Film Studies – Fight Club
Slide 1: Titles ‘Fight Club’
PowerPoint Presentation Slide Notes – Fight Club
Title: Welcome to Jack and Tyler’s Mind
Film: Fight Club
Sequence: 00:34:32 to 00:44:21 (Fight Club DVD released in 2000)
Film Studies Assignment – Analyse a 10 minute sequence of a film of your choice.
Fight Club – The sequence that I have chosen to analyse encompass Chapters 14 & 15 from the year 2000 DVD of the film Fight Club directed by David Fincher who also directed Alien3, Se7en etc. The two main characters are:- Jack also known as the Narrator is played by Edward Norton and the second main character Tyler Durden is played by Brad Pitt. I will confine my analysis to camera angles, lighting and mise en scene and how the director uses these to distinguish between Jacks mind state i.e. whether we are seeing the world through Jack or Tyler’s eyes. So I’m not going to analyse the inherent references to masculinity, sexuality and references to pornography that exist throughout the film.
Setting the plot i.e. the exposition Jack works for an automobile company a job he obviously hates, Jacks’ only aim is to be the owner of everything in an IKEA catalogue. He is unable to sleep and he spends his waking life travelling on behalf of his company across the US by plane to investigate crashes/deaths caused by defects in the automobiles manufactured by his employer.
The chance meeting on a plane introduces us to Tyler Durden, who is in fact Jacks alto ego. Jack is a schizophrenic and his alto ego Tyler Durden we presume has control of Jacks body during the night or whenever he cannot sleep.
Synopsis of Sequence
This sequence also introduces the audience to the different worlds that Tyler Durden and Jack inhabit. It also introduces the audience to the initial formation of Fight Club, its development and as it grows into becoming an organised and violent institution. We will see the differences between Jacks two personalities, Jack the conformist and Tyler the anarchist.
The opening scene of this ten minute sequence begins with the camera at a high angle looking down in wide shot following Jack and Tyler as they walk down a dark and wet street towards Tyler’s house, this is where Jack is to stay following the destruction of his own apartment in a gas explosion. (Which we later learn he did himself in his Tyler persona)
This is our first introduction to Tyler’s World the dark side of Jacks existence, as mentioned previously Tyler has control of Jacks body when night falls/sleep escapes him. The lighting and camera angles have many elements of Film Noir, its dark, the streets are wet and there are shadows with many areas remaining unlit. It’s a menacing environment, threatening with a suggestion of violence and therefore preparing the audience for the violence that is to come.
With the camera in wide shot we are introduced to the interior of Tyler’s house, which continues this dark Noir type theme, its run down, the plumbing and electricity have problems and the roof leaks. It’s here that the character of Tyler is further explored, where he’s shown to be the polar opposite of Jacks environment. Totally removed from Jacks Ikea catalogued environment, which is ordered and conformist. Tyler wants to destroy the corporate world, tear down the world of the consumer with its Ikea catalogues.
This change of environment, the change in mise en scene further emphasises the differences between Tyler and Jack. Jacks apartment was well lighted, ordered, and uncluttered looking just as if it had come straight from the Ikea catalogue. Tyler’s environment is the opposite, it’s poorly lighted, cluttered and dirty and the property is obviously in need of major repairs, in fact it’s most probably a condemned building that Tyler has taken over.
In the next scene, shot in wide angle is of the street fight between Jack and Tyler in a car park outside a bar, which is witnessed by two men who themselves exude menace and potential violence as they come out of the bar. We are back in Tyler’s dark world full of menace and violence and it’s here in this scene that the idea of Fight Club is introduced.
The director then cuts to a scene showing Jack and his boss in the men’s toilet at work, we notice how the lighting changes again, its daylight but colourised with blue which in later scenes is described as a cornflower blue (a reference is made to Jacks bosses tie as being cornflower blue) this is how the director (Editor?) has chosen to distinguish and therefore create this theme separating Jacks world from Tyler’s world of darkness, menace and violence.
Fincher then cuts back again to Tyler’s world, this time to a fight scene shot once again in the bars car park, there are more spectators and they are willing to participate in a fight, to become part of Tyler’s vision for Fight Club. The cameras low angle shot and the lighting from above adds to the audiences feeling of the darkness and the menace of the scene as the violent fight scene is shot.
