Top 100 Films. 77 – Fight Club (1999)

David Fincher’s magnum opus and considered one of the greatest films in modern cinema. Fight Club tackles the conflict of generation X and the foundations of capitalism in the guise of men beating the crap out of each other.

An unnamed character played by Ed Norton is zombified from his white collar, 9-5 job, lives a normal life, buying normal products doing normal things. His mundane life is disrupted by the introduction of two characters. Marla, played by Helena Bonham Carter and Tyler Durden played by Brad Pitt. Ed Norton’s character creates an underground fight club. It starts as an underground fight club but transpires to something more.

I have studied this film numerous times in my 6 plus years of studying film. It is easy to see why. This film is one of the most important films in the 90’s and was perfect for it’s timing. Made in 1999, this film wouldn’t of been made post 9/11 and it encaptured the crisis of masculinity and the disenfranchisement of generation X perfectly. This is Fincher’s best work and has not been topped since.

Fight Club has Fincher’s style of dark tones and quick editing. It is visually great, the grittiness of yellows and green exemplifies the underground nature of the fight club and the underground terrorist group. This is a slick, gritty and a hard film to watch but for those reasons, I love it.

It was a high budget arthouse film that put a middle finger up to Hollywood. It criticised, consumerism, capitalism, machoism. It pulled a lot of punches and from it’s topics you can see why it wasn’t overly successful. Fight Club only gained notoriety on DVD. It has become a modern cult classic that must be one of the most studied films in the study of cinema.

The twist ending is also one of the greatest reveals in cinema that creates a lot of questions and makes you rewatch the film in a new light. For some this is just a film about a macho club of men who beat the living crap out of each other. However, it is a much deeper and complex film then that. The twist ending has a lot to play on this.

It is gratuitously violent, the topics discussed are difficult to take and the film is just gritty and uneasy. However, it has to be gratuitous, it was refreshing to see these topics under a spotlight and FIght Club would not of worked without Fincher’s distinct style. Fight Club facilitates the anxiety of the millenium and it’s foresight of what we would fear and conflict has made this film ever more relevant. In the words of Tyler Durden, ‘You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.’ 

And on that note, watch this film. It is fantastic.

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