Brad Pitt - Fight Club!

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Fight Club - Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden




All films take a certain suspension of disbelief. Fight Club takes perhaps more than others, but if you're willing to let yourself get caught up in the anarchy, this film, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, is a modern-day morality play warning of the decay of society. Edward Norton is the unnamed protagonist, a man going through life on cruise control, feeling nothing. To fill his hours, he begins attending support groups and 12-step meetings. True, he isn't actually afflicted with the problems, but he finds solace in the groups. This is destroyed, however, when he meets Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), also faking her way through groups. Spiraling back into insomnia, Norton finds his life is changed once again, by a chance encounter with Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), whose forthright style and no-nonsense way of taking what he wants appeal to our narrator. Tyler and the protagonist find a new way to feel release: they fight. They fight each other, and then as others are attracted to their ways, they fight the men who come to join their newly formed Fight Club. Marla begins a destructive affair with Tyler, and things fly out of control, as Fight Club grows into a nationwide fascist group that escapes the protagonist's control.

Fight Club, directed by David Fincher (Seven), is not for the faint of heart; the violence is no holds barred. But the film is captivating and beautifully shot, with some thought-provoking ideas. Pitt and Norton are an unbeatable duo, and the film has some surprisingly humorous moments. The film leaves you with a sense of profound discomfort and a desire to see it again, if for no other reason than to just to take it all in.



Movie Review:

The plot revolves around a nameless narrator (Norton; referred to as "Jack" by many of the film's fans), an accident investigator for a major car company. During a severe bout of insomnia he starts attending support group meetings (one of which is a group for testicular cancer survivors). He begins to use the meetings as a vicarious source of emotional release and soon finds that he can sleep again. But when a strange young woman named Marla (Bonham-Carter) starts disrupting his enjoyment of these meetings by showing up to them for fun, the narrator finds that his insomnia returns.

While returning from a business trip, the narrator meets Tyler Durden (Pitt) on a plane. Arriving at his apartment, he finds that it has exploded and has nowhere to go. He eventually finds the business card that Tyler Durden gave him in his pocket, and phones him. They meet at a bar and discuss materialism and the modern male. As they leave the bar, before going to Tyler's home, Tyler asks him to hit him as hard as he can. After trading a few punches, the two begin to brawl in the bar's parking lot. The narrator realizes that he enjoys fighting and, after moving in with Tyler, they start fighting every week. Thus, "fight club" was born.
Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer with the Narrator
Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer with the Narrator

As the club grows, Tyler uses it to spread ideas of anti-materialism. Soon, Tyler is distributing "homework" to the members of the club which grows into "Project Mayhem", an anti-corporate destruction squad led by Tyler. As the project continues to expand, the narrator becomes increasingly disturbed by their actions and tries to stop it as one of the co-founders of fight club. He slowly uncovers their plan and soon discovers the real identity of Tyler Durden; he is a split-personality construct that exists only in the narrator's head and the actions that Tyler undertakes are actions that the narrator himself is really performing; the narrator's perpetual state of insomnia is truly caused by the "Tyler" personality taking over during the night when the narrator thinks he's asleep, then leading a double life until the narrator "wakes up" in the morning.

The film climaxes with the narrator arguing with Tyler over control of his body. The narrator, in a violent act of desperation, shoots himself in the mouth. The audience sees the narrator slump in the chair, and Tyler fall, with a bullet hole in the back of his head. The injury is not fatal, however. Members of Project Mayhem arrive, with Marla forcibly in tow, and the narrator calls for bandages. The film ends with the narrator and Marla startled by a spectacular view of highrise offices exploding - the successful completion of Project Mayhem's most ambitious project, almost forgotten amidst the drama.

Differences between novel and film
Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden with Edward Norton as the Narrator
Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden with Edward Norton as the Narrator

Though the plot is mostly similar to the novel and much of the dialog is used verbatim, some significant changes have been made in the film.

