An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a devil-may-care soapmaker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.
Fight Club‘s hyper-realistic lighting and look help convey the theme of the film. Colors don’t have much saturation, instead the world looks rather pale, typically tinted with a greenish tone. Some shots are nearly monochromatic with pure white faces being replaced with yellowish hues. Clear lines can be drawn between the look that David Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth implemented and the feeling of depression. Everything looks different, colors change, things lose saturation, and the film makes sure of that the offices look like they could be anyone’s hated 9 to 5 workplace. These scenes are purposely lit like reality, by embracing the fluorescent practicals available inside the locations, amplifying the schizophrenic nature of the protagonist.
“Many practical locations are lit by fluorescents in the ceiling, so we purposefully tried to maintain that element of reality. Toplight seemed to help with prosthetics aswell, by showing off the integrity of the wounds without revealing too much.” (1)
Different to the office scenes, the low key look of scenes when Tyler Durden is around, serve the purpose of making the scenes more intense and dramatic. With a very stylised approach, there appears to be no fill light at all, creating dramatic shadows.
“The general game plan was to make sure that the actors seperated from their environment and then play the actor’s sidelight off of the practicals as much as possible without actually ‘lighting’ them. For this film, we didn’t neceserrally want to be able to see directly into their faces. It was more interesting and appropriate to the story to force the audience to pay attention […] In either case, it was still important to feel the presence of their eyes, so we often played with eyesights.” (1)
During the brutal scene, where we can see the protagonist beat down Angel Face, the position of the camera plays an important role. It is not just watching the fight from the view of the crowd, but moreover it makes the viewer jump directly into the middle of it. By being low to the ground, the placement of the camera forces the viewer to look up at the narrator, making him feel powerful and threatening. It seems as if Edward Norton‘s punches are flying directly into the viewers face. To further intensify this fight, these shots are intercut with reactions of the crowd, making the scene even more disturbing. This is called the Kuleshov Effect, a mental phenomenon by which viewers apply their own emotional reactions to images by the interaction of two sequential shots.
Since 1999‘s Fight Club, David Fincher‘s main cinematographer of choice has been Jeff Cronenweth. The duo’s films have since included The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl.
(1) ASC Mag November 1999
January 22, 2018
If you like these Stills, make sure to buy the movie, it is our absolutely highest recommendation.
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