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Fight Club (Fincher, 1999)

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Fight Club (Fincher, 1999) is about masculinity among a certain class of American men being trapped in a world of consumerism. The 'power animal' scene portrays Jack as constantly being threatened and trapped by his environment. This is conveyed through visual aspects - vertical lines, lighting, and the penguin, as well as sounds and Marla.

The vertical lines in the background portray Jack as trapped by modern society e.g. consumerism, since vertical lines create the image of a jail cell. In the opening scene, the camera pans to the right in each shot of Jack, placing him from the left to slightly off-centre of the frame and in between the door frame in the background. This creates two vertical lines that appear to trap him. This repeatedly occurs throughout the scene e.g. after attending support groups, in both beginning and end of the scene; as Jack leaves, the camera moves so that he is always in the door frame. During meditation, there are other vertical lines - the radiator, and the picture on the wall. These are emphasized by rapid editing, space (placing Jack off-centre), and contrasting shots of vertical and horizontal lines (chairs). Moreover, in the cave, the ice on top has dense vertical lines that are eventually on top of Jack in a close-up shot of him off-centred creating space that emphasizes the lines. These vertical lines throughout the film, convey that Jack is trapped in consumerism that exists in modern society. Despite everything, he is owned by his material possessions and feels empty.

The penguin shows up only in this scene. Its black and white skin looks like a suit, emphasizing a 'suit and tie' uniformed environment to 'look' professional. Jack wears a formal suit; his tie (vertical line), symbolizes Jack as trapped in a 'suit and tie' environment. He does not fit into this uniformed society and is not 'normal' (even mentally), yet he is forced to 'appear' to be; this causes Jack to feel trapped in a formal environment he does not belong in.

Lighting evokes a feeling of being trapped. In the film, darkness is associated with threat and light with freedom; yet, Jack is always in the dark and consistently moves away from light. In the cave, Jack faces away from the camera, and towards the artificial bright white light. Then he turns around and walks deeper into the dark. Even in the long shot of Jack and the penguin, there is bright light to the right and left of Jack, yet he is in the dark. Jack is therefore threatened by the environment he is trapped in. Furthermore, moving away from light shows he is moving deeper into the consumerism trap.

Background sounds portray a sense of threat and urgency to be saved. The opening ambulance siren symbolizes that Jack needs to be saved from emptiness and the consumerism culture that caused his insomnia. Once Jack feels 'resurrected' a fast-beat happy music is played. This contrasts with eerie music when Marla is introduced, and

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