* Many of the lines taken from the novel for the film are given to different characters than they were originally said by. It is likely this was done because the narrator has more lines in the novel than the other characters, though other characters lines are also switched around (for instance, Tyler gives a speech that was originally given by a mechanic in the novel).
* Tyler's involvement in the storyline is often in the foreground of the film, while he is often unseen in the novel, his involvement being mentioned by the narrator in retrospect.
* Tyler Durden is a soap salesman instead of a beach artist as in the novel.
* The narrator meets Tyler on a plane instead of on a nude beach as in the novel.
* The narrator reads stories about "Jack" in the film, who was named "Joe" in the novel. This was changed to avoid conflicts with Reader's Digest over the use of the name (the articles read by the narrator were featured in the magazine).
* Marla's line after having sex with Tyler was "I want to have your abortion" in the novel. The film changed this line to "I haven't been fucked like that since grade school." However, the original line was filmed and can be seen in the DVD's deleted scenes section.
* The first batch of soap made by the narrator and Tyler is made from fat from a liposuction clinic, rather than from liposuctioned fat from Marla's mother as in the book. The Paper Street Soap Company isn't formed until after this first soap making project, which was simply to get some soap to clean the Narrator's clothes.
* The scene where Tyler fights Lou is based on a scene in the novel where Tyler blackmails the Projectionist Union's president. Lou (or any other angry bar owner) didn't appear in the book.
* A flashback scene in the novel in which the narrator urinates on the Blarney Stone does not appear in the film.
* The narrator's fight with himself to blackmail his boss is at the car company in the film; in the novel, it was done to threaten his boss at the hotel where Tyler had gotten him a job as a waiter.
* The narrator is not entirely aware of what Tyler is doing with Project Mayhem and is more uncomfortable with the increasing destructiveness of their activities, rather than being partially in control of it as in the book.
* The confrontation with Raymond K Hessel is handled by the narrator alone in the novel; in the film, Tyler takes control while the narrator witnesses the event.
* Robert Paulson is by himself when he is killed in the novel; he was using an electric drill to drill a hole in an ATM and pump it full of glue, pudding or grease (they never mention which), and a cop spots him and thinks the drill is a gun.
* A scene from the novel in which Tyler murders the narrator's boss does not appear in the film, although the method of his murder is used in the film (drilling out a computer monitor and filling it with gasoline).
* In the film the ultimate objective of Project Mayhem is never revealed, but the narrator tells a police officer that he believes their goal is to blow up all the credit card companies and send the national debt record back to zero. In the novel Project Mayhem was to slow down humanity's technological advancement by artificially causing another Dark Age. This is referred to in the film, however, in the bedroom scene after the car crash. Part of Project Mayhem's goals included erasing history, and the real purpose of blowing up the building in the book was to have it fall on the National Art Gallery next door.
* Project Mayhem's bombs are successful in exploding in the film, while they were duds in the novel.
* The narrator shoots himself to kill Tyler, rather than to make a decision on his own as in the novel.
* Tyler's gun had a home-made silencer in the novel. The gun makes a loud sound in the film, suggesting that it did not have a silencer.
* The film ends with the narrator and Marla watching buildings explode, while the novel ends with the narrator talking about a mental institution to which he has been confined.
* Jim Uhls' original script included a reference to the narrator being in debt.

Reaction and themes

One example of the many mischievious pranks shown in Fight Club; Replacing the safety cards in airline seats with depictions of what really happens
One example of the many mischievious pranks shown in Fight Club; Replacing the safety cards in airline seats with depictions of what really happens

Fight Club was released in the United States on October 15, 1999 to mixed reviews. While some critics raved about the film, many high-profile critics denounced it. Janet Maslin of The New York Times compared it favorably to American Beauty while Roger Ebert called it "macho porn." The graphic violence of the fights seemed to upset most critics, although only one person is actually killed in the film.

The film opened with $11 million, a surprise #1 movie in a close race that weekend at the box office. However, it fell very quickly in subsequent weekends, finishing with only $37 million in the U.S. It was regarded as a failure as the budget was $63 million, not including advertising which could have been another $20-30 million. Even with the $63 million later accumulated overseas, executives at 20th Century Fox still felt the movie was a severe disappointment, so much that Entertainment Chief Bill Mechanic was fired. According to Mechanic, he had personally clashed with Fox owner Rupert Murdoch over Fight Club and it cost him his job, barely a year after Fox's Titanic had become the highest-grossing film ever made.

Fight Club's salvation turned out to be the DVD market which was experiencing rapid growth at the time. The two-disc package featured four audio commentaries and hours of extra material, offering an in-depth analysis of the film. Fight Club would eventually break even and later become profitable thanks to booming DVD sales. Entertainment Weekly, which had originally given the film a negative grade of D, later ranked the DVD #1 on its list of "The Top 50 DVDs You Need To Own."

The film's highly critical view of consumerism and modern living echoes Naomi Klein's book No Logo and also caused discomfort among some critics. Critics like Ebert decried what they described as fascist themes throughout the film, while others have commented on anarchist, nihilist, and buddhist ideals. Both are represented in the transformation of the fight club, an anti-materialistic organization of individuality to Project Mayhem, a more organized anarchy, led solely on the authority of Tyler Durden. The amorphous nature in which these seemingly opposed philosophical systems melded together is the cause for much of the disagreement over the philosophical core of this film.

Parallels are also drawn between Tyler Durden's vision of the world after his revolution, and the views of Theodore Kaczynski, a.k.a. the Unabomber. This can be seen in one scene where Tyler talks about abseiling down the Sears Tower in clothes that will last you the rest of your life and hunting elk on abandoned freeways.

Some elements from the film have found their way into the mainstream, such as the first two rules of fight club both of which are You do not talk about fight club or the name "Tyler Durden" itself.


