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Bernstein, J.W. (2002). Film Review Essay: Fight Club. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 83(5):1191-1199.

(2002). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 83(5):1191-1199

Film Review Essay: Fight Club

Jeanne Wolff Bernstein

‘I'm sorry you met me at such a weird time in my life’, are the last words uttered by Jack as he squeezes Marla's hand, watching with her from an empty office block as skyscrapers explode and collapse around them one after another. It is a weird time indeed to see the film Fight Club, given that the 11 September destruction of the World Trade Center eerily echoes the fictitious collapse of a series of skyscrapers at the hands of a terrorist organisation, cleverly led by Jack's on-screen alter ego, Tyler Durden. When reality imitates cinematic fiction, cinema no longer functions as the ‘prosthesis for memory’ (Fabe, 2001, p. 1) but as an intact body for what is to come in the future. Rather than just preserving history, film instead furnishes a syntax and lens through which reality is being forestructured. The question then becomes, who is imitating whom, who is taking the place of whom and who is, as we hear Jack say at the beginning of the film, ‘a copy of a copy of a copy’?

In Fight Club, there is a key moment which foreshadows much of the film's haunting ending. When Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), one of the two main characters, is introduced to the audience, we learn that he is a night person who works as a projectionist at the film theatre. From Jack (Ed Norton), the other central film character, we hear the following lines:

A movie doesn't come in one big reel. In old theaters, two projectors are used. Someone has to change projectors at the exact second where one reel starts and another reel ends.

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