Movies became means of mass entertainment, unlike theatre because they generally tell a story, or convey a message. For few hours the audience are transported in a reality that is different and yet familiar with their own reality. The effect is similar to reading a good novel but unlike a novel that is a flat way of telling a story because a novel depends on words to convey the story, while a movie takes the help of other props to make experience more realistic, the actors who enact the role of characters, the setting and technical details that help to create an atmosphere and the contrived environment, dimmed lights, surrounding sounds, all these make the audience forget their own lives and enter into the lives of the characters on the screen. Fight Club is a powerful movie that tries to blur the difference between audience and a character.
Unlike the movies that are made and released every day in droves in all corners of the world to entertain the audience, Fight Club makes the audience sit up and look seriously at the contemporary society. It is serious, it conveys a message on the meaninglessness in the modern life, it is a satire on capitalist world and its overpowering emphasis on money as a source of everything good in the world theme, Though the movie, when it was realized, was not accepted by a large number of audience, over the years it has acquired a kind of cult following because it forces the audience to a fresh critical look at the contemporary values. The movie comes in the genre of a ‘dark comic drama’.
The movie is based on a novel written by Chuck Palahniuk that was also called Fight Club, which was printed and marketed in 1996. Some executives from Fox showed interest in acquiring movie rights even before the book was published. However, other executives have serious doubts about the theme and advised against making a movie based on this book. Their advise was disregarded and Fox bought the movie rights and decided to go ahead and make a film based on the story of the novel. Fight Club was directed by David Fincher and produced by Art Linson, Cean Chaffin and Ross Grayson Bell. Jim Uhls wrote the screenplay and Brat Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham were the main actors. The movie was released in 1999 with the hope that it would appeal to the segment of audience that loved movies ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ and ‘The Graduate’, movies that highlight the disconnect between the young people and contemporary values adapted by the society. However, the film was not an economic success, it failed to stir the imagination of the general audience, though in the successive years after the release of DVD it has acquired a kind of cult following among the younger audience who feel disenchanted with the gross emphasis on material things and are searching for meaning in other things.
Fight Club is a story of a young man who is only known by the anonymous name of ‘Narrator’ played by Edward Norton. Narrator is in throes of a depressions, he hates his work, he hates the way he is treated in his workplace like a machine part what is fitted in a big machine to keep it moving, he feels that this is inhuman. He feels unappreciated and without a friend and a family tries to find solace in support groups. However, most of the support groups are created to support cancer victims and as a depressed character he has no place in these groups, but he finds the only way to get over his depression is to join these clubs. Narrator pretends to a cancer patient and becomes addicted to support groups, he meets Marla in this group who knows that the Narrator is not a cancer patient but he is only pretending to be one to join the group. He convinces Marla not join the same support groups. Narrator meets Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt.
Tyler follows a peculiar type of philosophy, he believes a person can learn a memorable lesson through physical pain. He convinces the Narrator to join him a physical fight. The Narrator finds that the idea of a physical fight appeals to him immensely. He feels truly alive after the physical fight. The Narrator and Tyler form a secret fight club where other disenchanted young men join them to fight and find some meaning in their lives. He and Tyler become great friends and even live in the same house. Marla is Tyler’s girl friend and the Narrator realizes that he is in love with Marla. The bonding between the Narrator and Tyler become more complicated. The fight club becomes famous even though it was suppose to be a secret. Eventually the Narrator discovers that Tyler is his alter ego, he and Tyler and different facets of the same personality.
The Fight Club is not an easy movie to watch, the plot takes so many twists and turns that it is not easy to follow. However, it is easy to recognize the theme of the story, the alienation of the young in a society that is becoming more and more materialistic. Fight Club looks at an in depth, critical view on the cultural patterns in all societies and finds them wanting and meaningless. This the reason why the movie is still avidly watched by people even after so many years.