What Many People Missed in Fight Club

Fight Club was an unexpected spectacle from 1999. The direction by David Fincher is top notch and Edward Norton and Brad Pitt form an extremely memorable screen duo. Norton as the typical working stiff addicted to buying stuff he doesn’t need and Pitt as his uber cool and revolutionary counterpart.

SPOILERS: If you haven’t seen Fight Club, and you definitely should see it, stop reading NOW and enjoy the fucking MOVIE.

Towards the end of Fight Club, we discover that Norton’s character and Pitt (Tyler Durden) are actually the same person. Norton – called the narrator – ‘invented’ Durden in his mind to help him change and become the man he really desired to be. In the movie, at times he is seeing Tyler as a separate person and actually fights him (and thus himself) which leads to the start of the revolutionary Fight Club movement. At other times he is still his self-doubting self and again at other times he is fully Tyler Durden (which as an audience we don’t see) and he is spreading his movement through America.

The reason that he is sometimes still himself is that the journey to fully become his hero Tyler is quite a mental challenge. He finds it hard to be Tyler because it goes against his nature. Yet, because he is also repulsed by his own ‘slave’ behavior, he needs to become Tyler to set himself free from his consumerist lifestyle.

Now here comes a description the narrator gives of Tyler shortly after he meets him: “Tyler was a night person. When the rest of us were sleeping, he worked. He had one part time job as a projectionist. A movie doesn’t come all on one big reel. It comes on a few. Someone has to switch the projectors at the exact moment that one reel ends and the next one begins. You look for it and you can see those little dots come into the upper right corner of the screen. (Tyler: “In the industry, we call them cigarette burns”.) That’s the cue for a changeover. He flips the projector, movie keeps right one going and nobody in the audience has any idea. (Tyler: “Now why would anyone want this shit job?”) Because it affords him interesting opportunities. (Tyler: “Like splicing a single frame of pornography into family films.”) So when the snooty cat and the courageous dog with the celebrity voices meet for the first time in reel three, 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.”) Even a hummingbird couldn’t catch Tyler at work.”

Now what many people missed is that these types of flashes occurred earlier in the movie. When the narrator is suffering from insomnia, Tyler appears in four flashes. Blink and you’ll miss them.

This is the process of Tyler manifesting himself in the narrator’s mind. Then the narrator meets (hallucinates) the complete Tyler for the first time on the airplane and the plot is set in motion. Tyler Durden starts setting Fight Clubs in major American cities and later renames it Project Mayhem. His ultimate goal is to blow up all financial buildings, so that all credit card data is destroyed and society can start again at zero.

At the end, the narrator discovers Tyler’s plans and wants to stop him. He shoots himself through the mouth and Tyler drops dead. The narrator is severely wounded, but he survived. Then his love interest Marla is delivered by his (Tyler’s) soldiers. They have a final conversation while the city block around them is reduced to cylinders. “You met me at a very strange time in my life”, is the final line.

But then! As the two lovers watch the inferno, we get an original Tyler Durden dick flash!

So that means the narrator did not really kill him. The mischievous Tyler is still in there and will definitely come back to once again become the narrator. So in the end it is Tyler that wins.