Category Archives: Fight Club

Where’s Waldo?….Tyler?

Tyler Durden becomes an interesting character to look out for in Fight Club. Even before we are introduced to him, we are actually unknowingly introduced to him. He makes numerous cameo appearances before actually being introduced to us. It is especially interesting to keep track of his ‘evolution’ as a figure in each of these appearances. What do these appearances signify? I saw them as subtle clues to the audience that Tyler Durden is, in fact, a figment of Jack’s imagination. But, we cannot be too sure. These appearances all occur before Jack even meets Tyler which leads me to believe that Fincher did do this to hint at the plot twist of the film.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 6.46.37 PM

#1. Tyler at the copy machine

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 4.20.51 PM

#2. Tyler in the office

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 4.21.19 PM

#3. Tyler in the meeting

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 4.22.46 PM

#4. Tyler on the street

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 4.25.49 PM

#5. Tyler in the video

Besides his cameo appearances throughout the film, we can see a progression in Tyler’s appearance from meeting #1 to our final meeting with him. We first see him as this ‘cool’, eccentric soap making guy on a plane. After progressing through the movie and after we meet Marla, we see Tyler become this male version of Marla in a sense. The way they act, dress, and portray themselves to others is ALMOST IDENTICAL. It’s genius character development in a sense that these characters have become so similar except for Tyler’s ability to care for others never meets Marla’s.

In the end, we find that Tyler Durden is not a real person. Besides his ‘cameo’ appearances throughout the movie, we are presented with other evidence that he is not real. For example, when he calls Tyler’s number from the pay phone that says that it cannot accept incoming calls. So how did Tyler call Jack on this phone, you ask? My point exactly. There is really no explanation other than the fact that he IS Tyler Durden and that the actual Tyler we are presented with in the film is not real.

Another curious detail happens in the car crash. You are led to believe that Tyler is driving the car and he is the one who crashed it into a ditch; however, when the two exit the car, you have to pay extra close attention to these details. It is clear that the two get out of the car on the opposite sides therefore implying that Jack was, in fact, driving the car. So, Jack essentially punched himself throughout the film and gave himself the chemical burn. But, just to top it off he had to crash his own car.

Honestly, I really don’t think this movie is as fantastic as everyone makes it out to be. I do understand the impressive aspects that Fincher brought to film but I am not convinced that it is better than some of my favorite movies.

Fight Club vs. Fight Club: Important Changes Between the Book and the Movie Adaptation

It’s always interesting to see what was changed and what stayed the same when a movie is based on a book. After all, the source material is essentially the same, but even the most subtle differences can change the way the story is told or even the story itself.

David Fincher’s 1999 movie “Fight Club” is based on Chuck Palahnuik’s book by the same name, which came out just three years before. The movie follows the same plot as the book, uses similar terminology (for example, all of the Fight Club and Project Mayhem rules are straight out of the book), and has the same characters. However, movie director David Fincher and screenplay writer Jim Uhls made five key changes to highlight different aspects of the story.

