CST Throwback Thursday: Film of the Week

Share Button

by Claudio Zelaya,

Can’t talk about it. Throwback over. Goodbye.

Kidding! I mean, not really, but let’s forget the rules for one night, right? I’ve been salivating at the chance to write this article as soon as the idea of “Throwback Thursdays” was introduced. “Fight Club” is arguably my favorite movie of all time at this moment. Tomorrow, it can be “The Social Network”, but let’s focus on today. The one thing both movies have in common is that they’re directed by the masterful David Fincher. Originally not loved by critics or the academy, “Fight Club” has grown to be one of the most loved movies of its generation. Some don’t appreciate the violence the film uses to make its point, but I definitely love the brutality it offers.

Hailing from 1999, “Fight Club” was ahead of its time; it’s ahead of mine at least because I was four when it came out. The movie focuses on a nameless narrator played by Edward Norton, a zombie walking through his mundane life. His frustration with his insomnia and his doctor’s unwillingness to give him medication leaves him looking at other means of de-stressing. He finds this by going to meetings for diseases he doesn’t have. The comfort he gets from all his classmates lets him sleep at night, but when a woman named Marla joins his circle, he turns to an unlikely friend named Tyler Durden.

I’m not sure how I managed to avoid the twist for all these years, but I was left jaw dropped when I realized how crazy this film is. Spoil alert: the narrator is Tyler Durden himself. With repeated viewings, you start seeing Tyler splices more and more and catch the clues Fincher gave us about the twist. Tyler represents the rebellious side of the narrator wanting to break free of the chains of the world he never fit into. While his methods were awfully crude, Tyler wanted the narrator to know he shouldn’t worry about what he can and can’t control and just let go. To be free of all the stress he induces upon himself. That’s what the line, “you are not what you own”, comes in. It speaks about the affect consumerism has on us as humans. We take pride in the material things we have and are bonded to the idea that we are only what we own. The narrator is wasting his time with his routine lifestyle and worrying about the new couch for his living room and not actually living his life.

We’re fed this idea that money makes us who we are. But we are not the content of our wallets. Tyler builds his army to disrupt the world order and repaint in with anarchy. The dramatic and criminal elements are meant for entertainment, but the lesson is there. Fincher is a master of suspense and seamlessly executed the “person vs self” concept. Tyler is literally the narrator’s imaginary friend, yet we get just as much character development for him as we do for the main narrator. Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, arguably, gave the performances of their lives. I have never seen THAT Brad Pitt in years and can’t wait for him to return. I wonder if that kind of performance was a once in a life time thing, but the film world is all the better for it.

Eighteen years later, “Fight Club’s” dark humor is a constant reminder of the chaos that we create in our own lives. While we squabble over what we own, others are actually living their lives. The violence can be an acquired taste, but it perfectly defines the narrator’s desire to punch life in the face and say, “I am not Jack’s wasted life.” Whether you like the movie or not, take the lesson it gives you because you are not your job; you’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world!

Final Word