“How much do you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”

Plot:

(Warning! Spoilers) Edward Norton plays the role of an insomniac who suffers from boredom and loneliness. When asking his doctor for subscribed medication to help him sleep, the doctor rejects the request and tells him to go see the support group for men with testicular cancer in order to get a new perspective on pain and suffering.

The protagonist decides to give it a go and attends a meeting with the support group. Being surrounded by the unfortunate men causes the protagonist to break down, making him able to sleep again. In order to maintain the re-found joy of sleep he signs up on more support meetings, fakes all kinds of diseases and sleeps like a baby again.
That is, until Marla Singer showed up. Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) is a faker just like our protagonist, and he doesn’t like the sudden competition which suddenly makes him unable to sleep again.

Shortly after, the protagonist meets a young soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Bitt) while on a business trip. After a brief conversation and exchange of business cards, the protagonist comes home to find his apartment on fire due to a gas leak. With nowhere to sleep the protagonist calls Tyler and they meet at a bar. After a few drinks Tyler offers the protagonist to crash at his place on one condition: that he punches Tyler in the face. After some doubts and a smack to Tyler’s ear they get into a fist fight and shortly after the protagonist finds himself at Tyler’s ramshackle house, and they quickly become very close friends. After a second fight outside the bar they attract a crowd, and thus “Fight Club” is born.

One day, Marla overdoses on Xanax and is rescued by Tyler, and the two embark a sexual relation which frustrates the protagonist. Nevertheless, the protagonist promises Tyler to never speak about him with Marla.

Fight Club recruits more and more members, and eventually becomes a new project called “Project Mayhem”, where Tyler Durden figures as a leader and a mentor over the recruits. Through clever psychological manipulation, Tyler creates his own personal anti-capitalism army, and sends them out on missions of vandalism against corporations and stores in an act of rebellion against the dollar and the commercialism of life itself. The protagonist does not approve and the two have a serious argument with Tyler disappearing as result. After one of the members of Project Mayhem dies under a mission, the protagonist tries to shut down the project. Tracing Tyler around the whole country, the protagonist finds out that there are Fight Clubs in every major city of the US. While asking around for Tyler at the different Fight Clubs he is also pointed out as Tyler by one of the members. After a confirmation call with Marla, the protagonist finds that he is Tyler, meaning that Tyler Durden in fact is the alter ego of the protagonist’s own split personality. Tyler explains that he controls the protagonist’s body whenever he is asleep, explaining why the protagonist often experienced waking up at places without knowing how he got there.

The protagonist faints, and after waking up and checking out from the hotel in which he encountered Tyler, he finds out that Tyler made phone calls from the hotel while the protagonist slept. He traces down the phone numbers and finds out that they all belong to major credit card companies which Tyler intends to destroy in order to reset the finance and to create complete financial mayhem. After going to the police only to find that some of them are members of Project Mayhem, the protagonist tries to disarm the bombs set in one of the buildings. There he encounters Tyler and is knocked unconscious only to awake at the upper floor of another building with a window view facing the impending destruction. At gun point, the protagonist realizes that it is in fact he who is holding the gun and not Tyler. Upon realization, he suddenly finds the gun in his hand, whereas he fires the gun into his mouth and through the cheek. Tyler (or the illusion, at least) collapses to the floor with an exit wound at the back of his head, just before a few members arrives with a kidnapped Marla. The protagonist asks the members to leave him and Marla, and then they hold hands and watches a whole financial block get turned into a parking space.

End credits.

My reflections about the movie:

W O W .

I don’t know where to begin, actually. This movie was (in my opinion) a milestone in terms of storytelling and character development. Brad Pitt and Edward Norton are both well-respected and highly skilled actors, and in this movie they both prove that they not only make an excellent screen couple but also that they are very versatile actors. As for Helena Bonham Carter I can only say that I am very impressed by both her role and her acting, although I’m not sure I’ve seen her in many other movies.

