'Fight Club' - the Film Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Fight Club' - the Film

4 Conversations


  • Edward Norton - The Narrator
  • Brad Pitt - Tyler Durden
  • Helena Bonham Carter - Marla Singer
  • Meat Loaf - Robert 'Bob' Paulsen

Production Credits

  • Director - David Fincher
  • Screenplay - Jim Uhls
  • Soundtrack - The Dust Brothers
  • Tag line - 'Mischief. Mayhem. Soap.'
  • Adapted from the novel Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

'The First Rule of Fight Club is: You Do Not Talk About Fight Club'

Except, of course, it's one of those films that you want to talk about. In a way, you have to talk about it. On the one hand, the film is graphically violent. Not in that cartoonish way that films often are but in a very real, visceral sense. The fight scenes that are as integral to the movie as the dialogue are bloody, brutal and nasty. If you've ever been in a real fight, you'll know what to expect. You'll also see a light dusting of Hollywood, but that's to be expected. It is a movie, after all.

'The Second Rule of Fight Club is: You Do Not Talk About Fight Club'

If you haven't seen Fight Club, please rent it or buy it. Now. You see, while talking briefly about the characters and skimming over the plot is acceptable, it's impossible to talk about the film detail without spoiling it for someone.

If you have not seen Fight Club while your friends have, you may use a simple test to find out which of them are true friends. Ask them to tell you about Fight Club. The ones that smile and refuse are the people you should stick with.

'When Someone Says 'Stop' or Goes Limp, the Fight is Over'

Fight Club is one of those films that stays with you after you've seen it. On the one hand, it's as good a piece of entertainment as Hollywood has produced in a while. On the other hand, it asks a lot of questions and makes a lot of comments that still ring true. Even after the movie ends and you understand what has been going on you will either be appalled and never want to watch the film again, or you will wander away with a slight smile. Whichever, you'll be watching it again soon.

'Only Two Guys to a Fight'

The main protagonists are Edward Norton's character, who we'll call Jack - although no one in the film refers to him by name, that's how he's identified in the script - and Brad Pitt's, who we'll call Tyler. Jack works for a major car manufacturer. Tyler makes soap. They meet on an aircraft. Not long afterwards they beat each other up for no other reason than Tyler's comment 'How can you really know anything about yourself if you've never been in a fight?'

The relationship between Jack and Tyler is the linchpin of the film; much of what happens revolves around the two of them and Tyler's unique view of the world. Watching Jack learn about it, his reactions to it, is what draws us into the film and keeps our attention.

'One Fight at a Time'

And then there's Marla - played by Helena Bonham Carter, who is at this point well on her way to killing off her Merchant Ivory1 reputation. Marla's relationship with Jack and Tyler gives us an outside perspective on the action in the film.

Fight Club keeps things nice and sequential. Each person that is drawn into Jack and Tyler's world has a purpose, although you may not realise it at the time. Come to that, it's not always clear in retrospect either. Well... not the first time. The plot develops almost without warning and as soon as you think you're watching one type of film, Fight Club turns out to be quite another.

'No Shirts, No Shoes'

Fight Club is unashamedly violent in both action and language. It also contains some ideas that aren't afraid to kick you around a little either. People who are familiar with Discordianism or Zenarchy may find one or two things here that they recognise. Anarchists might salute some of Tyler's cheerful comments; in fact, it's the wit and wisdom of Tyler Durden that keeps the film moving on. You can never be entirely sure what he might say next and that's one of the reasons you keep watching. But armchair subversives should beware. Tyler's message isn't necessarily what you think it is.

'Fights Go On as Long as They Have To'

To slip into review-ese for a moment, this is a tightly plotted and pacey film. There is very little wasted space and not much in the way of exposition. The almost entirely male cast lend the movie a very high testosterone count, as does the violence. Helena Bonham Carter is excellent. She sports a very nice American accent, looks cute in a slightly psychotic and bedraggled manner and is obviously having a certain amount of fun. Edward Norton's performance is nothing short of spectacular. We all know that Brad Pitt can be a real box of fireworks when he's given a role to have fun in, but Norton's portrayal of Jack gets better and better the more times it's seen. The depth he gives the character lends massive watchability to the movie.

'If This is Your First Night at Fight Club, You Have to Fight'

The first time you watch Fight Club, you'll treat it like the first time you saw The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense. You'll be watching for the twist, the surprise. Don't. The thing about this film is that the cool stuff starts happening from the very beginning of the film and just keeps going.

The second time you watch Fight Club, you'll think you have a handle on it. You don't. There are things you missed first time around that you will catch this time. Remember, though, that however much you notice now, you will still be missing things. At this point, you will want to discuss the movie with people. They will tell you about those things you missed and you will watch the movie a third time.

You may consider this a struggle, but if it's your first night at Fight Club '...you have to fight'.

'The First Rule of Project Mayhem Is: You Do Not Ask Questions'

Inevitably, you'll want to know more. As Tyler says, 'You decide your own level of involvement', so for those who wish to dig deeper:

Further Reading

1Producer/director filmmakers Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, who have cornered the market in late 19th/early 20th Century costume dramas such as Howard's End and Remains of the Day, some of which have starred Bonham Carter. The term 'Merchant Ivory' has, in some ways, become a generic term for films of this type.

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