Breaking The First Rule

Ericka Frye

Image retrieved from Google

Fight Club is an action satire 1999 film directed by David Fincher and is based on a 1996 novel written by Chuck Palahniuk.

The film stars Academy Award Nominee Brad Pitt, Academy Award Nominee Helena Bonham Carter, and Academy Award Nominee Edwan Norton.

The film was considered a disappointment at the box office, only earning $40 million dollars more than what they have spent. It became controversial, with it being praised for the acting and theme but being outweighed by the violence it possessed. But after it’s successful DVD release, the film Fight Club grew to have a cult following.

The film was nominated for Best Sound Editing in the 2000 Academy Awards. The Online Film Critics Society listed Fight Club as one of the top ten films for 1999 and nominated the film for having the Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Actor, Best Director, and for Best Film. Helena Bonham Carter, who played as Edwan Norton’s character’s love interest, won the Best British Actress during the 2000 Empire Award.

Image retrieved from Google.

The film starts with the unnamed Narrator who develops severe insomnia. He stumbles across a support group for patients of testicular cancer and poses as a sufferer of the illness too. Later that night, he finally gets to sleep. He enjoys attending the testicular cancer support groups and attends other support groups for other illnesses which he does not have. After a number of sessions, he realizes that another person has been doing the same thing he has and is bothered by her because it reminds him of his dishonesty. They later talk and agree to split the support groups fairly and give each other their contact details.

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During a flight home, he converses with soap salesman Tyler Durden. When the Narrator arrives home he is surprised to find out that his apartment had been destroyed due to an explosion. He debates whether he should contact Marla, the woman he met during the support groups, or the soap salesman Tyler, he chooses the later. After getting along in a bar, they go outside and Tyler asks the Narrator to punch him which resulted to them fistfighting.

Image retrieved from Google.

Due to having no where else to live, the Narrator accepts Tyler’s invitation to live in with him, which his home is situated in an industrial wasteland. They return to the parking lot on some nights to start fist fighting which later attracted a growing attention of men. These fistfights are then moved to a bar’s basement where Fight Club was born, a ‘support group’ for men to meet and beat each other up with consent as some sort of release.

Image retrieved from Google.

The Narrator receives a phone call from Marla saying that she has overdosed on pills and desperately needs help, he ignores her but Tyler goes and helps her. Both Marla and Tyler enter a sexual relationship and Tyler tells the Narrator not to talk to Marla about him. Later, the Narrator goes to work to quit his jobs and also threatens his boss.

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Fight clubs have moved and grown in different parts of the country. Tyler starts Project Mayhem without the Narrator’s knowledge. The members of Project Mayhem become involved in violent acts which the Narrator does not approve off and is starting to bother him. He talks to Tyler about him feeling left out of the circle and an angry Tyler leaves the house. When he leaves and the Narrator is in deep thought, he realizes that Tyler was behind the explosion at his apartment.

One of the members of Project Mayhem gets killed due to the police’s efforts, the Narrator personally tries to stop the group. He finds his way to Tyler who has left paper trails. In one of the city he goes to to find Tyler, a Project Mayhem member who he is not familiar to him greets him as Tyler. Surprised and dumbfounded, the Narrator phones Marla and she tells him that she believes in the fact that he is Tyler. Tyler, out of nowhere, appears in the Narrator’s room and explains to him that he is a result of the Narrator’s dissociated personality disorder. The Narrator would become Tyler when he was sleeping.

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When the Narrator returns to Tyler’s home he finds his plans of trying to erase all debt by exploding building that have credit records. He warns Marla that she is in danger and apologizes to her but she admits to being tired of his conflicting behaviour. The Narrator calls the police to warn them but they belong to the Project Mayhem group. In an attempt to stop the explosives, he disarms one but gets caught by Tyler and is tied to a chair and held at gunpoint. Finally, the Narrator realizes that him and Tyler are the same person and that he is in control. He points the gun to his own mouth and shoots it through his cheek which causes Tyler to collapse with the bullet going through his head. He disappears. Marla is brought to the building by Project Mayhem members and both hold hands as they watch buildings explode and collapse.

The film Fight Club tells the story of an apolitical subject. In their theory, Comolli and Narboni noted that ideology is a product of a system and that all films are political. The first task that filmmakers must set in creating films is to make sure they depict reality well. Fight Club’s structure and form have turned away from the traditional way the audience can depict reality.

We can apply Karl Marx’s theory to the film. All men who feel like they have been shunned by society due to not being ideal, by working too hard, are not seen to be as equals to other men, men who feel oppressed join the Fight Club to bring themselves closer to an economic equality.

Louis Giannetti (2008) said that ideology is a set of rules or guidelines that people should follow to be accepted in their society. The Fight Club represent two very extreme characters, the Narrator who is your everyday Joe–goes to work at a corporate job, follows the rules, but ends up being bored with his routine life and everything changes once he suffers from insomnia and meets Tyler. Tyler brings out the bad side of the Narrator through starting the fight club. They end up going against society and bringing havoc to it through Tyler’s new group Project Mayhem.

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The film challenges ideas such as the idea of masculinity and consumer culture. It goes against everything Hollywood has stood (and is) standing for.


  • Giannetti, L. D., & Leach, J. (2008). Understanding movies. Toronto: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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