Film Scene Details: Film Name – Fight Club
Director – David Finch
Year of Release – 1999
Scene Details – When the ‘Narrator’ realises he is Tyler Durden.
In this scene, there are only three main characters that come up – The Narrator, Tyler Durden, and Marla Singer.
Tyler and The Narrators’ costumes vary quite dramatically. The former, sports outlandish and eccentric garments; A big fur coat (worn in slightly), red flared jeans/trousers, oxblood loafers made of leather and a slouchy orange knitted jumper. He also dons round framed sunglasses and a chunky silver ring on his right little finger, topped with a blue precious stone. Durden bares a faint bruise on his nose and a buzz cut hairstyle. Tyler is the only one of the three characters who really has a prop (The Narrator and Marla Singer both use a home phone at the beginning of the scene); Using a red lighter he lights a ready-made cigarette, making the only two props he has.
The latter is more plain, wearing very neutral colours, showing a lack of a sense of style. The Narrator is adorned with a black trench coat, cutting off just above the knee, a basic grey t-shirt, light khaki trousers and simple black, leather, slip-on shoes. He isn’t wearing any accessories, such as jewellery, which also highlights the fact that he is quite uninteresting. This perhaps is another way of showing why the narrator turned to an alter ego (Tyler), who leads a life of stark comparison.
Marla singer, who is only in the first eight seconds of the scene, projects quite a dark atmosphere about her. She wears a short, choppy haircut, paired with fair skin and dark features. Her strappy top is black, matching the smokey eyeshadow around her eyes, seemingly applied haphazardly. This somewhat compliments the purple bags under her eyes. Much like the Narrator, her skin is sallow and her lips are chapped, white from dehydration.
The Narrator and Tyler Durden are shot in the same hotel room location, of which is quite basic. The colour beige is repeated a lot in the small area, dark blue popping up here-and-there. The space is lit mainly by the lamps in the room, casting a warm glow. However, the filter added onto the scene causes the light to take on a greenish tinge. Singer, on the other hand, is shot in an unkept, empty room, having the same greenish filter over top.
Generally, during this scene, the shots alternate between Close Ups, Mid shots and Over the Shoulder shots. Again, the length of each shot generally stays the same, depending on the amount of dialogue, keeping a steady pace throughout most of the scene. However, for the duration of the scene, there are breaks in the continuous series of shots, with flashbacks which are quick and fairly disorientating. The flashbacks are made up of a series of fast-paced shots, sometimes only taking up one second.
There aren’t dramatic changes in camera movement or angles, apart from during the flashbacks. Although, Tyler is shot from a lower angle throughout – a trick used to make him appear bigger. This technique is applied to show that Tyler has the upper hand in the conversation.
At the beginning of the scene, the Narrator has a phone call with Marla. As they are in different locations, cross-cuts are used to show that they are not in the same room. This also creates a sense of urgency and simultaneity.
The most dramatic change in the style of cinematography used is during the flashbacks, of which are generally quite erratic. There are lots of cuts in these shots, making the movements of the character seem almost robotic. This may also be used to further enforce the idea that the Narrator is mentally unstable, with some shots being incredibly shaking; this gives the audience an uneasy feeling like everything is falling apart, which is probably true for the character.
Throughout the majority of the scene, the editing isn’t that different, only cutting to a different shot to focus on another character when the dialogue alternates. However, during the flashbacks the cuts are quick and often, generally moving quite quickly. The creates more of a sense of instability, relating to the Narrator.
The whole clip has a sickly green/yellow filter over top of the filming, which makes the atmosphere more surreal and dark; The contrast is increased and the shadows are enhanced. This again relates to the unhinged mindset of the Narrator.
In this scene, there is parallel music playing in the background (non-diegetic) that carries a steady beat which becomes more dynamic as the clip continues. During the more intense shots, the music becomes more dramatic, adding in high pitched sounds which further the uneasy feel of the scene. When the Narrator realises him and Tyler Durden are the same person, the music strips back with only two alternating notes playing adding to the tense atmosphere.
The dialogue is diegetic for the most part, but when the Narrator has his flashbacks the dialogue becomes non-diegetic because it is in his mind.