Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Fight Club (1999)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Fight Club (1999)

In David Fincher's enigmatic, psychological thriller - based upon Chuck Palahniuk's novel and scripted by Jim Uhls:

  • the audacious opening 90-seconds titles or credits sequence - a reversed pull-back shot (from the "Fear Center" of the protagonist's brain backward alongside various motor neurons and finally exiting a skin pore, finding the fearful, wide-eyed main character with a gun barrel shoved down his mouth)
  • the opening voice-over conversation during a confounding scene in which the film's two main characters were confronting each other. The "Narrator"/"Jack" (Edward Norton) was being held at gunpoint (the gun was in his mouth!) by Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), during a count-down to "Ground zero" -- the demolition of twelve corporate buildings (with credit card company records) by an anti-corporate, anti-consumer, and anti-capitalistic movement known as "Project Mayhem" (and its Demolition Committee) - to theoretically elminate debt and start fresh. Tyler Durden threatened the destruction unless the "Narrator" shot himself:

    Narrator: (voice-over) People are always asking me if I know Tyler Durden.
    Tyler: Three minutes. This is it. Ground zero. Would you like to say a few words to mark the occasion?
    Narrator: (voice-over) With a gun barrel between your teeth, you speak only in vowels. (speaking) I can't think of anything... (voice-over) For a second, I totally forget about Tyler's whole controlled demolition thing and l wonder how clean that gun is.
    Tyler: It's getting exciting now.
    Narrator: (voice-over) That old saying, how you always hurt the one you love. Well, it works both ways.

  • the suicidal fantasy scene of the Narrator imagining a plane wreck to end his life, expressed in his voice-over: "Every time the plane banked too sharply on takeoff or landing, I prayed for a crash or a midair collision. Anything. Life insurance pays off triple if you die on a business trip"
  • the night scene in which nihilistic, macho Paper Street Soap Co. salesman and part-time film projectionist Tyler Durden urged yuppie "Ikea Boy", insomniac, bored white-collar office worker "Jack"/Narrator to fight him in the parking lot of Lou's Tavern: ("Come on. Do me this one favor....Why? I don't know why. I don't know. Never been in a fight. You?...How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight! I don't wanna die without any scars. Just come on. Hit me, before I lose my nerve....So go crazy! Let 'er rip....who gives a s--t? No-one's watching. What do you care?"); when "Jack" struck Tyler in the ear, he responded: ("That was perfect. It really hurts. Hit me again")
  • the sequence of charismatic cult leader Tyler Durden's statement of the club's rules and the concept of 'Fight Club': "You do not talk about Fight Club" and the many bare-fisted, brutal fights in dark underground basements: "Gentlemen, welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club! Third rule of Fight Club: if someone yells 'stop!', goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: no shirts, no shoes. Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule: if this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight..."
  • the many one-frame subliminal blips - all cameos of Tyler Durden in the film (i.e., in the hallway of a doctor's office, in the testicular cancer support group meeting, in the Narrator's office near photo-copier, and in an alley as girlfriend Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) departed); the idea of subliminal content in the film was telegraphed earlier, when the Narrator explained why Tyler worked as a projectionist: "Because it affords him other interesting opportunities." Tyler: "Like splicing a single frame of pornography into a family film." Narrator: "So when the snooty cat and the courageous dog with the celebrity voices meet for the first time in reel 3, that's when you'll catch a flash of Tyler's contribution to the film. Nobody knows that they saw it but they did." Tyler: "Nice, big cock" - [Note: This reference paid homage to Ingmar Bergman's Persona (1966, Swe.) in which a random image of an erect penis was spliced into the projected film.]
Some of the Subliminal and Subconscious
Single-Frame Images of Tyler
  • the scene of Tyler Durden, a soap manufacturer, sprinkling powdered lye on the "Narrator's" hand - while teaching him a lesson: "This is a chemical burn. It'll hurt more than you've been burned before, and you'll have a scar....Stay with the pain, don't shut this out...The first soap was made from the ashes of heroes, like the first monkey shot into space. Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing....This is your pain, this is your burning hand. It's right here!"; Tyler delivered his final conclusion: "It's only after we lost everything that we are free to do anything - Congratulations. You're one step closer to hitting the bottom"
  • the scene in which the threatening Narrator/"Jack", after being fired, suggested an alternative: ("I have a better solution. Keep me on the payroll as an outside consultant. In exchange for my salary, my job will be never to tell people these things that I know. I don't even have to come into the office. I can do this job from home"); and then when security was being called, "Jack" beat himself up - to make it look like he was being assaulted - in front of his astonished regional manager/boss Richard Chesler (Zach Grenier): ("I am Jack's smirking revenge!...Under and behind and inside everything this man took for granted, something horrible had been growing, and right then, at our most excellent moment together...") - Chesler was framed for hitting him when security arrived at the perfect moment
  • the 'twist' ending, in which "Jack" - in a confrontational conversation with himself (and with Tyler) in his hotel room realized that he was one and the same with Durden - a split personality: ("Why do people think that I'm you? Answer me!...Answer me. Why do people think that I'm you?......Because we're the same person! We are the all-singing, all-dancing crap"); 'Tyler' explained the schizoid phenomenon: ("You were looking for a way to change your life. You could not do this on your own. All the ways that you wish you could be, that's me. I look like you wanna look, I f--k like you wanna f--k. I am smart, capable and, most importantly, I'm free in all the ways that you are not...People do it every day. They talk to themselves. They see themselves as they'd like to be. They don't have the courage you have to just run with it. Naturally, you're still wrestling with it, so sometimes you're still you...Other times, you imagine yourself watching me...Little by little, you're just letting yourself become Tyler Durden")
"Narrator" Shooting Himself in Conclusion
And Watching Destruction with Marla
  • the explosive conclusion, when Tyler threatened to blow up a dozen buildings of various major credit card companies (as part of "Project Mayhem") and couldn't be subdued by the "Narrator." The only way the "Narrator" could destroy, stop or kill "Durden" in his mind was by shooting himself in the jaw/face. He fired the gun through his head - to stop the mental projections of Tyler Durden; he barely survived his own 'enlightenment' - and afterwards, he witnessed the destruction of various skyscrapers with girlfriend Marla Singer at his side as he told her: "You met me at a very strange time in my life"

The Opening Voice-Over (and Ending)

Insomniac "Narrator"
(Edward Norton)

Fantasy Plane-Crash

Tyler Durden's (Brad Pitt) Business Card

Tyler to Narrator: "Just come on, Hit me..."

"Gentlemen. Welcome to Fight Club"

Tyler's Porno Film Splices

Tyler: "This is a chemical burn"

Jack Beating Himself Up After Being Fired

Hotel Room Confrontational Revelation: "Jack"/The Narrator = "Tyler Durden"
("All the ways that you wish you could be, that's me!")


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