FINCHERFEST: Fight Club

27 09 2010

Fincher followed up disappointment with “The Game” by directing “Fight Club” in 1999, which would prove to be an iconic movie and cultural phenomenon.  While it didn’t do much business in theaters, it became a cult hit on video.  In today’s installment of Fincherfest, I’ll attempt to peg what has made it such a smashing success with fans for over a decade.

There are a multitude of ways to interpret “Fight Club,” and for precisely that reason, it is a great movie.  It can mean so many things to so many people; everyone gets something different out of it.  Heck, you can even see it through a Fascist light!  I’ve only seen it once, so there is a certain level of depth of the movie that I haven’t reached.

However, I don’t intend to bore anyone by reciting the plot or saying that the acting, directing, and writing is great.  That’s been common knowledge for over a decade now, and me saying that doesn’t really add anything to the movie.  The proof is in the celluloid (and now DVD and whatever other formats are out there).

I watched the movie a year ago after some residual curiosity from “Benjamin Button” compelled me to check out David Fincher’s violent side.  But before that, I had heard nothing but amazing things from the legions of male fans my age.  Sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed.  Although it still ranks behind “Button” for me, this is my favorite of Fincher’s early explorations to the darker side of human nature.

Here’s what I think has made it such an endearing classic for the younger generation: we have been so diligently trained to suppress all our impulsive emotions that eventually we want to explode.  Sometimes, our lives are so sheltered and so desensitized that sometimes we have the deep desire to feel some kind of emotion, even if it must be pain.  To quote Lady Antebellum, “I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all.”

“Fight Club” indulges that side of all teenage boys and budding men by going back to our primordial cavemen instincts.  We have to fight for what we want.  Kill or be killed.  The movie finds a sort of catharsis in violence, using it to express all the frustration men feel at the oppression of their natural tendencies.  So in a messed-up kind of way, the movie has served as a wake-up call to boys and men everywhere to reclaim their masculinity and reassert themselves.

There’s a perfect quote from Fincher himself that sums up the movie from my interpretation:

“We’re designed to be hunters and we’re in a society of shopping. There’s nothing to kill anymore, there’s nothing to fight, nothing to overcome, nothing to explore. In that societal emasculation this everyman [the narrator] is created.”

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3 responses

30 09 2010
Fitz

I like it as a social commentary on the consumer culture we live in. My old roommate liked it because, “Norton fucked up Leto good.” This film is appreciated by the majority of people for the wrong reasons.

2 10 2010
Frank Mengarelli

I know I need to re-watch this now that I’m older, but I have never actually cared for this film. I do think it is a good film, and I do enjoy the commentary of current American life/culture – but I feel that this film falls under the “Braveheart”, “Gladiator” category of everyone thinking this the best film ever made. Fanboys really kill movies for me.

2 10 2010
Marshall

I know the feeling there – overhype and overpraising can really ruin a movie!

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