have to watch FIGHT CLUB more than once to fully appreciate it. If you don’t know that Edward Norton and Brad Pitt are the same person, you’re not going to understand what is going on. So, Jack will represent Edward Norton in this paper, so as not to confuse him with Brad Pitt, who played Tyler Durden. Just understand the two are one in the same.
So the movie starts off with a lie. Edward Norton, lit in very dark surroundings, appears to be kidnapped by Brad Pitt, and being held captive. This is a lie. The movie opens to a man sitting alone in a room with a gun in his hand, struggling with his inner demons and his inability to truly account for the dynamite that is laid out over the city. More on this later.
Edward Norton presents his character as a man who has no real friends. David Fincher, director of FIGHT CLUB, helps this along, by providing no one, really, for him to talk to in life. We get to see the inside of Norton’s world, everything bright and shiny looking. A man of respectable wardrobe is how he thinks of himself. For some reason though, he can’t sleep. The question is- why can’t he sleep?
Throughout the movie, Jack’s character seems to be looking for love. He falls in love with Tyler, (therefore, he begins to understand the concept of self-love), he falls in love with Bob, and he falls in love with Marla Singer in a big way. When the doctor suggests he go to a support group for testicular cancer, Bob (played by Meatloaf) embraces Jack’s character. He lets himself share with a guy who he’s never met. This big ridiculous clown of a man was so willing to share himself, and then willing to take in what Jack was feeling, well, one could see how that’s pretty close to feeling loved. This gives him what he needs to go to bed.
So, when Marla Singer enters the picture, why does she throw Jack so off course? By showing up to his support groups, he may view her as a threat to his mental addiction, but that seems a bit off course of the rest of the film. Most likely, he had already developed feelings for her. She was like him. She was attracted to the ‘dead’ people of support groups. Perhaps hers was a more fatalistic reason though?
Jack seemed to use support groups for love, and affectionate reasons. Marla seems to see these support groups as a front row seat to a dead parade. She herself wants to hit bottom. Her suicide attempts in this movie should more than illustrate that she has a fatalistic way of seeing things, and perhaps that’s why she brings out the dark side of Tyler Durden (most likely again).
Tyler knows he wants Marla Singer. And so, Tyler comes back into Jack’s life.
Just to get this out of the way, watching the Tyler/Jack scenes are perhaps the most taxing in terms of educating yourself about the movie. The trick is to sit there and realize which body is Edward Norton in right now. Is he in Tyler mode, sitting smug and self assured, in control of his own cypher? Or is he in Jack mode, slumped, looking lovingly at the man he wants to be.
And who is Tyler anyway? Well, he appears to be a sadist and a masochist. He enjoys torturing people, especially the rich ones. By slicing single cell frames of pornography into children’s movies, he gets off on the idea that little children see a huge cock, but can’t remember it or won’t acknowledge it. Perhaps he does this knowingly, aware that Jack has to know that he is Tyler Durden. They are the same person, after all.
Yet so far, we’ve seen his sadistic side. There is a definite masochist in Tyler too. He forces himself to hit himself in the face. RE: line “ I want you to hit me as hard as you can.” This line really means “ I want to hit myself as hard as I can.” “ I want to feel pain.” “ I want to understand pain.” “ I want to hit bottom.”
So during this time, Jack blows up his apartment. His perfect world. When he moves in with Tyler (allowing himself to be closer to what he really wants), he hates the shitty house he is forced to live in. But after special care and working himself up, Tyler basically gets Jack to accept and embrace the nihilistic side of things. He also gets Jack to love himself by loving Tyler.
This may seem to be a contradiction. If Jack really loved himself, why does he beat himself up? Because he doesn’t know how far he could go, perhaps? Because he wants to test his limits? He doesn’t just punch himself a few times- he fucks himself up in a big way. And this is what attracts other men to fighting.
They are not that intelligent. They are not that noble. They are that stupid. They’re the space monkey’s, and they are the men who make Fight Club what it becomes. Tyler had been planning this, for sure. But how could he have known it would work so well? These men do not see the self-abuse and seeing your own limits. The space monkey’s come into fight club wanting to kick some ass. And it is with that rationale that Tyler can truly mold them into what he wants them to be.
