Based on Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel of the same name, Fight Club is the greatest movie ever made (maybe).
Released nearly two decades ago, at the turn of the century, there are, unarguably, a few moments where it’s age becomes clear. The clothing, cars, and the turn-of-the-millennium minimalist style of the Ikea homage that is the narrator’s apartment, to name a few. Yet, despite these brief moments of dated design there is no denying that the movie’s powerful message continues to shine through and resonate with current movie audiences.
Even before a single shot or line of dialogue we are offered a fake copyright splash card on which is written Tyler’s manifesto. Later the four split second appearances of a character yet to be introduced by the narrator jar us into paying even closer attention to every frame on screen. For these reasons, plus so many more (need I mention the breaking of the fourth wall years before Deadpool did it?) we see that David Fincher is taking an entirely non-traditional path with his storytelling.
The entire movie is shot in an easily recognizable Fincher-esque color palette of blues, greens, and yellows; colors that are not dissimilar to the bruises that adorn the male protagonist(s) throughout the film’s run time. Fight Club is Fincher’s fourth, full-length movie, preceded by Alien3, Se7en, and The Game in ‘92, ‘95 and ‘97 respectively.
Here we revel in a powerful director’s established style, his courageous use of exposition, his abhorrence of hand held cameras, his sparse use of close ups, even his love of the main character’s refrigerator interior. They, and many more Fincher heavy choices are all evident and lend power and clarity to a story about the brokenness and hopelessness of young men in America.
Rather than aging poorly as so many of the movies from the same era have done (Wild Wild West, anyone?), it is very clear that with the surge of narcissism and self-aggrandizement that so defines today’s millennial generation that Fight Club is perhaps, somehow, more vital today than when it first came out. A movie that so wonderfully and violently captured the frustration and anti-establishment mindset of Generation X now calls through the years to each and every instagram obsessed twentysomething, reminding them, “You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We are all part of the same compost heap. We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
Of course many find the stark nihilism of Tyler Durden jarring and hopeless, but if one can resign oneself to the truth that “it's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything,” then we can be free indeed.
To no longer grasp after money, notoriety, material possessions, that is true liberty from the ever encroaching oppression of the capitalist juggernaut that demands our attention every waking moment.
Initially a box office flop, making only $37 million domestically, barely half of it’s production budget, Fight Club has since come into its own, now sitting at #10 of IMDB’s top 250 movies of all time. Not that one should place a lot of stock in that top 10, as there are a couple of real duds far too high (*cough* Lord of the Rings *cough*).
What could explain the consistent and continuous growth in the film’s popularity, other than a story that resonates truthfully with an ever growing fan base? As one by one they too are inducted into a secret society (although we’ve all certainly broken rule 1 & 2 numerous times). A society in which the destruction of society’s standard of beauty and the quest for self-destruction are praised. The reward or induction is to be instantly accepted by like minded men with open arms, to find freedom from the great depression that is our lives. Are there movies out there with a higher production value, better special effects, strong female characters, more likable heroes, heck, more likable anti-heroes?
But are there any movies that invite those of us who long to rage against the broken system which we’re expected to blindly follow to rise up, to fight, to cause the mayhem necessary for true change?
And that is why Fight Club is the greatest movie ever made (maybe).
Author: Matt Hughes