  1. How the narrator meets Tyler Durden: In the movie, the narrator finds himself sitting next to a flashy if fashionable man on an airplane carrying the same briefcase. Palahunik’s meeting between Tyler and the narrator could not be more different: the two meet on a nude beach, where Tyler is building a wooden structure that casts the shadow of a hand on the sand. In my opinion, Fincher and Uhls changed this meeting for several reasons. First, the airplane setting holds with the narrator’s insomnia-inducing lifestyle, while also breaking with the banal conversations he has earlier in the film, indicating that Tyler holds anti-conformist views that draw the narrator in. Additionally, Pitt’s fashion sense creates a parallel with Marla, an important motif throughout the film. Finally, the briefcase serves as a major first clue that Tyler and the narrator are in fact the same person.
  2. Marla’s suicide attempt: In both the book and the movie, Marla notices that the narrator has stopped showing up to the support groups. Wanting to get his attention, she overdoses on Xanax and calls him. In the movie, the narrator picks up the phone and listens to Marla talk for a bit before dropping the receiver, which Tyler then picks up. In the novel, the narrator never picks up the phone, Tyler does, beginning their affair. This key difference highlights the narrator’s choice not to go to Marla’s apartment and, arguably, his cowardice. It also sets up the antagonistic relationship between Tyler and the narrator over the affair with Marla, even though they are the same person: the narrator realizes that, had he gone to Marla’s place instead, he would be sleeping with her instead of Tyler.
  3. Lye burns: In the book, Marla burns herself with lye on accident. In the movie, Tyler holds the narrator’s hand and pours lye over it, holding it until the burn is deep enough to leave a scar. Tyler and the narrator’s matching scars are another clue that they are in fact the same person. The lye burns become a source of pain, like the fight club, to feel something different from the senseless modern lifestyle. (Fun fact, Brad Pitt asked his parents not to see the movie, but they insisted. They stopped watching after the chemical burn scene.)
  4. Tyler’s last planned explosion: In the book, Tyler’s final Project Mayhem endeavor is to blow up a skyscraper containing a national museum, taking himself out in the same explosion as a martyr. The bomb malfunctions because Tyler mixed paraffin in the explosives. In the movie, the targets are credit card companies. Fincher’s adaptation highlights the theme of consumerism in the story. With this explosion, Tyler wants to eliminate credit card records, and therefore credit card debt, returning everyone to a “clean slate.” This goes to the narrator’s wishes to re-create his own life, which he desperately tried to do by blowing up his apartment and starting a fight club in the first place. Unlike the book, the bombs go off, though it’s ambiguous whether the building the narrator is in blows up as well.anigif_enhanced-buzz-30101-1389371874-16
  5. The ending: In the book, the narrator blacks out after he shoots himself and wakes up in a mental hospital, convinced that he is in Heaven. The novel ends with the hospital employees revealing themselves to be Project Mayhem members, telling the narrator that they expect Tyler to come back. The movie has a much more, for lack of a better term, “Hollywood ending.” The narrator and Marla reconcile and hold hands as buildings blow up around them. The ending suggests that the narrator has finally killed the part of himself that was Tyler and is finally ready to start a new life with Marla. Conversely, the novel’s ending is cyclical, suggesting that Tyler will eventually return.


The Cacophony Society — the Real-World Project Mayhem

I was reading through a interview with Chuck Palahniuk (Author of Fight Club), and was very intrigued by a group in Portland, Oregon known as The Cacophony Society, which inspired Project Mayhem in Fight Club. The group consists of ordinary people who want to break free from the conventions of society by pulling pranks and stunts. The society has no rules/regulations, and its mission is to “make life more interesting” through “unusual experiences.” The members thrive on risk, collaborating with others, and “creating” rather than “consuming” culture. The society has chapters in major cities across the U.S.

Some of the society’s past pranks/events have included:

  • Burning a 40 ft. wooden man in the dessert on the summer equinox
  • Dressing in formal attire and having parties in underground sewage drains
  • Midnight bridge climbing
  • Painting billboards in neon colors
  • Joining PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals)


Palahniuk deemed Cacophony an integral part of his past. In another interview, he explains the friendships he formed with the members of the organization due to a shared passion for challenging identity and risking safety. He had a thirst to build rich experiences with genuine companions, as he often found himself referring to experiences with what he calls “air friends.” “Air friends” are acquaintances that you meet at work, school, etc., and your relationship with them is solely based on the fact that you occupy the same space or “air” as them for extended durations of time.

This concept mirrors the single-serving nature of society that the narrator brings up in Fight Club. The lack of meaningful relationships or compassion towards others was very prevalent in the film, shown through dry conversations between the narrator and his boss and the corrupt practices of his insurance company. The narrator obviously yearns for deeper connections with others, so he initially joins different support groups for people who share common problems. Aside from making an effort to avoid Marla, perhaps the narrator decided to leave the support groups and create Fight Club and Project Mayhem because he longed for relationships beyond his newfound “air friends.” Even though he met with the different support groups each week and interacted with the same people, he did not share anything in common with these people other than the air they were breathing. Fight Club and Project Mayhem allowed him to bond with people who shared his same passion for rebelling against society and challenging cultural norms.

