Meaning Of The Movie Fight Club (1999) & Its Ending, The Rules Of The Club, Description & Explanation Of The Plot, Quotes. “Freedom Is The Loss Of Hope”: What Is The Idea Of the Film Fight Club?
Country: USA, Germany
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Crime
Year of production: 1999
Director: David Fincher
Actors: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter
“Fight Club” tops the list of films that, at the time of release, are lukewarmly received by film critics and fail at the box office. And over time, they acquire the status of a cult.
The meaning of the movie “Fight Club” (Fight Club) is that anyone who embarked on the path of fighting with himself, can come to self-destruction. This is a movie about the collapse of the American dream, about internal conflict, about the struggle with one’s own prejudices and ideas about life.
What is the movie about
Fight Club is based on the book of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. But the director of the film, David Fincher, reworked the content of the original, changed a number of scenes and the ending. His creation ended up being much deeper and broader than Palahniuk’s original idea.
Summary of Fight Club. The unnamed narrator works for an insurance company, but he doesn’t enjoy his job.
Gradually, he develops depression. The psychoanalyst recommends that he start visiting all kinds of support groups for patients in order to be in an atmosphere of reigning sadness and mutual understanding.
Edward Norton as Jack. Frame from the film.
Everything seems to be going well for the narrator, but he meets a woman named Marla Singer, who is also depressed and also attends support groups.
A little later, he meets Tyler Durden, a mysterious man who undermines established social positions with his actions.
One day, a conflict between friends leads to a brawl, which attracts the attention of other men who gather in a kind of fight club, where fights are constantly taking place. Gradually, Tyler transforms the club into something more: all his actions are based on the philosophical idea that destruction is the impetus for development.
The Eight Rules of Fight Club
The basic rules of fight club are the rules of Tyler Durden’s life and philosophy. The first and second rules are the same. They sound like this:
- “Don’t tell anyone about fight club.” In essence, this means that instead of words, there should be actions. Do, not talk or cry.
- “Don’t tell anyone about fight club.”
- “If someone says stop, the fight is over.” That is, the matter should have a completion, and there should not be any gaps.
- “There are only two in combat.” The explanation is this: a person fights not with a real opponent, but with his own ego. The protagonist of the film fought with himself.
- “All fights go in turn.” That is, you need to constantly fight with yourself.
- “No shirts and no shoes.” The point is that the fight should not turn into a show, that is, you can’t do any concessions to yourself: everything should be for real.
- “Fights continue as long as necessary.” This symbolizes the rule “fight to the end and never give up.”
- “The rookie has to take the fight.” That is, there is no need to postpone: you need to start right now.
When Fight Club hit theaters in 1999, it went largely unnoticed. But then the film acquired a cult status and summed up the second half of the twentieth century, reflecting its fractures, crises and contradictions. A whole generation of young people repeated like a mantra: “Self-destruction is our goal” or “We are from a generation of men raised by women.”
At first glance, Fight Club is a common critique of the consumer society – and the notorious American Dream. But if everything was so simple, this film would not be talked about so much and so often. The main plot twist of the film is that the two main characters are the same person.
Frame from the film.
Initially, the viewer meets the narrator. He is a young, middle-class man who works for an automobile corporation. He often travels around the country, decorates the interior of his apartment with the help of a catalog and suffers from insomnia.
In order to somehow get rid of the blues, the hero attends a meeting of men with testicular cancer. All this is required for him to feel what real problems are.
The narrator has a well-fed life, and he is completely embedded in the structure of the consumer society. That is, the meaning of the picture is not in the revolt of the social lower strata. It is the middle class that rebels in Fight Club, which, in principle, has everything. All but one is desire.
One day the main character meets another, as he said, “disposable friend” on the plane. His name is Tyler Durden. It seems to be another meaningless acquaintance. But then, for inexplicable reasons, the narrator’s apartment explodes, and he is forced to start living with Tyler in a dilapidated house on the outskirts of the city.
