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Posted on August 30th, 2012, by

On the famous book by Chuck Palahniuk Fight Club (1996) even more famous movie with the same name has been made by David Fincher (1999). The film, except for the ending, reflects both main idea and plot of the book, but there are some differences, which have been made during the filming. In this paper, we try to look at the story and the idea of the book and film from analytical, but not emotional point of view. I will not deal with my attitude to the idea, or ideology, which it is promoted. There will be no excitement, no criticism, only an analysis, comparison of the book and movie.

Since the film is an enough accurate interpretation of the book, we will tell their common plot. We will also stop on the differences and try to analyze the reasons for the discrepancies of the book and movie.

The main hero, Narrator, is a clerk, who suffers from sleeplessness. The doctor offers him to face real misery, to attend a support group suffering from testicular cancer, instead of drinking sleeping pills. The hero discovers his ability to cry and this way to achieve some form of emotional release of stored energy. The Narrator begins to attend other support groups, releasing his emotions through crying. There he meets another pretender, Marla Singer.

Life of the Narrator is rather monotonous, he often goes to business trips. Once during the regular business trip hero meets Tyler Durden, who makes and sells soap. When Narrator gets home, he discovers that his apartment is completely destroyed by a powerful explosion. Hero calls Tyler, and they meet at the bar. Tyler proposes Narrator to stop at his place but with one condition, the Narrator has to fight with him.

Hero obeys the strange logic of Tyler, and their meeting ends with mutual fist fight. However, both of them are satisfied with life and with each other.  Their fight attracts a crowd of interested people, this way Fight Club starts its existence.

Once Marla calls the Narrator and says that she has an overdose of sleeping pills, and he asks Tyler’s help. Tyler rescues her, and their sexual relationships start. Tyler prohibits the Narrator to talk to Marla about him. Under Tyler’s leadership fight club is gradually becoming a Project Mayhem. After the quarrel and accident Tyler disappears from the life of the Narrator. When one member of the project members is killed during a task, the Narrator tries to close the Project. Tracing Tyler’s steps, he travels around the country, but finds out that fight clubs have been initiated in every large city, and, finally, one member of the branch calls the hero Tyler Durden. He calls Marla to confirm this identity. And he realizes that Tyler is just an alter-ego of his own split personality. At this moment Tyler’s spirit appears in front of him and explains that he controls the Narrator’s body whenever he sleeps.

The narrator faints and when he wakes up he understands that Tyler intends to destroy the main credit-card companies to harm the financial networks. Being unable to defuse the bomb, the Narrator puts the gun in his mouth and shoots in the cheek in order to kill Tyler.

He doesn’t kill himself but the illusion of Tyler collapses completely.

Then according to the book the Narrator wakes up at psychiatric hospital. But employees there are members of Fight Club, who intend to get him out. The explosions haven’t happened. The ending of the book, on the one hand, is more pretentious and even humanistic, rather than the end of the film with a couple holding hands, which has a chance to start all over again. The Narrator, the same as in the film, remains alive after shooting himself in the mouth, and it seems to him that he is in heaven ad meets God. But in reality he is a patient of a psychiatric hospital, where the entire staff is members of the current fight club. And they are waiting for his return, nothing has changed.

He lost. In my opinion, this difference may be due to the fact that movie audience is more accustomed to the powerful ending. The audience likes the special effects and the director gives them. For more visual, spectacular and emotional ending, in the movie it is changed. It is spectacular and at the same time romantic.

This is how the plot looks like. As for the main idea, it is as follows. People are enslaved by material values. To become free, you need to destroy the basic foundations of society, and especially the economy. There is reason to believe that the idea of destruction has made Fight Club an entire ideology, which millions of people have tried and are trying to follow.

All in all the main difference between Fight club as a book and as a movie is that all the ideas in the book served extensively and at length, and with a noticeable malice. As a result, reading of the novel, you emphasize the social dimension, the criticism of consumer society, the concept of self-destruction. It is clear that mindlessly duplicate of these details in the film would be not useful or possible. Fincher’s movie is comparable to increasing magnifying glass through which the main Palahniuk’s ideas look more convex, and the rest are barely visible.

And message, fallen under this magnifying glass, is that such Tyler lives in every person. He, Tyler, is sitting under a veneer of management and consumer habits. You can give him freedom and follow him rejecting the values of material property, or you can fight with him, or you can keep the balance. This message is also present in the book, but with Fincher’s help it becomes fundamental. Maybe it happens because the author of the book has strict limits of time. He has to show everything in two hours, when the author of the book has a full freedom. So the director of the movie catches only the main idea and doesn’t spread time for less important moments.

In general, though Palahniuk’s novel seems to me curious, but doesn’t really impress. The movie is for sure remarkable. It doesn’t have too heavy, sarcastic tone of the book, every scene is filled with bright drive. Even jokes are the same in the book and movie, but the on-screen humor is somehow healthier.

The film is wonderfully shot, we can see careful selection of plans, inventive direction. In each scene we feel careful work, a long search for the best way to visualize.

But perhaps the main creators of the movie’s success, along with Palahniuk and Fincher is good acting of Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. Norton really looks like exhausted, unimportant, a simple Middle-class consumers in the large indifferent world.

Pitt completely reincarnated to Tyler Durden. The image is built perfectly, he has stylish disorder on the head, always impeccable clothes and tanned, muscular body. It can seem that the ideal appearance doesn’t deal with Tyler’s image-nothing ideology. However, all becomes clear when we understand who this Tyler is. He is the one whom our main hero wants to be – confident, uncompromising, cold-blooded man.

Also it is worth considering another difference between book and movie. The book is more cruel and irresponsible. For example, in the scene of one of the fights in the book the main character is so badly beaten that he drops out teeth, his cheek is torn. Though the film is full of bloody scenes, but so brutal beatings are not shown. This is due to the fact that the visual image is more impressive than the description in the text.

It is also worth mentioning that the book has appeared much earlier than the film and has managed to become a bestseller. It was even called manual for terrorists. The book accurately and correctly describes the recipes for bombs. The film gives wrong recipes on purpose. Apparently, it is because of greater social responsibility of the director.

In general, the movie Fight Club conveys the idea of the book by Chuck Palahniuk and almost completely tells its story. However, as in any film adaptation, some details are missed. To understand the hole idea, you should know both the book and the movie.

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