Furthermore, the foundation of Cacophony was built upon “creating culture” through “unique experiences,” which reflects Fight Club’s mission of opposing the consumer-driven lifestyle that encompassed society. It is very appropriate that the fictional organization in the movie was based off of Cacophony, because there is no better way to rebel against society than to create a new society with opposing values and practices. Additionally, the materialism depicted in the film left many of the characters numb, and incorporating extreme actions in the movie similar to Cacophony’s outrageous and dangerous ceremonies allowed the characters to “challenge their identities” and truly feel raw fear and adrenaline.

I would recommend checking out the clips below for more information about The Cacophony Society and Chuck Palahniuk. (Skip to 19:50 of the second clip to see the interview with Palahniuk).

**Skip to 19:50 in the clip below**


  • The clips above

Fight Club’s commentary on ideology

Every time I watch Fight Club, I can’t help but sense it is making an astute commentary on ideologies in general. It is not talking specifically about politics, or religion, or gender, or anything. All of these ideas can be equally applied and are referenced throughout the film.

Fight Club ultimately seems to be championing individualism. People who become trapped in ideology in this film end up being cast in an unfavorable light. The film does not so much hate all ideology, but instead suggests using ideas in mediation rather then being extreme on either side.

The narrator’s Dissociative Identity Disorder is a manifestation of his pull towards two opposite but extreme ideologies. On one side, he can be part of the system of consumerism without any identity or appreciation of self, but when he is pulled towards Tyler’s side, it seems to originally start with good intentions of being an individual and experiencing real pain and rejecting consumerism, but it soon lands in the same pitfalls as the society the narrator was originally trying to escape; everyone is stripped of their identity and blindly follows orders, and instead of living their own fulfilling lives, just wreak havoc on society. The film does not present either side of the coin as reasonable. The narrator’s ultimate struggle is to become a true individual by not adhering to any ideology, but following his own path. Fight Club seems to be an existentialist film in a way then.

These ideas of adhering to ideology without individualism can be easily applied to politics and religion, and the film makes these connections. The society that Tyler comes to represent becomes a clear analogue to fascism. Tyler is also viewed as a God figure which brings up religion, and their are other scenes in the film that conjure religion like when Tyler gives the narrator a chemical burn, the narrator tries to use Buddhist-like meditation to escape the pain, but Tyler urges him to receive and fully experience the pain.

Fight Club: Why the movie is better than the book

I read Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club a couple of years ago but had never seen the film until we watched it in class.  I was immediately much more enthralled in the story and the characters than I had been when reading the book.  This got me thinking, because I tend to think that the book version of a story is better than the movie version, why was Fight Club better as a film than as a novel?

For one, the story was able to flow so much better visually than in print.  The novel was rather disjointed and at times I thought it was hard to follow.  Perhaps, this can be traced to the fact that Palahniuk said he had not planned out to have two alter-egos of the same person portrayed as the same character.  Since the film makers knew this going into the film, they were able to drop more subtle clues that viewers can pick up subconsciously or consciously on.  This makes the ultimate revelation that Tyler and the narrator are the same person more believable.  It also allows for people to rewatch the film over and over again to reanalyze the clues leading up to the reveal.

fight club 2

Also in relation to the convoluted writing in the book, is the film’s decision to romanticize the movie.  In the book, Marla’s character wasn’t as well developed and the relationship between Marla and the narrator was not as emphasized as in the movie.  I think by shifting the focus to make the film more romantic, allowed for greater depth to be added.  It brought together the film better, especially at the end, with the idea that the “man has reached a point where he can commit to a woman”.  I think that Marla also helped to add to the psyche of the narrator, especially through Fincher’s decisions such as having Tyler styled similarly as Marla and Marla replacing the penguin in the narrator’s psyche.

fight club 3

The addition of Marla as more of a significant character, also lead to the changing of the ending.  In the novel, the narrator shoots himself to get rid of Tyler and ends up in an asylum that he believes is heaven and hints at the fact that Project Mayhem will continue.  This is in sharp contrast to the film’s ending that shows the buildings collapsing and the narrator returning to sanity and getting to be with Marla.  This shift in endings brings the story to a close better, and reflects the romanticizing of the story and brings together a better close to the narrator’s storyline.

fight club 1 fight club 4

Finally, I simply think that the visual media allowed for the story’s anti-consumer culture message to be conveyed better.  Through Fincher’s direction, different logos and aspects of consumer culture were better highlighted than simply stating them in the novel.  Even subtle choices, such as in the scene when Fincher shoots from the inside of the fridge, are used to show how people’s lives (especially aimed at men) are driven by the consumer needs and other basic needs are overlooked.

