May 31, 2000

Fight Club Spoiler

These social constructionists have surpassed the cottage industry stage, methinks. They have invaded Hollywood with a vegence. But you knew this, because you have seen "The Matrix" and "Fight Club."

The plot - (not for those that do not want to spoil seeing the film).

Based on Chuck Palahniuk's first novel, Fight Club is about a yuppie, called Jack (played by Edward Norton) with insomnia. To attempt to cure his insomnia Jack has been attending self help groups for patients with incurable diseases such as tuberculosis and testicular cancer. At first, the sense of openness and catharis that Jack attains at these meetings, in the arms of a mamoth breasted Bob (played by Meatloaf) enables him to "sleep like a baby". This temporary cure is disturbed by the arrival of a depressive, suicidal woman at the meetings, who Jack appears to have very ambivalent feelings towards. One day Jack comes home to find his yuppie apartment, and all his scandanavian furniture, has been blown up. He moves in with an agressive, sexually potent, Neitzschian who also hates and lacks a father, called Tyler Durden (played by Bradd Pitt) Jack and Tyler enjoy a fight and then sets up a fight or brawling club. Jack then finds meaning in his life from the sense of pain that he inflicts and is inflicted upon by others. The fight clubs escalate to unrealistic proportions when Tyler forms a terrorist group that blows up coporate art, Starbucks Cafes and credit card companies. Eventually Jack realises that Tyler is a figment of his own imagination, his own alter ego. After brawling with himself at length Jack manages to "kill" Tyler by blowing a hole through one of his own cheeks, convincing the Tyler that he has blown the back of their head off. (This reminds me of a story by a psychriatrist at a local hospital, telling of a schizophrenic that was, so it was claimed, cured by a near death experience) ?

BTW I hear that multiple personality disorder is pretty rare, and often brought about as a result of exposure to literature (fictional or otherwise) about multiple personality disorder. There are those "houses" (I think that was the name that they gave themselves) on the internet, that disagree. Anyway...

Like that other social constructionist violence "The Matrix", "Fight Club" seems to have been influenced by the philosophy of Jean Baudrillard. The scene where the hero describes his Scandanavian (annotated with captions showing make and price) furniture and kitchen-ware that shows that it was made by a real craftsman, as signs that represent his self, is very nearly a quote from Baudrillard's "For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign". The film explores, and shows the heros attempt to create and then reject his identity as expressed by his consumption of furniture as signs.

This attempt would seem to be a failiure, since the hero "kills" his free-spirited alter ego, who is anyway at best only an anti-hero, defined only by this attempt to be free of the consumerist social construction of self. Perhaps psychoanalysis tells us that all those that attack the status quo are the most oediple and the least free of it? Similarly, perhaps, the film also comes down on the side of "anti-social constructionism" implied by the final scene where the hero, beside his girlfriend, finds himself, his true self, while the towers of consumerism, in the form of credit card companies, fall to the ground. Rather naff and Hollywood romance, or a pleasingly Freudian conclusion -- the hero finds his desire, monogomous and tamed but potent, in the end?

Links with other films and psychoanalysis(?).

I rather like films that end up pointing the finger at the hero such as "Angel Heart," "Sixth Sense," and to a lesser extent "Seven," (by the same director, David Fincher) and "The Usual Suspects." The climatic moment in each of these films, (when Mickey Rourke realises that he has been doing the murders etc. & perhaps with the exception of "Seven") may be similar to a revealing experience in psychoanalysis where one finds that the enemy is within.

Like Cinema Paradiso in reverse, we find that Tyler works a projectionist splicing sex scenes into family entertainment. The projectionis in Cinema Paradiso removes the sex (kiss) scenes from otherwise family enterntainment, on the advise of a priest. How entirely appropriate a metaphor for the workings of a sane superego. I have argued that the censoring projectionist in Cinema Paradiso seemed to represent the young hero's super-ego.

Some have claimed that Tyler is Jack's id that *slips* sex back into the footage, between the frames, but based upon my interpretation of cinema paradiso, the projectionist Tyler is a revengeful super ego, mirroring the Jack's oediple conflict -- both Jack and Tyler have been betrayed by their father.

The Hero in his "fight club" finds meaning in conflict, in the attempt to destroy meaning -- the enevitable end game of postmodernists and others oedipally challenged, perhaps.
However, these reviews below suggests that Tyler is Jack's id. (I have often wondered about the close connection between the superego and the id, in my ignorance.)

Other reviews can be found at -

Main unofficial page

Posted by timtak at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2000

Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso and the Projectionist in the Mind

Cinema Paradiso is very beuatiful, and good, too good to submit to a blunt analytical knife, but also at the same time very analysable. So here it is.

Cinema Paradiso is a film about growing up to be a man, in a flashback. The film starts when the director recieves a phone call from his mother to tell him that a projectionist has died.

At the beginning of the flash back we find that the projectionist, and surrogate father to the hero as a boy, cuts the sex scenes from movies and "looks after them" for the boy at the request of a priest. This function of controlling what we see, and removing sex from our consciousnes, at the behest of religion, makes the projectionist for me an analogy for the boy's super-ego, the other within, God the father.

The projectionist also cuts the sex scenese out of the boy's real life by preventing him from getting together with the girl that he is obsessed with.

At first the boy tries sending here many many letters but he never gets a reply. The boy goes away to be a great movie maker and have lots of success and girlfriends.

When the projectionist dies he leaves a momento to the boy (now a famous
movie director), a film made up of all the sex scenes spliced together. I am not sure that we ever do get the cut scenes back, at least until we die but the way in which our friend, father, and master of the projector applies a bit of taboo to our conciousness can be found in Cinema Paradiso and my interpretation of Freud.

I think that perhaps also "the purloined letter" of Lacan is making a come back. The projectionist hides a letter from the boy's girlfriend in an obvious place and it reaches its destination eventually. One might argue that there is an overlap between the lost girl and the hero's mother in that they both remain in the hero's hometown.

This film portrays happy tragedy that happens to all of those that make it into the big wide world of adult men. It is also something that the hero of the director's more recent film "The Legend of 1900" was not able to do.

In one version of the film the boy eventually gets back to bed with the girl. This is the version that I saw. I think that I would prefer the version where the boy never meets the woman again I am not sure which is "the directors cut".

The music is also very pleasant written by Ennio Morricone who also wrote the theme music for True Romance.

Posted by timtak at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)