So, Jack is living with Tyler, but not really, you know, Fight Club has begun, and where is his mind at this moment? Well, Jack seems to be slipping away. He’s letting Tyler take control of the whole of him more and more. He’s getting angrier, scarier, and much more dangerous. He begins to actively have hallucinations, and hear things. And then…
Marla Singer has called. She took a whole bottle of Xanex. Jack doesn’t want to care. Tyler Durden knows he does. So Jack lets his split personality get the girl. When the next day arrives, Jack treats her like shit, unwilling to accept the fact that he really wants her in the worst way. She tries to reach out to him, but Jack is so sealed off from everyone else that he just doesn’t think he can handle honest human emotion.
Finally, Jack decides to just do it, and scars himself. Horribly. Permanently. He does it using Tyler as a launch point, creating in his mind the scenario when it is not himself putting lye on his hand, but a demi-God, and a charismatic one at that.
After this happens, things start taking a turn for the more violent. Tyler lets himself get beat up before Fight Club, by Lou, the man who owns the bar they hold their fights in. But, rather than accept defeat in pain, he hurts Lou with an even more powerful weapon- fear. He bleeds into Lou’s mouth, and if you think about it, that is perhaps the scariest thing that could happen to you in today’s STD society.
This begins propelling Jack further along the path of self destruction and destruction in general. He beats himself up in front of his boss, letting his boss ‘win’. He gets a sharper tongue with Marla. He punches Bob really hard in the face.
Interesting side note; Jack does not normally win fights. In the film, we see him fight to the end in three real fights. He loses two of those. On the other hand, Tyler Durden never, ever loses a fight. This is who he wants to be more and more.
When Fight Club becomes Project Mayhem, Jack feels awful. Not because what is occurring is awful, but because he wasn’t in on it from the ground floor like he was with Fight Club. He tries to reason with Tyler (after severely beating a man during Fight Club, and getting away with it too, as he is their dictator and they will follow him no matter what). Instead, Tyler reasons with him. “ This isn’t about you.”
Yet it is, it’s all about him, it’s about Jack’s personal discovery and Jack’s willingness to truly discover himself. While driving the car, Tyler lets the wheel of the car go, and they crash into a horrible accident. One step closer to enlightenment.
He punches himself. He scars himself. He throws himself across the room. He crashes a car. This event lets Tyler run free. Tyler sets into motion the final stages of Project Mayhem, going across the country setting up a series of events that could wipe out the debt record. He wants to make everyone equal again. When Jack wakes up, Tyler has finished what he needs to do.
Jack is cranky and miserable without Tyler. He is rude to Marla, and is treated oddly in his own home. He feels abandoned and unloved. When Marla comes over, Jack tells her Tyler is not here, and Tyler is gone. You almost get the idea she knows what he means.
Bob gets shot in the head on a Project Mayhem mission. Why? Because Bob is the clown. He is supposed to be the innocent who ‘just got caught up in it’, and now he’s dead. This scene tells you a lot about how Jack is dealing with things at this point. He has become horribly afraid of death, and more importantly, un-accepting of the things that he has done that has created this situation.
He looks for Tyler.
Of course, he finds out they are one in the same while on this journey. This was not part of Tyler’s plan. It scares Tyler. He begins to work against himself, setting up precautionary measures to make sure he cannot defeat himself.
And the one reason Jack decides to try and stop Tyler, is not because he feels bad about what he’s done (but he claims to), but because he loves Marla Singer very much. And he will not allow himself to hurt her.
Suffice to say, Jack’s attempts at stopping Tyler from bombing many national credit card companies, fail. He cannot take back what he has done. He must fully accept that he is responsible for the Fight Club, Project Mayhem, Tyler, and his life. It is with this understanding that allows Jack to realize that Tyler was never really in control. So Jack puts a gun in his mouth and fires.
By letting himself believe he was gonna die, he let Tyler die. But Tyler will live on, in Jack. Because he knows what he wants now. He isn’t going to go after commercial success or having a nice apartment. He wants his life to be his own, and he wants Marla Singer.
And so he gets her. And they stand and watch as buildings’ crumble around them, and they stand tall.I hope my attempts at understand Fight Club have helped you’re viewing pleasure. Watch out for the cock.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1552&reviewer=150
originally posted: 12/13/01 08:11:15