The movie appears to take place in Wilmington, Delaware, home to most credit card companies. Tyler's business card includes the Wilmington zip code 19808 and the Delaware area code 302. Moreover, the cities specifically mentioned in the car-smashing scene are New Castle, Delaware City and Penns Grove, NJ, which are close to Wilmington. The apartment building in which the narrator lives has as its motto "A Place To Be Somebody," which is also the city motto of Wilmington, Delaware. In the scene where the narrator desperately calls office buildings to warn them, the street names "Franklin" and "Harrison" are shown. However Franklin and Harrison streets run North to South in Wilmington's Westside/Hilltop neighborhood, a mile or so parallel to the corporate downtown. Wilmington city officials rejected the filmmakers' request to film in Delaware, in fear of copycats. It was filmed in LA instead and made to look like a generic city.

The film makers originally intended Tyler Durden to recite working recipes for homemade explosives. They later decided against it for the interest of public safety, and fake recipes were used.
Two of Tyler Durden's one-frame appearances
Two of Tyler Durden's one-frame appearances

In the beginning of the film, Tyler Durden flashes on screen for a duration of one frame, perhaps a forecast to Tyler's job as film projectionist, in 4 different instances. These are:

* At the photocopier at work while the Jack says "Everything is a copy, of a copy."
* In the doctor's office, when the narrator is learning about the testicular cancer support group.
* At that group's meeting.
* As the narrator sees Marla leaving a meeting but doesn't follow her.

These single frame flashes caused quality controllers to complain about "dirt" on the final reel. The film makers had to then reassure them that this was by design before the film was allowed to be distributed. Beyond these individual frame moments, Tyler also appears twice more; first on a hotel TV screen among a group of employees wearing white jackets and bidding the viewer "welcome" (look on the right side of the screen); and again while the Narrator is riding the moveable sidewalk in the airport. When the narrator asks "If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?", the camera pans to follow a white suited Tyler. This sort of trickery has become one of Fincher's trademarks.

In a similar one panel trick, a single frame showing a frontal view of a naked man is included in the view of the explosions at the end of the film. This is likely an internal reference to Tyler's practice of splicing single frames of pornography into family films during his job at the movie theatre, as if he is working at the cinema in question. A common urban legend is that this is Pitt's penis; a press release for the film said that it is not.

The main motives of the Fight Club film can be spotted in several other films. One might notice similarities between Tyler Durden and Brad Pitt's character in the 12 Monkeys (1995). Newer films have homages to Fight Club's story and directing style. Collateral (2004) and Old School (2003) are but two examples.

Meat Loaf as Robert Paulson with the Narrator
Meat Loaf as Robert Paulson with the Narrator

The film won the following awards:

* the 2000 Empire Award (UK) for Best British Actress (Helena Bonham Carter)
* the 2001 Online Film Critics Society Awards for Best DVD, Best DVD Commentary, and Best DVD Special Features
* the 2005 Total Film Magazine Award (UK) for "The Greatest Film of our Lifetime"

It was also nominated for the following awards:

* the 2000 Academy Award for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing
* the 2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Action Team (Brad Pitt & Edward Norton)
* the 2000 Brit Award for Best Soundtrack
* the 2000 Costume Designers Guild Award for Excellence for Costume Design for Film - Contemporary
* the 2000 Sierra Award from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards for Best DVD and Best Editing
* the 2000 MTV Movie Award for Best Fight (Edward Norton vs himself)
* the 2000 Golden Reel Award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA for Best Sound Editing - Effects & Foley
* the 2000 Online Film Critics Society Awards for Best Actor (Edward Norton), Best Director, Best Film, Best Film Editing, and Best Screenplay, Adapted
* the 2000 Political Film Society Award for Democracy


Technical data

* runtime: 139 minutes
* sound: DTS / Dolby EX 6.1
* aspect ratio: 2.35 : 1
* release date: October 6, 1999 (USA)
* budget: $63,000,000
* MPAA rating: R


Cast and roles include

* Edward Norton - Narrator
* Brad Pitt - Tyler Durden
* Helena Bonham Carter - Marla Singer
* Meat Loaf - Robert 'Bob' Paulson
* Zach Grenier - Richard Chesler
* Richmond Arquette - Intern
* David Andrews - Thomas
* George Maguire - Group Leader
* Eugenie Bondurant - Weeping Woman
* Christina Cabot - Group Leader
* Sydney 'Big Dawg' Colston - Speaker
* Rachel Singer - Chloe
* Christie Cronenweth - Airline Attendant
* Tim De Zarn - Inspector Bird
* Ezra Buzzington - Inspector Dent
* Dierdre Downing-Jackson - Woman
* Robert J. Stephenson - Airport Security Officer
* Charlie Dell - Doorman
* Rob Lanza - Man in Suit
* David Lee Smith - Walter
* Holt McCallany - The Mechanic
* Joel Bissonnette - Food Court Maitre'd
* Eion Bailey - Ricky
* Evan Mirand - Steph
* Robby Robinson - Next Month's Opponent
* Lou Beatty Jr. - Cop at Marla's Building
* Thom Gossom Jr. - Detective Stern
* Valerie Bickford - Cosmetics Buyer
* Jared Leto - Angel Face
* Peter Iacangelo - Lou