Overall, I enjoyed Fight Club better as a film rather than as a book.  I wonder if someone who had seen the movie first and then read the book would find similar issues as I did, or if I was more biased by reading the book first.  In all, I believe that through Fincher’s direction Fight Club was able to portray its messages better in film version.

Fight Club and Three

There were a lot of interesting things going on in Fight Club, but my favorite aspect was definitely the twist that Tyler and the narrator were the same person. I’ll admit I didn’t see it coming, though in hindsight there were a lot of clues (having the same suitcase, the fact that Marla seemed very offended when the narrator asked her why she was there, etc.) It reminded me very strongly of a book I read called Three by Ted Dekker. I’ll attempt to describe the book from memory, so the details may be way off, but basically the main character has three personalities (hence the title). One is his regular self, one is his female childhood friend-turned-love-interest named Sam, and one is a crazy guy who blows stuff up and kills people. Sounds famliar already, right? Obviously we don’t know that they are the same until near the end of the novel, for maximum dramatic effect. In this novel, the main character’s trauma stems from his parents, particularly his mother who neglected him and I think had some hoarder issues. Like in Fight Club, the “evil” persona mutilates his own body in some way. For Tyler, this meant dumping acid on his hand. For the protagonist in Three, this meant putting ice cubes in his eyeballs. When I read this book years ago I thought it was incredibly original, but now I’m skeptical that the book just ripped off Fight Club.

There is one noticeable difference though, and that is the love interest. The protagonist of Three dreamt up Sam as his childhood friend, which shows that his mental illness started at an early age. In fact, Sam is the first of his three personalities to realize that they are all the same person and coaxes his “true” personality to the realization. We discussed the possibility that Marla is another of Fight Club’s narrator’s personalities. I actually did consider this, in part because of Three and also because Marla seemed too eccentric and appeared so suddenly in the narrator’s life. This would definitely be an interesting possibility, though I don’t know what that would do to the message of the movie. In any case, I guess that my point is that if you liked Fight Club you will enjoy Three as well. I already spoiled the whole thing, but it’s still a thrilling read and you can look for the clues that they are the same person throughout the book.

Jared Leto: The Master of Deceased and Disfigured Characters

Though many know him as the founder and lead singer of the band 30 Seconds to Mars or the new Joker in Suicide Squad, Jared Leto is actually an accomplished actor, winning an Academy Award in 2014 for his supporting role in Dallas Buyers Club. Throughout his twenty year film career, Leto has also been shown to have strong supporting and leading roles in critically acclaimed films. However, upon further investigation of Leto’s filmography, I discovered and interesting pattern- his character almost always ends up dying or badly disfigured in the film. While this pattern is probably a coincidence, here are 10 films (out of the 21 released films he has acted in) where Jared Leto’s character meets a gruesome end.

