The following sample essay on Cornflower Blue Tie Fight Club discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
“The other people who were camping near us wanted to drink and party all night long, and I tried to get them to shut up one night, and they literally beat the crap out of me. I went back to work just so bashed, and horrible looking. People didn’t ask me what had happened. I think they were afraid of the answer. I realised that if you looked bad enough, people would not want to know what you did in your spare time. They don’t want to know the bad things about you. And the key was to look so bad that no one would ever, ever ask. And that was the idea behind Fight Club.” (1)
This realisation that humanity does not want to know about the dark side of life is central to the narrative of Fight Club. It focuses on how society has become numb; relying on physical possessions to define them (“I’d flip through catalogues and wonder what kind of dining set defined me as a person”) rather than accepting yourself as being more than what you own, your career and how much money you have in your wallet, a notion which one of the central characters, Tyler Durden, reminds his followers of regularly. The film adaptation of Fight Club remains loyal to the ideas presented in the novel, with a few somewhat hidden visual clues to highlight the message within the story.
Fight Club Subliminal Images
Our Narrator is an insomniac, working for a big corporate car company evaluating accidents, and whether it would be cost effective to warrant a recall. To counter-attack these dehumanising factors he joins numerous therapy groups and soon finds himself addicted, that is, until another “tourist” names Marla joins the self-help group scene and he finds himself unable to open up, and his insomnia begins again. It is soon after meeting Marla that the Narrator meets Tyler Durden, an enigmatic soap manufacturer who embodies all the qualities he wishes he had – self-fulfilment, perfect looks and who isn’t a slave to his possessions. Together they form ‘Fight Club’, a way to feel something in an otherwise numb life which consists of the same thing day in and day out.
When Marla overdoses on Xanax, she is saved by Tyler and the two embark upon a sexual relationship. Tyler tells the narrator that he must never talk about him with Marla. Under Tyler’s leadership, the fight club soon spirals into a nihilist terrorist organisation named “Project Mayhem,” which commits increasingly destructive acts of anti-capitalist vandalism in the city. After an argument, Tyler disappears from the narrator’s life, and following a member of Project Mayhem dying, the Narrator attempts to trace Tyler’s steps, discovering that clubs have been set up in all major cities. One of the participants identifies him as Tyler Durden, which a phone call to Marla confirms, and he realises that Tyler is an alter ego of his own split personality. Tyler appears before him and explains that he controls his body whenever he is asleep.
The opening scene of the film shows the main character, an unnamed twenty-something male, being held at gunpoint. The succeeding description, accompanied by a visual tour through the corporate building which is about to be blown up, immediately engages the viewer, as not only does the visual style appear edgy, but intrigue about how he got himself in such a situation is aroused.
One of the main gripes in Fight Club is the consumerist society, and at its heart is a dark parody about consumerist discontent. The film engages with this idea by regularly not showing faces and focussing on other aspects to identify them. The first instance this is shown is when the unnamed central character, unnamed because it could be any twenty-something male, is approached by his boss. He immediately focuses on his tie, identifying the day as Tuesday because his boss was wearing his “cornflower blue tie”. We then get a glimpse of how our main character has fallen victim to the Ikea trend, the camera pans around his apartment with the catalogue descriptions of each item he owns appearing next to it. The scene finishes with a comment about how “we used to read pornography, now it was the Horchow collection” which fully shows how consumerism has become the new form of self- gratification. It’s only when his apartment is blown up that he begins his journey to total freedom, his entire identity was enclosed in that apartment, and now that it has gone he begins again – “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
Director, David Fincher, employs an impressive array of techniques to tell the story, combining traditional cinematic conventions (voice over’s, breaking the fourth wall to address the audience directly) with arresting CGI sequences and subliminal ‘blips’. For example – before we are formally introduced to Tyler, he flashes onto the screen at what may seem like random moments, but are in fact key to unravelling the mystery of a confused identity. Of course, we don’t realise the genius behind this until after the film. The main thing to remember whilst watching this film is that nothing has been put in there by mistake; every minute detail serves its purpose. From this aspect Fight Club succeeds in every way, and it also succeeds as being one of the rare film adaptations which is better than the book. The opening credits of Fight Club shows how the film incorporated modern CGI sequences to its advantage; a special effects sequence which quite literally takes us into the Narrator’s brain, which starts from a tiny glow deep within his brain-cells, through his mouth and up the barrel of the gun. The clean look of the CGI contrasts greatly with the general visual texture of the film. There are many negative images in the film (bags of human fat splitting open, broken teeth and crackling electrical cable in water) which all adds to the effect.
The most discussed, and criticised, aspects of Fight Club is its violent content. ‘Fight Club’ was one of the first openly violent films to be released after Columbine High School massacre in April of 1999, and for this reason it generated a lot of critical attention about its attitude and graphic depiction towards violence, with voices being raised claiming that the movie glorifies violence by portraying it as something positive. (2) No one can deny that Fight Club is a violent movie; there are in fact some scenes which are so brutal that some viewers will turn away. But there is purpose behind showing this bloody battering, and it’s to make a point about the bestial nature of man and what can happen when the numbing effects of day-to-day drudgery cause people to go a little crazy. As the film evolves, he methodically reveals each new turn in an ever-deepening spiral that descends into darkness and madness.
The reason Fight Club is such a memorable film, lies in its ability to reach out to modern society, of a certain age at least, and engage and relate to them in someway. The characters acknowledge at more than one point that they’re in a film. The Narrator makes sarcastic voice-over remarks, and is constantly rewinding and fast-forwarding through his story. After the Narrator has giving us the whole story, we return to the comment “this is about where we left off,” and Tyler’s response, “Oh. Flashback humour.” Fight Club takes on everything that cinema can do but has been too afraid to. Maybe it is the fights that stand out the most. In an era of ‘fake’ fight scenes, beefed up with special effects, the fight scenes in Fight Club have a somewhat narcotic effect; with their documentary feel it’s much more realistic. The lack of music only adds to the atmosphere, with the only memorable music being at the very end of the film – appropriately named “Where Is My Mind?”
Fight Club is a daring film, forcing you to thing outside the box with how a Hollywood film should look and feel. It also forces the audience to question their lives, in modern times most people can not help but be caught up in the consumerist rat-race.