Analysis over the lighting used to convey the movie Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club was produced in 1999 by Art Linson and Cean Chaffin in regency enterprises. It was directed by David Fincher and starred Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter. The movie is based on the novel Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk which he released in 1996. The movie features “Jack” played by Norton an insomniac who is the narrator and the protagonist of the movie and “Tyler Durden” played by Brad Pitt who is a mental projection of the protagonist.
The movie can be categorized as a neo-noir film, a genre that uses low key lighting and shadows as well as awkward camera placements. The initial shorts at the beginning of the movie are an integration of hard and soft blue lighting (Fight Club). They convey the mental condition of the protagonist. This is kind of a foregrounding of the events to ensue in subsequent events in the movie. Tyler Durden is represented as a mental projection of the narrator thus the representation of the narrators mind at the beginning.
Most of the scenes in this movie are at night hence the use of hard lighting in the movie to bring out the shadows. Soft lighting would make the images appear grey or completely dull. Jack finds his house destroyed by an explosive after he arrives from a business trip. He decides to call Durden who he befriended while on the flight. The two meet at a bar which is dimly lit where Durden invites Jack over to his house. In the scene outside the bar where Durden asks Jack to hit him, there is an array of different lights employed to convey the night life of the inner cities. Durden lived in an old dilapidated house in one of these inner cities (Fight Club).
The director while shooting scenes in the cities employs the use of city lights and fluorescents. This is in a bid to bring out a more practical and realistic scenes since most of the movie scenes are actually taken at night. Inside the various clubs that some scenes are shot, the movie director uses some dim lamps creating a background glow. The scene at the basement is also softly lit to convey the underworld in which such clandestine activities took place to avoid contact with the law (Fight Club). The director uses hard lights to bring out the clear shadows. The “fight club” that is formed from this encounter had its participants fight at night in club basements where it is usually dimly lit with the center stage being a little bit bright for the audience to clearly see the fighting contests. The characters in these scenes are also accorded a limited amount of light in way that their eyes are not clearly visible but one can easily draw out their physical features.
The director also uses natural light to take some shots during the day. He however ensures that these scenes are shot in shadowed location to blend in with the rest of the movie scenes (Fight Club). The director has such scenes edited to appear a little dull. The dull lighting is part and parcel of projecting the movie’s theme of the underworld in a vivid manner.
The only brightly lit scenes are those that the narrator appears to be in control of the situation. The director ensures this scenes are bright since the narrator is the protagonist and has to be seen as so. The scenes though are limited as the dim scenes dominate the movie.
Fight Club. Dir. David Fincher. Producers. Art Linson and Ceán Chaffin. 1999. DVD. Regency Enterprises, 1999.