  1. Switchback (1997)
    • Character: A hitchhiker
    • Fate: Unfortunately, his hitchhiker gets a ride from the serial killer of the film and is unfortunately, stabbed to death.
  2. Thin Red Line (1998)
    • Character: Second lieutenant in a WWII movie
    • Fate: One of the first men killed in battle.
  3. Fight Club (1999)
    • Character: Angelface (one of the space monkeys in Project Mayhem)
    • Fate: Beaten to a bloody pulp by the narrator during a fight. He lives through the ordeal, but his face is extremely disfigured and grotesque.
  4. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
    • Character: Harry, a young adult addicted to heroin.
    • Fate: While in prison, his left arm becomes increasingly infected due to daily heroin injections. Though he is transferred to a hospital, it is too late and his left arm must be amputated.
  5. American Psycho (2000)
    • Character: Patrick Bateman’s (Christian Bale) co-worker.
    • Fate: Hacked to death with an ax by Patrick because “he had a better business card”.
  6. Panic Room (2002)
    • Character: a burglar.
    • Fate: Lit on fire by his own hostages, then shot in the head by his own henchman.
  7. Alexander (2004)
    • Character: Hephaestion, Alexander the Great’s lover.
    • Fate: Died from mysterious illness, presumed to be caused by Alexander’s wife poisoning him.
  8. Lord of War (2005)
    • Character: Brother and partner to Yuri (Nicholas Cage), an arms dealer.
    • Fate: Tries to convince his brother to not finish a deal, is gunned down by soldiers.
  9. Lonelyhearts (2006)
    • Character: A con-man who robs wealthy, aristocratic ladies and kills them.
    • Fate: Eventually arrested and dies by electric chair for his crimes.
  10. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
    • Character: Rayon, a HIV positive, trans-woman who helps Ron ( Matthew McConaughey) sell treatments to other infected individuals.
    • Fate: Dies from HIV.

Though morbid endings of Leto’s characters was the focus of this post, one can also notice the variety in his performances, portraying unique and different characters throughout his twenty year film career. While his chameleon ability is admirable, his supporting screen appearances are limited by the likelihood of morbidity in his characters’ fates. No wonder Leto does not liking watching his films, his happy endings are few and far between.

He Was Tyler Durden THE WHOLE TIME

love Fight Club. It’s the only movie that we’re going to watch in this class that I’ve seen before, and it’s not like I’ve seen it once and then forgotten about it. I watch Fight Club maybe around once a year and the jokes still make me laugh and the gruesome scenes are still just right to make me cringe. It’s a seriously great movie.

One of the things I like about the movie the most is that once you’ve seen it, the movie actually becomes more fun to watch. That’s because Fight Club was so good at laying foundation that the narrator was actually Tyler Durden, and it’s so easy to miss and overlook. And I mean, sure there’s the obvious stuff like “hey we have the same briefcase” when they’re on the plane. But there’s also the VERY subtle stuff.

I’ll start with the craziest way they said that Tyler Durden was fake. Remember right after the apartment exploded, and the Narrator called Tyler, but he screens his calls and calls the payphone back? There’s a shot where they zoom in on the phone to show the BWAAHHHH aspect of the phone calling back. The ending of the movie was right there the whole time. See below.

The phone can’t take incoming calls. Clearly this is all in the narrator’s head, and we’ve barely even seen Tyler Durden.

But even BEFORE Tyler shows up, hes’ already in the movie. And you might not even have noticed it. The movie has a few different shots where he shows up for a split second. This video has all of those shots slowed down because they’re literally blink-and-you-miss-it. Even i missed one of those shots watching it on Monday, and I knew where it was going to happen.

Guess what, we’re going to go even earlier in the movie to find the next one. Remember when the narrator was in the hotel room talking about his life, and the commercial for the hotel said “WELCOME!”?

25 Things You Didn't Know About The Movie "Fight Club"

Yep. Tyler Durden. He was there the entire time.

I could write about these subtle hints that Tyler is a figment of the Narrator’s imagination all day. And I will. Let’s keep going with smaller ones:

In the scene where the Narrator fake fights his boss, he says that he was reminded of his first fight with Tyler. Why? Because that fight was just him beating himself up.

When the Narrator and Tyler are discussing fighting different people and get on the bus, the Narrator pays only one fare. You might have thought Tyler was being rebellious and not paying but nope.

In all the scenes where Tyler is driving, and it shows the Narrator getting out of the car, it ALWAYS shows the Narrator getting out of the driver’s side.

It’s little stuff like this that makes it such a good movie. You could keep watching it over and over to catch these small details and it just enhances the enjoyment of the movie. Another Fincher movie that I’d recommend if you enjoyed the mind-blowingness of Fight Club is The Game. When I watched it for the first time, I could not tell you where I thought the story was going because Fincher is that good at laying out details for either side. Would recommend.


Today’s blog’s music was the new Explosions In The Sky record, The Wilderness. Listen to it and love it.