David Fincher's controversial 1999 masterpiece, Fight Club - based on a novel by Chuck Palanhnuik - taught us some important lessons in life and cinema. It introduced a whole new generation to Nietzschian nihilism and other dark philosophies.

Here are the five most important things Fight Club taught us.

5. Transgressive Fiction Is Awesome

Transgressive fiction, when summed up, is a type of stylized fiction that breaks traditional narratives by creating unconventional, loathsome and villainous protagonists. Basically, transgressive fiction often means that we're supposed to cheer for someone who would normally be considered a "bad guy". It also means that the person we're supposed to be rooting for might not ever achieve any of his goals, but rather fail miserably at his objectives. Transgressive fiction usually involves a protagonist who challenges our ideas of "normal".

Transgressive fiction put to film means that ordinary audiences will almost always leave the theatre confused, angry or unsatisfied. But, people who appreciate non-traditional Hollywood narratives will always leave the theatre thoroughly satisfied. David Fincher's 1999 classic introduced a new generation to a whole new style of story-telling.....and it was awesome.

4. You Aren't A Beautiful And Unique Snowflake

Fight Club, or more importantly, Tyler Durden, taught us that we are all a part of the same compost heap.  We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world and it's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.

Fight Club's nihilistic, anti-consumerist message struck a cord with a new generation of industrial rock teens and moviegoers. The original novel dipped into the philosophies of Nietzsche to paint a dark alter-ego for the story's passive aggressive protagonist. The film took direct shots at corporations and consumerism by criticizing Swedish furniture and society's obsession with material possessions. It was through nihilistic self loathing and physical pain that the film's protagonist was able to overcome the barriers to happiness in his stale, unfulfilling life.
3. Life Imitates Fiction

After the release of Fight Club, imitation fight clubs began emerging across the United States and Europe. Angsty teenagers and adults gathered in basements and rundown warehouses to mimic the film's secret society of fighters. The fictitious club's ideologies and philosophies also began to take root within fight clubs and newly formed secret clubs across America.

Oliver Stone's satirical classic, Natural Born Killers, was released with the same affect and resulted in similar copycat acts of violence.

One group of vandals were arrested in 2001 after replicating the Fight Club's giant happy-face on public buildings and some corporate headquarters. Police crackdowns on illegal fight clubs started in 2001 and ended with nearly 50 separate clubs being shut down by 2003.

2. Twists Can Be Infuriating

Fight Club's ending left audiences angry and disappointed. Although the film was generally well received by critics, it garnered backlash from some well known critics and moviegoers following its release. The film's biggest point of contention was the revelation of the protagonist's imaginary alter ego, Tyler Durden.

For most fans of the film, it's upon the second viewing that the film's twist becomes most appreciated. It' during this second viewing that fans realize how obvious David Fincher had made Tyler Durden's non-existence. Subtle hints and easter eggs throughout the movie make it obvious early on that Tyler Durden is only a figment of the protagonist's imagination.

Fight Club was one of the films to spawn a wave of clever twists and unhappy endings that would lead Hollywood into the new millennium.

1. David Fincher Is A Revolutionary

Fight Club was praised for its cinematography techniques, music score and visual effects. Not only was Fight Club a dark, moody success like Seven, the film broke grounds in story-telling and film.

The film's opening sequence used state-of-the-art computer technology (for 1999) to take the audience through the protagonist's brain, showing us neurons and brain cells lighting up and firing. Much of the same was used to show the city's destruction in the film's closing scene.

Fincher also broke ground by hiring the Dust Brothers to do the film's score.

By taking a novel that was a cult classic, David Fincher re-shaped the way Hollywood was making films in the 1990s. He gave us a transgressive, roundly debated, beautifully shot masterpiece that helped pick Brad Pitt back up after the failure of Meet Joe Black.  From there, Fincher went on to bring us more classics like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network  and House Of Cards.
   September 2016 | Commodus

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