11 February 2000
Nice review of FC!!
I'm very interested in the subliminal imagery that everybody just sees to brush off. Let me tell you the images I (thought I) saw–if you could possibly confirm some of these (or point out some new ones) I'd be very grateful indeed:
1) Image of the devil giving the testicular cancer patient a hug just after support group leader stops hugging him
2) Image of a man standing in front of the photocopier while Norton is saying "a copy of a copy of a copy...)
3) When he first follows Marla outside, it looks like her face changes into that of Keith (The Prodigy) for a split second
4) The obvious one was the penis at the end just before the tiles.
Jann, Thanks! I very much appreciate your response. Fight Club was a difficult movie to write about; I had to rethink my review several times before I settled on a final version of it. Even so, there's plenty more that I could have said–including something about the subliminal images.
According to Edward Norton and David Fincher, there are several images in there. You're right about the man standing in front of a copier, and, of course, the penis at the end is more than subliminal. I am unsure what the other images are, so I forwarded your question to Spunkee, who attended a screening of Fight Club with Edward Norton, who discussed the subliminal images. Her response is as follows:
My recollection is that there were five flashes, all of Tyler (but too fast to see who it is). The ones I can recall are the xerox machine, the shot of Marla leaving, once during a group session, and one over the shoulder of the doctor who tells Norton to go to the group meetings. I can't recall the fifth, but it's there! The shot of the penis at the end is visible because it stays up for at least two frames and takes up the whole screen. The other images are small, set over other shots, and last one frame, which means they're on screen for only 1/24th of a second. Enough time to "see", but not to grasp. If that makes any sense.
Regardless of what the images are, I think the concept is thematically appropriate–brilliant, in fact–and I can't wait for the DVD. Thanks for writing.
4 May 2000
Excuse me for saying this, but I really think that your perception that Edward Norton was playing a character named "Jack" in Fight Club is wrong. At one point of the movie, we see Norton's character finding a set of books inside the abandoned house he was occupying. These books were each titled as an organ of a man named "Jack." Such as "I am Jack's Ear" or "I am Jack's Penis" and so on. They apparently chronicled the experiences of "Jack" treating his organs as individuals. Further on into the film, we find Norton calling himself "I am Jack's raging....," while narrating. In my opinion, he was just making an metaphoric description of his state of mind at that moment. Remember that the name "Jack" was used by Norton's character only while narrating. No one else called him by that name in real life, not even himself. In fact, the name of Norton's character was never made known throughout the film. My only guess to his name would be.....well, Tyler Durden. :P
I do not know why so many people think that Norton's character was named "Jack" when the end credits actually state that the character's name was simply "The Narrator."
Thanks for your comment... When I wrote the review, I had seen some other press that refered to him as Jack, so I wrote it that way, and later, when I saw the movie a second time, I realized, like you have, that he's anonymous. I decided not to go back and change the review to clarify this point, but in order to be more accurate, I put "Jack" in quotation marks the first time I cited it.
28 May 2000
I didn't see Fight Club in the theaters because it got such mixed reviews. I don't have time to see too many movies, so I try not to waste those few precious hours. Then tonight my housemates rented it.
I could kick myself.
I'm 41, which you seem to think is beyond Gen-X, but I must have been the progenitor. I grew up expecting nuclear apocalypse, never thinking I'd see 30, much less 40. I'm as cynical as they come, and my life has been as aimless and meaningless in many ways as any "slacker." So I did get Fight Club.
And of all the reviews I've read (many tonight online since seeing the film), yours is the only one that got it right. Exactly fucking right.
Oh, and you're right about the ending, too. Pure metaphor. Why is that so difficult for others to see?
My housemates are in their late teens and early twenties. They think it's a movie about fighting.
My wife is 33 and Thai. She thought it was a silly, boy flick. She wanted me to explain it to her. How do you explain something that affects you on such a visceral level?
It wasn't the best movie I've seen, even recently. Both American Beauty and Being John Malkovich were superior. But it was a damn good movie. It's just too bad so few will get it.
Look at my face. I'm a member.
28 May 2000
Thank you for your e-mail! Getting feedback like this makes it all worthwhile, especially with this review, because it was very difficult to write. I'm still dissatisfied with it, but at a certain point I had to abandon it.
I'm glad you enjoyed Fight Club. I think history will remember this film as an important one, even though it was dismissed when it was released. Same thing has happened to a lot of other films later regarded as classics. In the meantime, we have to listen to Lisa Schwartzbaum go on Ebert's show and explain that Fight Club is offensive because the Nazis also made soap out of human fat. Exactly, Lisa. It's supposed to be offensive. You're not supposed to think it's cool. Darkly comic, yes. But not cool.
Anyway, with regard to my generational arguments, if I wrote the review over again today, I would focus more on the universal themes of the film. All generations share a certain angst, particularly when its members are young. But I did write: "Xers can't claim to be the only generation to have experienced rage and frustration... against society and their elders. Fight Club is certainly not inaccessible to people over forty years old."... It's just that many people over 40 or 50 have settled into a comfortable life and forgotten what is was like to be that angry.
Thanks again for responding, and I hope you visit our site again.
11 June 2000
I am 55, I understand it, I have been there and in many respects I am still there. It makes perfect sense to me and to see it in film has been an amazing experience. I like it as well as Pulp Fiction and Popeye (my all time favorites).
Reba Jan L.
12 June 2000
Thanks for your comment. A lot of people have gotten the impression that I believe that Baby Boomers won't understand this film. That is not what I meant at all. I merely observed that the cultural references are more likely to be understood by X-ers. X-ers are not unique in experiencing angst, but there are unique events and influences that have shaped their zeitgeist, and those are portrayed in the film. Every generation has its youthful anger at the world and the status quo. Many people forget what that's like as they get older, and many of them are critics who slammed Fight Club. But some of them got it, and I know plenty of people in their 40s and 50s who enjoyed the movie. I'm glad you're one of them. Please visit us again.
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