For the first battle of Movies V Book I thought we would start with a classic: Fight Club. Although, despite its high status, I had never actually seen the infamous movie prior to about 2 days ago. However Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club had been on my shelf for a couple of months. I actually surprised myself in the fact I had never seen the film: I usually love to watch cult classic films, merely just to see what all the fuss is about, and whether I agree said fuss is justified. Fight Club is one of those films so iconic that many may not even have known it was an adaptation, and so having read the book first, I am probably in the minority of people.
I am very aware that the first rule about Fight Club is not to talk about Fight Club: but this is worth breaking the rules.
A surprisingly short book, it did not take me long to race through the novel (a mere 2 days in fact). It is worth noting the sort of surge in the past year of the crime thriller genre – the books about the couple down the road, or the house down the street, if you will. However, from the few of those modern books I have read, their storylines not only seem overtly artificial, but this also consequently comes with a general lack of good literary and storytelling technique. Whereas Fight Club is perfect.
It is so hypnotically written, to create a constant state of suspense that is not too unbearable nor artificial. It is not a particularly happy book, but at the same time the odd nod to humour and the narration does not mean you leave it in a depressive state, and so you find yourself enjoying it, a lot.
Characters are perfectly introduced, and chapters are perfectly sequenced.
I gave it a solid 5 stars.
Soon after the title sequence it became clear to me that the film was going to be a particularly accurate replica of what I had pictured when reading it – especially in regard to the general tone and atmosphere of the movie: this was translated very well, which is often rare for adaptations. It is also quite true to the book in terms of dialogue.
The Narrator in the film initially has a larger sense of normalcy (aside from the addiction to cancer support groups) and seems more relatable than his novel counterpart. This changes as the film goes on, especially when he beats himself up in front of his boss. Furthermore, in the book the consistent use of haikus and the personification of organs seems more of a literary technique/device to add depth to the storyline and character psyche, whereas the film makes it seem more like a sign of lunacy. However, I feel such minor discrepancies are forgivable: in a book largely defined by the Narrator’s relationship with the reader/audience a film is always going to find difficulty translating that onto a screen.
The casting of the film was INSANE. I found it very hard to picture the Narrator when reading but upon watching the film I realised that it could not have been anyone other than Edward Norton. Meat Loaf was just how I had imagined Big Bob, and Helena Bonham Carter was just how I had imagined Marla. Furthermore, having not seen Brad Pitt in much I have always been sceptical about him as an actor – yet his ability was impeccably demonstrated in the film, especially in the scene where he gets beaten up by/beats up the bar manager Lou.
Yet overall I did not feel as engrossed by the film as I did the book, though this is partly due to an innate preference that comes with experiencing one before the other. Fight Club is a tale about the depths of the human psyche, the lengths we go to feel alive and to not feel so alone – and this maybe isn’t as obvious a message you would get had you not read the book.