This is where the gradual formation of a fight club begins, which later turns into the “Rout” project, which committed a series of explosions in the city at the very end of the film.
Tyler is not a separate person, this is the alter ego of the narrator himself, his ideal of masculinity.
Marla plays an equally important role. They meet the narrator at anonymous cancer meetings and then often meet each other. To be more precise, Tyler meets – the narrator only watches what is happening …
Kiss Tyler Durden
At the very beginning of the film, doctors recommend that the narrator attend a meeting of cancer patients so that he becomes a spectator of the unfolding drama about human mortality.
Tyler invites him to participate in this himself. “Feel the pain,” Tyler says to the narrator after giving him a chemical burn. He is sure that if you feel pain, you can feel life.
Here it is appropriate to recall an episode from the life of Nietzsche, when, proving to his classmates the veracity of an ancient myth, he took coal from the fireplace and held it until everyone agreed with him. After that, Nietzsche was left with a burn. In Fight Club, violence takes on a liberating role.
Is Marla the third personality of the narrator?
At the end, the narrator and Marla take each other’s hands. The union of a woman and a man is creation and contemplation (marriage, children). That is, the meaning is this: love is liberation.
But there is another interpretation: some reviews and analyzes say that Marla Singer may be one of the personalities of the protagonist.
Marla Singer, played by Helena Bonham Carter. Frame from the film.
For example, Marla, having swallowed pills, called Tyler, and he saved her. After all, the narrator was perplexed: “How could a person like Tyler be alarmed that Marla Singer was on the verge of death?” Everything is simple here: the narrator himself was on the verge of death, and he himself called the doctors. The alter ego, Tyler, was solely concerned with his own safety: if the narrator disappeared, Tyler would also disappear.
It is Tyler who is the strongest personality of the narrator – she symbolizes (in his opinion) true masculinity. If Marla is his feminine, then she “competes” with Tyler for a place in the narrator. Tyler constantly reminded him to get rid of her: she is his opposite, and she could very well become a dominant person.
Where did Tyler Durden’s warning come from?
The warning from Durden, which became a motivational meme, appeared on the DVD version of Fight Club. This text followed immediately after the copyright infringement warning for illegal copying of the film.
The text did not hang for long – only a few seconds. However, they managed to screen it and put it on the Internet.
In conversations about Fight Club, the figure of Nietzsche often pops up, although the connection here is rather indirect. The film’s slogan is: “Only by losing everything to the end, we gain freedom.” At the center of the film is the idea of self-destruction: you must renounce everything that binds you to the world, and only then will you find true freedom.
How does the middle class rebel? This is a rebellion against standardization, against the one-dimensionality of a person in modern society – with the same life, in the same apartments with the same interior.
Moreover, rebellion first occurs at the level of material liberation. That is why the first important step is the explosion in the apartment of the protagonist: getting rid of everything material and will bring freedom.
The next step is that a person must give up all his moral values. That is, he must literally free himself from all ties with the world – from all the rules and conventions that make a person part of a common system.
But in order to feel yourself, you also need to break through to the true nature of man. And that, according to Tyler Durden’s philosophy, meant experiencing real life through pain.
What else do we need for complete freedom? Freedom from the father, that is, from God. Nietzsche once said: “God is dead! We killed God!” In the film, Tyler compares his father and God, saying that he abandoned us. The father abandoned his son, as God abandoned humanity.
This idea is consonant with the idea of Nietzsche. Its meaning is this: God left this world, and we are left here alone, free from any external authority. At first glance, a classically Nietzschean image looms.
But this is not entirely true: in Fight Club, special emphasis is placed only on the negative side of Nietzsche’s ideas, completely skipping the positive – the creative part of his philosophy. Tyler’s philosophy lies in the phrase “Freedom from …”, and true freedom (including Nietzsche’s) is “Freedom for …”
“Fight Club” conveys Nietzsche’s rhetoric and the idea of human liberation, but does not carry the thought through to the end. However, after this film, some viewers became interested in Nietzsche’s philosophy – and this is already good.
