Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fight Club (1999)

Today's film is Fight Club, based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk.  A graphic novel sequel is supposed to be out by 2015.  This movie is not just about fighting and violence at all.  It's much deeper than that.  One could write an entire thesis paper based on the many aspects of this film.  Hopefully I can touch on a few.

I am Jack's disorder
The narrator of the film  (played by Edward Norton) is affected by Dissociative Identity Disorder.  His alter ego is the reckless Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt).  After watching this again, I could see all the glimpses of Tyler in the beginning scenes.  I noticed that Tyler works nights, while the narrator works days.  That could explain why the narrator is an insomniac, because he's working multiple shifts.  The narrator asks, "Is Tyler my bad dream, or am I Tyler's?"  I see Tyler as the narrator's way of escaping from the real world of business, commercials, and materialism.  But, he can't fully let go in the beginning of the film.  That's why we see the glimpses.  Then, he sees Tyler as another person, the person he is slowly becoming.  Then, finally he sees the truth about him, that he is a separate personality.

I am Jack's Noble Truths
The basics of Buddha's teachings are known as the "Four Noble Truths".  Basically the truths revolve around suffering and how to stop it.  Suffering can be caused by the desire for material goods, something that can never be sated because there's always new stuff being advertised.  So we look at Ikea catalogs and through our Pinterest and get new ideas about what we have to have.  We let these things define us, or as Tyler says, "The things you own end up owning you".  After the Narrator loses everything, he becomes comfortable living in a dilapidated house with old furniture and having to shut the power off in the rain.  He even claims that he's "enlightened".  Fighting, and later mayhem, are his means of discovering himself.  Tyler mentions the hunter/gatherer aspect of men.  We were never meant to live a sedentary life in an office and this is his way of rebelling.

I am Jack's knowledge of weaponry.
I found it interesting how specific the gun the narrator mentioned 'someone' might bring to his office.  It's an Armalite AR-10 carbine gas-powered semi-automatic.  Most AR-10s are fully automatic, but there were some semi-automatics created for civilian use.  Armalite stopped manufacturing these weapons in 1959 and sold its rights to Colt.  Later, in 1995, Eagle Arms (which became the new Armalite Inc) bought these rights and starting making AR-10B rifles, which are not modeled after the original gun at all; but rather the AR-15 (a better designed version of the gun, imo).  Anyways, the AR-10 had its share of problems, but with modern technology, it has improved drastically.  Today, there is the AR-10B and AR-10A, which look similar but are so functionally different that they cannot use each other's magazines.  I mean, it's obvious the narrator is talking about the AR-10A, but why be so specific about the gun?  Why mention the brand name?  Because this is his Ikea-filled apartment all over again! ("Those weren't just some sticks of furniture! That was me!") The narrator is becoming more comfortable with the idea of mayhem, but has been looking up guns based on the brand.  He's still a slave to brands.  He hasn't changed yet.

Marla is the only woman in the entire film.  She's played by Helena Bonham Carter.  However, she's the same persona in all her films.  I think maybe she just wandered on set one day and they kept filming.  When I first watched this, she was the one who made me realize the narrator and Tyler were the same person.  Such as by asking who Tyler was talking to, and what did he mean by saying "us".  Through her, I realized he's the same person long before it was revealed.

Before I watched this again, I read up on different ways to make soap.  I'm trying to be more self-sufficient and use natural products.  What Tyler is using is the hot process method - so instead of leaving the soap out for 4 to 6 weeks to cure, he cooks the soap until it's done. This can take up to two hours instead of weeks.  Everything Tyler says he uses to make soap is true; I'm just not sure about the whole soap turning into nitroglycerin thing.  Every time Tyler started talking about chemical and natural ways to make explosives, I just nodded my head because I failed chemistry and have no idea what he is talking about.  That's the whole reason why I haven't tried to make soap by myself yet.  If something goes wrong I don't know how to fix it.

That's everything I can think of.  Although there are violent aspects, the film is critical of the flaws of our society.  The mass media has transformed us from hunters/gatherers/explorers into consumers.  Was destroying the financial center the right way to change things?  Not really; the government will just bail out the banks again.  I will give this film a 9/10.

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