The looks and sounds of this movie is phenomenal. The soundtrack, the narration by Edward Norton, the angles and the scenery, it’s all well done and it never gets boring in any way for any of your senses.Well, at least if you’re eating something smelly while touching yourself.

The symbolism behind this movie is pretty unclear to many. “Why does he suddenly turn all schizo”, “why do they have to fight” and “why is his alter ego the total opposite” and such are returning questions worth thinking about, and I’ll go through a few of my thoughts here.

The narrator/protagonist (Edward Norton) is the everyday consumer/worker. He goes to work, comes home, buys something that 13,4 million other already has and can only find peace in going to support groups despite not suffering from any disease at all. He wants to live, but he doesn’t know why. He kinda reminds me of the “chose life” quote from the beginning of Trainspotting. (Minus the heroin, of course)

The men who become members of Fight Club are victims of the de-humanizing and de-sanitizing power of contemporary society, inhabiting an essence of identity marketed by consumer culture. The only way they can regain a sense of individuality is by locating the primeval and “barbaric” instincts of pain and violence. The Narrator can only define himself in terms of male, consumer, insurance worker, insomniac, but he feels that he has lost any sense of self. He is confined by the mechanisms society adopts for categorization – Adrian Gargett (film critic)

Tyler Durden on the other hand, is the total opposite. He has a not-so-craving work, he rejects the consumption lifestyle and he knows what he wants to do with “his” life. He is strictly anti-materialistic, anti-capitalistic, anti-consumption, and he thinks that your life, my life, everyone’s life are too much about buying things we don’t need to impress people who doesn’t care, and too little about doing what we should: following dreams and ideals.

Marla Singer represents everything that the protagonist is: boring, empty and in need of something to help her get by. I think that this explains why the protagonist also has a hard time sleeping again after seeing Marla doing the same thing as him. She reminds him too much of himself.

The underlying theme is that you have to break yourself apart to build something new. It is only when you realize that you’re not your lousy hair, or your bad debts, or your fears that you’re not good enough, that you can actually create a new life for yourself – Ross Grayson Bell (producer)

The narrator’s “sudden” case of schizophrenia would/could be the result of insomnia combined with him being sick and tired of his life. He might want a change but he’s not one to actually make it happen himself, and that’s why he sub-consciously creates Tyler Durden, a man being and representing everything that the protagonist isn’t. That is how he can break free from the otherwise bound and dull personality that he has.

Tyler represents as mentioned before everything that the narrator (meaning: you and me) doesn’t represent. Deep within, most of us are all sick and tired of having commercials filled with fitness, health and beauty products, new cars, new computers, new telephones, new fashions, new speakers for the new television, furniture, credit loans, insurances, fast food, and other things that are completely unnecessary for us to survive on a survival-based plan of existence. That’s why he wants to destroy the credit card company buildings, so that the country can’t spend their money on mindless, unnecessary things and start appreciate life itself instead and start anew as better, stronger, more self-reliant people.

As for the fighting itself, I believe that it represents something other than the violent nature of the human being, and I qoute:

The violence of the fight clubs serves as a metaphor for feeling, rather than to promote or glorify physical combat. The fights are tangible representations of resisting the impulse to be cocooned in society. Fighting between the men strips away the fear of pain and the reliance on material signifiers of their self-worth, leaving them to really experience something valuable.

The idea of the fighting is not about the suggestion that violence directed outward toward other people is a solution to your frustrations. It’s very much a metaphor for self-transforming radicalism, the idea of directing violence inward at your own presumptions. Tyler doesn’t walk out of the bar and say, “Can I hit you,” he says “Will you hit me?” It’s this idea that you need to get shaken out of your own cocoon. The fighting is a metaphor for stripping yourself of received notions and value systems that have been applied to you that aren’t your own. And freeing yourself to discover who you actually areEdward Norton

Well, it’s been a good night’s writing but I’m really tired and it’s 0502 in the morning so I’ll probably just let this one go for now and hope that you enjoy the reading as it is. I apologize for eventual misspellings and stupid articulations, but I blame it on being tired.
Thanks for making it to the bottom, and don’t forget to leave a comment!

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