Fight Club‘s iconic ending has been censored for its streaming release in China. Released in 1999, Fight Club has become one of the most beloved, discussed, and dissected films of director David Fincher’s career. The film tells the story of an unfulfilled man (Edward Norton) who starts an underground fight club after meeting soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). The club begins to attract large numbers of people fed up with their mundane lives, but it soon becomes clear that Durden’s anti-consumerism ambitions may have international consequences.
Fight Club famously ends with Norton’s narrator discovering that Durden is one of his own disassociated personalities. After finding Durden’s plans to blow up a specific set of buildings to erase debt, the Narrator shoots himself through the cheek, killing Durden. The Narrator then watches the buildings explode before the end credits start to roll. While Fight Club underperformed at the box office and proved divisive among critics upon its release in 1999, it has since developed a cult following, with many calling attention to the movie’s overt anti-consumerism themes.
According to a new report from Vice, Fight Club’s ending has been significantly altered for the film’s streaming release in China. Released on Chinese streaming service Tencent Video, the edited version of the film no longer features any explosions. Instead, it ends with on-screen text revealing that the police foiled Durden’s explosive plans and that the Narrator was sent to a psychiatric facility for treatment. Check out the full ending text below:
Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding. After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.
The changes made to Fight Club‘s ending are far from the first instances of censorship for films entering China. The Chinese government strictly regulates all TV and movies to ensure that they align with the ideals established by the Communist Party, including the notion that law and order must prevail over any criminal enterprises. This strict regulation means that domestically-produced movies are typically self-censored to avoid government alterations and foreign-made films entering the country are often heavily cut down. The report also reveals that it’s not clear, at the moment, whether Fight Club was altered by government order or if it was an act of self-censorship to get the film approved for a Chinese release.
Changing the iconic ending to Fight Club is sure to displease longtime fans of the cult classic movie. In many ways, the altered ending undermines the Narrator’s character arc and some of the critical themes of the film – namely, his journey to achieve true freedom by destroying certain aspects of his life. Interestingly, however, the altered ending is closer to what happens in the Fight Club novel upon which the film is based, where the Narrator ends up in a psychiatric hospital. It’s unfortunate that the people of China will not be able to experience the original version of Fight Club, a film that, even now, more than twenty years after its release, remains a hugely significant milestone for movies.
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