economy has gone to hell, but you can still afford to splurge on the
latest in High Definition treats. The CHUD Home Entertainment Team has
taken upon themselves to draft the Top 25 Blu-Rays released in Region A
thus far. From the 1st of December until Christmas, we’ll count down to
the greatest Blu-Ray release of all-time. Join us and marvel at the
treasures of the 1080p set.
LIST POSITION: #21
TITLE: Fight Club
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf and that asshole from 30 Seconds To Mars
BUY IT AT AMAZON!
WHY IT’S ON THE LIST
The 90s were the best time to be a frustrated late-teenager or twenty-something. At every stage of the way, the culture had something for you, waiting to turn you around, make you question everything you know, and send you on a new path. It started with Nirvana’s Nevermind. It ended with Fight Club.
What’s always fascinated me about those two in particular is that while so much of the 90s is of its time and place, deteriorating as time goes on, those two pieces of media have come to endure as its audience ages, though not in the way it’s intended. At least, not if you matured as a thinking human being whatsoever. Nevermind’s context in history is as the album that singlehandedly murdered 80s rock. It gave young people freedom to say what they’d been thinking for years: Life is deeper and darker than older generations can tell, and you’ll hear us tell it whether you want to or not. Which is all fine and good and righteous when you’re at that age where your emotions don’t have wider context and they need healthy expression that doesn’t necessarily come when your life is as structured as it is at that age. Hopefully, you grow up, you listen to that album again, and you hear Kurt Cobain’s apathy and searching to justify that anger as opposed to just giving the questions a louder voice. The fact that he never really found answers shouldn’t be lost on anyone either. You hope the audience gets that later on. Of course, there are plenty that don’t. But if you let it sink in, once the initial knee-jerk “Fuck yeah, he’s right!” wears off, there is more to read there when you get older than when you’re young, not vice versa as has been suggested by hundreds of rock writers.
Fight Club‘s journey into the collective young unconscious follows the exact same path. When you’re young, Tyler Durden and his method for self-actualization makes him a bonifide, Public Enemy, prophet of rage. The tools of revolution are this film’s veneer: listless editing, unconventional lighting, careful, abstract uses of CG. The music and sound design have this beautiful coordinated trade off, whipping the viewer from emotional disquiet to wincing, cringing pain, with little details I’m still fishing out of the DTS track this disc was graced with every time I put it on. This is the presentation the film has been waiting for for years now, all in service of kindling that first reaction: that juvenile urge to shove your middle finger in the face of everything in this world that settles for being placated and tranquilized instead of constant search for self-actulization. It sees your suit, your tie, your shaven face, neat little apartment and designer furniture and lives to fuck it up. Pitt is the good reverend here. He is cool, calm, collected, and most importantly, pissed off. So, when this man who celebrates the visceral and harsh and true says get into a fight, and lose, you want to do it. When he says destroy a rather large, expensive piece of public property, you want to do it. To what purpose? To what greater good? In Tyler you trust.
And this is perfectly understandable for the first half of Fight Club, which even 11 years after I was a high school graduate who ate up Tyler’s philosophy with a fucking spoon, still contains nuggets of truth that hit home. But Tyler Durden, and Fight Club as a whole both fall victim to to main pitfall of being a cult of personality: The revolution sells out in a fucking hurry. And over time, for both the narrator and for the smarter members of the audience, you figure out what Fight Club is really about: It is the journey from self-centrism to self-assertion to self-reliance. And you will still find grown-ass men who for reasons beyond my ability to fathom MISS THE FUCKING POINT.
The Blu Ray of Fight Club makes it easy to fall in lock step with Tyler’s worldview. Even in a format that prides itself on perfect, Fight Club is a dirty movie. Even the clean parts–Jack’s office, the hotels, the airports and airplanes–retain a grit and grain that sells us on the real world before Tyler even shows up for more than a blip. When Jack’s boss starts going on about getting icons in cornflower blue, or his pal starts talking about waste being a thief, we are stuck in a permanent mode of uncomfortable. And yes, it’s intentional. Fincher oversaw the HD transfers of both this and Se7en, and even the dingy, bodily fluid stained Se7en has a traditionally cleaner transfer than this. But Blu Ray isn’t strictly about perfect. It’s about the best possible presentation of the material. And in this case, while there’s still moments of grand clarity (some of the shots of the house on Paper St. in the daytime), this is not a film that’s about pretty so much as unease, an atmosphere it creates and maintains in spades.
