January 17, 2011

My Favourite Movie is Called Fight Club [review time]

"It's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything"

I'm really adamant about this. Fight Club is my favourite movie of all time. The main point of this review is to get people to watch this film that has such deeper meaning than the title suggests, and I've provided a spoiler-free video to show you what the movie is really about. In a way, this doesn't achieve what I'm after because the main focus of the scene is the fight club, which is only really important in the middle portion of the movie, but here you get some of the ideology and the message. Consumerism has enslaved the modern man to 9 to 5 weekdays. That's the basic message, but what makes this film great is that after watching it time and time again, the message becomes more complex and well drawn out. In a way it's harder to put into words than the first time I ever saw it, because whether or not we are to agree with Tyler's point of view, or agree with how far he takes it, is really up in the air.

It's not hard to imagine that a 9 to 5 office job running reports for a major car company's failure rates would cause insomnia when paired with the modern bachelor lifestyle. What's the point in having a fine line between waking and sleeping when your whole life is spent in a stupor? Our protagonist, Rupert/Cornelius/Travis/Jack (his real name is never given) is looking to change his life, to re-define himself, and he's not a healthy person to begin with. His mental illness is evident not only in his insomnia but in his droning narration, his cynicism, and his addiction to self-help groups. Attending groups for testicular cancer, tuberculosis, blood parasites, you name it, helps Jack feel like someone is actually listening to him (because they think he's dying), helps him cry, and ultimately helps him sleep at night. Until he finds something else, something better, that addresses the problem directly.

Jack meets Tyler Durden - a man who lives a fulfilling and meaningful life far, far outside of the rules of society. He lives in squalor and filth, not as a result of poverty, but as the result of having rejected the materialist lifestyle of the young American worker. He knows what he wants out of life, he has a plan, and this makes Jack admire him to the point of exaltation. Jack and Tyler begin the fight club, a kind of therapy for the middle-class working bachelor who has no meaning in his life, but it ends up going farther than Jack ever imagined. This is Jack's first mistake, and a road to a very dark place. Much of the movie's message really hinges on whether or not he wants to be there in the end.

---Spoilers ahead---

Another Sunday spent movie watching. I've seen this film about a dozen times, and it gets better and better with each re-watch. This time I was left questioning Jack's final feelings on the actions of Project Mayhem. In the final scene it seems to be really left up to us to decide whether Tyler managed to free Jack from his chains, or whether we are to believe that Tyler went too far. Or do we get a combination of their two extreme viewpoints. Does freedom require violent rebellion?

Jack doesn't seem too concerned that he has blown up all of the major credit-card company's headquarters. His final struggle was to overcome Tyler's control over his life and retain his sanity. Watching the skyscrapers plunge to the ground, accompanied by the soulful vocals of "Where is my Mind" by The Pixies, I'm personally filled with a sense of peace and acceptance. "Let the chips fall where they may," as Tyler said. Jack fought against Tyler's incredibly dramatic strike for economic equilibrium, but now that it has happened and there is nothing we can do about it, we may as well enjoy the outcome. I think this is the best I can do to put the message into words. We're not struggling against our own rebellion any more. It's happened and we're enjoying the ride.

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