Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fight Club (1999, David Fincher)

What is lost in the discussion about David Fincher’s mind blowing film is that Fincher successfully adapts a book not only about disgruntled youth, but also one that covers terrorist and anarchist beliefs. Without revealing too much, I note that this aspect of the film as being its most interesting. Certainly other films made before and after have criticized and rebuked the vapid idiotic consumerist culture that seems to be the dark and true side of the USA. Yet few have managed to articulate with such frightening, kinetic and member able force that satiric and angry vision.

What makes this work without the whole thing collapsing like a house of cards is Fincher’s steady commitment to the film’s strange focus and vision. Despite appearing to fly off the train tracks, never once does Fight Club appear to come unhinged, cloy, boring or pretentious, feeding off its own imaginary self-importance. This is important if only because the film could have just as easily ended up a bloated piece of self-righteous bullshit. Instead, it manages to transcend ordinary boundaries of Hollywood narrative, successfully utilizing every bit of insanity necessary to make magic and meaning out of the mundane.

Finally the terrorist angle is fascinating because the movie does not condemn terrorism, but instead presents it as a means to wake the masses up; although only one person is shown dying from its results, which indicates that this is more along the lines of eco-terrorism than the Osama and Timothy McVeigh variety. By showing just how many as so easily enraptured and in awe of a message that ends up appealing to almost everyone-the middle class, the working poor, etc-we witness how the half terrorist, half anarchist message so strongly resonates with people. Through the brain washing “Space Monkey” sequences we are also shown the group mentality, and how these people exchange one way of conformity for another, only one that is more loose and demanding less responsibility.

What we have here is not just a condemnation of consumerism and capitalism, but also the celebration of a new kind of revolution that only Karl Marx could have possibly dreamed of. “Our war is a spiritual war,” holds true in this sense, as the characters in the film belief in, instigate and become part of that war. Anyone who dismisses or sees this film as promoting violence or being too shallow in its ideas is either wrong or missing the point.

Fight Club is a great, masterful film simply for articulating and visualizing a world where the rich’s nightmare of the working class violently rising up in vast numbers is starkly realized. Considering that the theory of class conflict in today’s modern world is still valid, added in with the lessons of history, it is not too far fetched to imagine our timid version of class conflict blossoming into something far more violent. And ushering in an explosive and apocalyptic wave of change, for better or for worse, with worse being the most likely possibility. 100

Editors Note: This review in no way shape or form condones or supports terrorism. Sure I've heard the phrase "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," but terrorism usually results in the killing of innocent people. Which I believe is morally wrong.

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