David Fincher’s apocalyptic, hysterical, and blood-soaked satire of male (wish)fulfillment Fight Club escaped into theaters in 1999, and yet its message still rings loud and clear: FUCK THE MAN. And make no mistake – this film literally escaped. How did they ACTUALLY get away with all of the stuff in this movie? I’m not going to delve into all of the various ideas and storytelling levels that the wild narrative operates on; that’s been done hundreds of times by very intellectual writers and I don’t feel I can really offer anything new. But what I can state is how this movie made me feel as a 19 year old film student and obsessive movie fan when I saw it opening night with my college buddies – it made us feel alive and explosive in a way that few films ever have. And now that I’m a 37 year old father and looking to the next chapter of my life, the film’s themes of societal placement, advancement, and the construct of family and its importance (or lack thereof) seem more relevant and thought provoking than ever. This film is an anarchist’s dream come true; look no further than the beyond ballsy final moments with the collapse of the American credit system.
I love how this movie doesn’t give a fuck about anything, it could care less if you like it, and at times, seems to be openly mocking the viewer for enjoying any portion of it. Fincher’s subversive streak was in full swing here, and because the material was so fertile with ideas, his lightning-quick visual style had tons to leap off of. Fincher, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, screenwriter Jim Uhls, original novelist Chuck Palahniuk, cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth, and editor James Haygood were all in perfect synch with regards to the aesthetic construction of this film and how it tied into the dense and mordantly funny narrative. Everything is up for analysis, critique, deconstruction, and destruction in this berserk and ferocious piece of work, and when it came out, I remember the critical community proudly taking sides over the merit (or lack thereof) of the film’s message, and asking if it was a dangerous piece of propaganda or a masterfully satirical comment about the male psyche and how it’s influenced by various forms of emotional and visceral stimuli, in an effort to smother, suppress, or fully control. This is a ballsy movie, a film with something to say, and the live-wire nerve to say it.
The extra-slick visual tricks that Fincher and his creative team employed still feel fresh in that hopped-up manner that was desired, while the film’s hysterical sense of its own self has become more and more apparent and downright incendiary over the years and countless viewings. Thank you, Bill Mechanic. Thank you, David Fincher, Chuck Palahniuk, Jim Uhls, and all of the hugely talented people that made this form-busting piece of cinema come to life. There’s absolutely ZERO CHANCE this film gets made today, even with Fincher’s clout that he’s attained. I got some flack the other day for “demanding” that Fincher get back to challenging and risk-taking films such as this. And while I understand that the marketplace is VERY different now than it was in 1999 (hell, the entire industry changed yet again, for the worse, in 2008), the fact that Fincher is capable of films such as Seven and Fight Club and Zodiac, well, it just makes me yearn for something truly exceptional again. Something that literally bursts through the screen and chokes me at the neck saying LOOK HOW OUT OF BOUNDS BRILLIANT I AM. I’m greedy, and I love David Fincher’s unique view of the world. And for me, Fight Club is endless in its cinematic glories.