8. Fight Club (1999)
The Narrator (V.O.)
You wake up at Seatac, SFO, LAX. You wake up at O'Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, BWI. Pacific, mountain, central. Lose an hour, gain an hour. This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time. You wake up at Air Harbor International. If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?
The Narrator (Edward Norton) is dead inside. He stares blankly ahead, photocopying, mourning his own futile existence. He has lost his identity and gone inside of himself. His voice-over lets us know that he’s still alive. If there wasn’t any voice-over, the majority of the first act would be in complete silence. His sarcastic, droning voice has different functions. It fills in gaps, it lets us get to know him, it adds a lot of deadpan humour, and later it even helps to explain how to splice sex organs into family films. What is most interesting about this use of voice-over is how SANE our narrator comes across. He cracks jokes, he also gets nervous, and he even discloses that he’s a little jealous of Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). You’d never guess that he’s actually suffering from multiple personality disorder. And that’s what makes this voice-over even more effective. For the whole film, he’s represented as just another American yuppie addicted to IKEA.