At Last! The Motion Picture Improvement Project

There’s no getting around it – I’m going to have to break the first rule of ‘Fight Club’ by talking about ‘Fight Club’.  This, of course, means that I’ll also be breaking the second rule of Fight Club.  Which seems unreasonable.  Clearly, the concept of ‘double jeopardy’ has not reached the ‘Fight Club’ universe.  But despite this, it’s impossible to avoid talking about ‘Fight Club’.  

Granted, it’s unusual that a twenty-year-old movie should force its way into polite conversation, but I’m not referring to ‘Fight Club’ as you may have known it in 1999.  Rather, I’m talking about Fight Club with its all-new and improved ending.  ‘Fight Club 2.0’ is now available and, speaking frankly, the ending is far more comforting to those of us who were rattled by the idea of the destruction of human civilization.

For those unfamiliar with it, the movie ‘Fight Club’ involves an unnamed Narrator who suffers from insomnia.  This was years before the movie version of ‘Cats’ had been released, so insomnia was still a thing.  He meets Tyler Durden, a soap salesman who’d been expelled from the Ponds Institute for his crazy ideas and, together; they form the aforementioned ‘Fight Club’.  There, young and not so young men beat each other senseless to achieve catharsis.  In some countries, this is also known as ‘ice hockey’.  

They then embark on ‘Project Mayhem’, which seeks to destroy the corporate, materialistic system through sabotage.  To this end, they engage Meat Loaf, and he famously went on to perfect the technique at the 2011 AFL Grand Final.  The movie concludes with the Narrator watching on as Project Mayhem takes effect and buildings begin exploding to the sounds of The Pixies ‘Where Is My Mind?’  Or, at least, that’s how the film used to end.  

Luckily, censors in China have included a superior ending. A message flashes on screen advising that, as a result of a clue provided by Tyler, the police arrested everyone and the bomb does not explode.  Plus, they’ve dumped The Pixies in favour of Meat Loaf’s ‘I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ which, given he was in the film and The Pixies weren’t is probably fair enough.  Better still, the new ending advises that Tyler Durden ended up in a lunatic asylum and was released in 2012, opening up the possibility of a sequel.  Which is nice.

Predictably, some people are offended by this kind of blatant censorship.  The director of the original motion picture, David Fincher, was reported as describing it as ‘dystopian’.  Which is weird given that ‘Fight Club’ is, itself, dystopian.  It begs the question: if you act in a dystopian manner towards something that’s already dystopian, do they act like two negatives and cancel each other out?  I don’t not know the answer to that one.

I, on the other hand, take great comfort from the new ending.  I also see a lot of potential to improve other movies so law and order is maintained.  Granted, some might regard the actions of censors in China and consider them heavy-handed authoritarianism.  I prefer to think to see them as an exercise in good taste.  I can’t wait to see what they do to other Hollywood classics that are overdue for a tidy up.

‘Casablanca’, for one, is screaming out for a better ending.  Instead of facilitating the escape of the leader of the French Resistance and reining karaoke champion together with his former squeeze, Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick will turn them in to the authorities and be lauded as hero.  He’ll even get to ride in one of the tanks at the next scheduled military parade.

The film ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ now ends with Ferris being taken in for questioning.  Ultimately, he ceases his futile battles against school authorities and goes on to graduate before taking up a mid-level but deeply rewarding position with the Ministry for Information.  And, for those who were worried, the 1961 Ferrari Spyder was unharmed, although it’s been replaced by the more modest Toyota Corolla to downplay the decadent consumerism that so marred the original.

‘The Godfather’ and its sequel, which originally had a combined running time of more than six hours, are now all over in fifteen minutes.  That’s because of the sterling working work of local authorities who managed to shut down an extensive organized crime ring with extraordinary speed and efficiency. Granted, this makes for a less compelling viewing experience, but you do save a large amount of time.  It also means that the third movie no longer needs to exist.  Which is good.

The actions of the censors are all taking place under something called ‘Project Cohesion’, which is much like ‘Project Mayhem’ save for the radically altered ending.  Having now seen both versions of the movie, on balance I regrettably prefer the original.  Not that you can express that view to the censors. Ironically, they still believe the first rule Fight Club is that you can’t talk about Fight Club.  It seems some things don’t change, even when the ending does.