Chuck Palahniuk, the author of the original novel which inspired David Fincher’s 1999 ‘Fight Club’ film, has said that the controversial Chinese alternate ending is actually closer to the one he initially wrote.
The original 1999 film ends with the main character (Edward Norton) shooting himself in the face to kill of his imaginary friend Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and then watching a bunch of corporate buildings explode, delivering an anarchistic message about the evils of consumerism and the need to dismantle a system based around it.
Upon release in China however, this ending was completely edited out and replaced by a simple caption that read “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.”
Chinese censors proves that they are not just good at deleting contents by adding a happy ending to Fight Club. I wonder whether this violates the copyright of the movie? https://t.co/8rjcBpnjLTpic.twitter.com/ExYnTEY6gC— Henry Gao (@henrysgao) January 23, 2022
Released on Tencent Video, the ending was made to comply with Chinese censorship laws, which demand that criminals in movies always receive their due punishment at the hands of righteous police forces and societal harmony is upheld.
The new ending to the film which had been out for over 20 years drew a lot of criticism online, as most people, including the Chinese, had already seen the original version of the film and were baffled by the unnecessary alteration.
However, Chuck Palahniuk - the author of the original novel, upon which the film is based - has had quite the opposite reaction to the alternate ending, writing in his newsletter: “Have You Seen This Sh*t? This is SUPER wonderful! Everyone gets a happy ending in China!”
Speaking to TMZ, the author explained that the new Chinese ending was actually more in line with what he had originally written. In the book, the narrator’s plan to blow up the buildings also fails, although not due to quick-thinking police authorities, but because of the protagonist’s poor bomb making skills. He then shoots himself in the head and wakes up in a mental hospital, thinking he had gone to heaven.
“The irony is that the way the Chinese have changed it is they’ve aligned the ending almost exactly with the ending of the book, as opposed to Fincher’s ending, which was the more spectacular visual ending,” Palahniuk said. “So in a way, the Chinese brought the movie back to the book a little bit.”
He also added that people revising his original work is actually nothing new to him, as overseas publishers have been editing his novel to align with the ending in Fincher’s film.
“A lot of my overseas publishers have edited the novel so the novel ends the way the movie ends, so I’ve been dealing with this kind of revision for like 25 years.”
The author also thought it amusing that the angry reactions to Chinese censorship coming from Americans failed to take into account that Palahniuk’s books are actually banned in many locations across the US.
“What I find really interesting is that my books are heavily banned throughout the U.S.,” he said. “The Texas prison system refuses to carry my books in their libraries. A lot of public schools and most private schools refuse to carry my books. But it’s only an issue once China changes the end of a movie? I’ve been putting up with book banning for a long time.”