But you know you’ve become a real boy when you can spot a breaking point between you and Tyler’s view of the world, and hopefully, that’s before Jack gets there. That breaking point should be around the time he has guys lined up outside the house, willing to wait 3 days to come inside and be a Space Monkey. Isn’t this what Fight Club was set up to avoid? Falling lockstep with one mainline philosophy because Fearless Leader says so? Therein lies the problem with any revolution. There comes a point where you are forced to become unique, just like everybody else. After the fateful car crash, the film intends to put you at odds with Tyler’s cult instead of standing with them. That never seems to be immediate, though, the younger you are. When you’re 17, there’s that angry little teenage ID that says that Jack’s being a pussy, and that this is all sacrifice so that Tyler’s vision of a more grounded world could be achieved. But I’m 28 now. And right now, all I see is sheep mindlessly trading one all-knowing shepherd for another, and it’s a creepy thing to witness.
What’s interesting is that this makes the film even more special for me now instead of less. Fight Club as the modern day Anarchists’ Cookbook or as “a male chick flick” leaves out so much of the dark comedy and allegory that really doesn’t sink in until you’ve spent years with the film. The fights, the atmosphere, the soundtrack are all still fantastic, and make for one hell of a sonic/visual ride, but strip away the loud, brash veneer, you’re left with a story about lost boys realizing they should’ve grown up past the need for vandalism or self-destruction as an answer to anything. This fact of the film is the main reason why the supplements offered here are almost vital to the Fight Club experience at this point. Realizing that Pitt, Fincher, and Norton are laughing with and at you in equal measure should give you a greater moment of pause and reflection than Tyler telling you you’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else through a megaphone.
11 years removed, Fight Club‘s still a hell of an experience. It’s one that has a different, stronger, more poignant meaning now than then, which is what any great movie should do; it should grow up with you. It should tell you you had the right ideas, but the wrong approach and remind you of that. But it does one important, enduring thing: It never judges the sentiment that you started with. It still takes that dark throbbing beat, that sinister urge to destroy something beautiful, that cynical eye with which to view the world, and says that there is still a use for all of this, and a Blu Ray this lovingly crafted is there for that very reason. It’s a visual grunge album you put on to remember what it was like to be young and stupid and to feel like your generation was the only one that mattered.
WHY DIDN’T IT RANK HIGHER?
While this is still a heavily stacked Blu Ray, there’s not a whole lot that wasn’t in the Special Edition 2 Disc from back in 2000. Not that I’m complaining, per se, as that (and this set, by proxy) is still one of the best assembled packages for such a relatively young movie on disc. But Fight Club being 10 years old would’ve been the perfect excuse for a retrospective on the film’s impact after 1999. Also, it’s missing my favorite two favorite little bonuses from the 2-Disc: The booklet containing both the positive and most virulently negative reviews the film received on release, and the fake Fox Warning screen, though the gag that opens this disc is still chuckle worthy every time.
THE BEST SUPPLEMENT
There’s not that much new material on this disc, true. But in terms of accessing the material, Fox stumbled on to something special with Insomniac Mode. This should be the gold standard for what sets with this much information to wade through to shoot for in the future, allowing viewers to pick a topic from a list, go to the exact scene and commentary track that fact is contained in, and if activated during the film, allows viewers to see what they’re talking about on each of the four commentary tracks, and switch to them on the fly. There’s a fair few films, some even on this list, that could use that feature.
“So, Mr. Gray…or is Gary alright?”
“Gary….why did you bring a voodoo doll to this interview, exactly?”
“No reason. Nooooo reason at aaaalll……”
“I got a couple years in prison down south. And that’s when I lost the arm.”
“Well, that’s fucked up, Harry. But if you got off the junk, what’s with the eye, then? Are you still…?”
“Sir, the first rule of Project Mayhem is you do n–“
“Right, yeah, I got it.”