The next scene camera in wide shot continues the theme of the chaos and the anarchy of Tyler’s world as we see the main characters practising their golf swing in a dilapidated and run down area where they are now living.
In a poorly lighted cluttered interior scene, shot in close up, Jacks madness is further explored as we see him reading journals by torchlight, which also seems to be written by some o ne also called Jack (No coincidence). We the audience would interpret the author as being himself although Jack disassociates himself from writing them, so he obviously has no memory of writing these journals and cannot recognise himself as being the protagonist in these journals.
As the director cuts back to Jacks world (cornflower blue) we see Jack in a meeting at work, it’s now obvious that Tyler’s personality is leaking through into Jacks world as he reveals his bloodied teeth to his colleagues at the meeting.
For the first time in this scene the menace and violence of Tyler’s world is brought into Jacks. The audience is left with the impression that Tyler’s personality is gradually taking over.
Cutting back again to Tyler’s world, Fight Club membership has grown and is now more organised as the audience POV follows the camera movements (stedicam) which tracks Tyler and Jack as they go inside the bar to greet their fellow members. The bar scene is darkly lighted and feels menacing as Fight Club members acknowledge each other in preparation for this evenings fights.
Tyler lays out the rules of Fight Club to its members in the dark basement/cellar of the bar as the camera moves around the room revealing the faces and postures of the members, which all adds to the menace of the scene and is a prelude to the violence to come.
It’s yet another example of the difference between Jacks and Tyler’s individual personalities, Jack is reserved and is generally seen as a participant in these scenes whereas Tyler is an extrovert and takes the lead in these situations.
Jacks narration in this sequence identifies individuals that he knows from work, who are generally similar to himself, reserved and unassuming at work but becoming something much more when they fight, to quote ‘becomes a god for 10 minutes’.
The director at the end of this fight scene cuts back to Jacks world where he is shown at work in a typical office environment as he sees the fighter from the previous night pushing a mail trolley through the office. They acknowledge each other but do not speak; they share a secret, the world of Tyler’s Fight Club. The scene is lighted once again in this cornflower blue so that the audience can identify that we are in Jacks world again.
The director cuts back to another fight scene this time involving Tyler, he’s surrounded by members of Fight Club who encourage their chosen fighters to excel, the dark lighting adds again to the menace, blood lust of the fighters and their supporters as the camera follows the action around the room. The scene ends with a close up of Jack who smiles his approval as Tyler wins his fight.
In the next scene, with the camera at a low angle again, the roles are reversed with Jack fighting to the encouragement of his fellow members of Fight Club, as Jack loses his fight the director shoots a close-up of Jacks face as he lies face down on the floor ending the scene.
In this ten minute sequence the director has introduced the audience to the core details of Fight Club; he has also set the theme for both Jack and Tyler’s worlds which in turn represent Jacks state of mind. For instance when he’s Jack the mise en scene is generally brightly lighted with this cornflower blue colourised effect and the mise en scene is usually of an office environment lighted by fluorescents. However when he’s in his Tyler persona the world is in direct contrast Jacks, it’s dark, full of menace and violence. The scene is usually of a dark and wet street or a cluttered interior or exterior of a dilapidated building.
In general, depending on which world we are in Jacks or Tyler’s, the camera angles and type of shot also changes to match, for instance in the fight scenes they tend to be shot at low or high angle to establish dominance of one fighter over another, rarely is the camera at eye level in these scenes. In contrast when we are in Jacks world, eye level camera angles dominate.
This sets a template for the rest of the film, the recurring image of Dark versus Light as we switch between Tyler’s and Jacks worlds.
The audience is also drawn into Jacks state of mind which changes from being an introvert whose only excitement in his life was his next purchase from Ikea, to being more of an extrovert, therefore becoming more like Tyler Durden the anarchist and entering his more exciting life of violence and rebellion against everything corporate or establishment.
This change in character and mind set is most obvious in the scenes where Jacks world and mindset has elements of Tyler’s. For example when we see Jacks injuries from the fights and Jacks general deterioration in personal appearance.
When for example we see him at work, his shirts have become dirty and un-ironed, the tie has not been tightened and it’s not straight, he is becoming more dishevelled, less conformist as the film progresses and becoming in turn more like his schizophrenic persona Tyler Durden.
(Number of Words 2032 including titles)