Jack and Taller Darden, played by Brad Pitt. Frame from the film.
The meaning of the ending
At the end of the film, the narrator realizes that Tyler is his alter ego. He decided to get rid of him in the most primitive, but, as it turned out, effective way – with the help of weapons …
At the end of the book, the narrator finds himself in a paradise he did not believe in. It is understood that the hero, being an extremely weak person, lost the battle with himself, and from now on his destiny is a psychiatric hospital.
Everything about the movie is ambiguous. The meaning of the ending of the film “Fight Club” is twofold: at the end, the narrator takes Marla by the hand and watches the skyscrapers collapse.
The soundtrack sounds – the Pixies song “Where is my mind”.
Such an ending can be seen as a victory over the alter ego: the former world of the narrator is completely destroyed, and he is freed from everything that oppressed him, which means that Tyler no longer has a place in his life. Or you can perceive it as a complete collapse: having destroyed the previous world, the narrator essentially did not create anything, and his further future is foggy. By the way, Palahniuk himself liked the finale of the film more.
Alternative interpretations of the film
The end of the film “Fight Club”, and especially the frame at the end of the film, raised many questions among the audience, forced them to dissect the picture, and look for hidden meaning. Against this backdrop, many interpretations have emerged.
“A generation of men raised by women” is the essence of the modern paradigm of Western society – the suppression of everything masculine. Tyler dreams of restoring the status quo between male and female in the ruins of Rockefeller Center, hence his (Tyler’s) model of interaction with Marla and other characters.
Tyler’s philosophy is self-actualization through awareness of oneself as worthless – the opposite of the infantile feeling of being the center of the universe. That is why Tyler destroys the narrator’s universe step by step, starting with the condominium – that cozy universe that he so carefully built, trying to fill the inner void.
Tyler’s philosophy is a challenge to the feminized consumerist Western society, which traded freedom for security, but, in the end, was deprived of both, which Tyler demonstrated when he created Mayhem.
Later, through pain, Tyler leads the narrator to initiation, a symbolic death that only occurs at the end of the film when the narrator attempts to commit suicide. In the finale (according to the book), while in a psychiatric hospital, the narrator finds his “I”, his worldview is in the middle between his old infantile idealistic position and Tyler’s position.
Frame from the film.
There is also a non-standard solution to the film. Chuck Palahniuk, cultivating masculinity, eventually became a homosexual. That is, this novel was an unsuccessful attempt to preserve masculinity.
It is also interesting that Palahniuk’s father, being a very courageous and strong man, died at the hands of a criminal who was jealous of his wife (she had previously met with this criminal and was specifically looking for a very courageous man who could protect her from his “ex”, who promised kill her as soon as she is released). This is how the masculinity of the Palahniuk family collapsed.
The simplest explanation for the ending looks like this.
The protagonist of the film was at an impasse, and even at the end he could not get out of there. He was not able to honestly dive into his depth and endure it, he remained a small man, he did not change.
All his forces, instead of sweeping away his own “I”, he cowardly directed to the destruction of the external. This is not the path of a free person, but either a neurotic or a psychopath. In the end, this leads to the complete degradation of the individual.
Frame from the film.
Questions Remaining Questions
The philosophy of the film is a rejection of corporate culture and modern values, and Tyler, on the contrary, is always dressed with chic and looks like a guy from the cover of a magazine. There are a lot of advertisements in the film itself. That is, self-destruction and chaos can be imagined as a denial of what the hero could not achieve. It turns out that the hero responds to the hypocrisy of those around him with his own hypocrisy?
One more thing. The protagonist first comes to a “comfortable place” where everything is bad for everyone and leaves it for a bad place where everything is good for everyone. It probably means that modern man has binary thinking and is prone to extremes.
Or maybe all this is about the lack of choice in the society of the late XX-XXI century?After watching this film, “fight clubs” were indeed created around the world: a very important “bell” for everyone.
Famous movie quotes
The cult film “Fight Club” was sorted into quotes.
Here is some of them.