Neorealism in cinema is a movement that tends to share similarities with reality. Through its minimal aesthetics, such as the neutral camera styles (mostly medium and wide shots), neorealism is known to approach the daily life issues. Even though some mainstream movies cannot be compared to neorealism at this level, it is possible to compare the techniques.
The movie Fight Club (1999), directed by David Fincher, corresponds to the Hollywood techniques, especially when it comes to the movie’s rhythm and extravaganzas of big-budget movies – like the building explosion of the last scene. In fact, this scene is the typical mainstream scene in movies. It is the moment when one of the most significant plot twists of the movie happens, and everything in the story gets solved. If Fincher’s movie had been shot with the neorealism techniques, the ending would have been much different.
Throughout the movie, Fincher can create a relationship between the characters and the audience. By the end, the proximity is not broken. Instead, it is the moment when the audience grows even more sensible to the characters. This feeling is accomplished through the constant use of close-ups. While the main character talks with his lover, there is never a moment that this conversation is seen from a distance. The audience is forced to watch closely and to feel absorbed into these two characters. In a neorealist movie, this scene would have been shot differently. While they talk, there would have been a series of medium and wide shots. Also, the length of the shots would be different. While in the actual Fight Club scene, every shot is quick to build tension and rhythm, in a neorealist version, the tension and drama would be created through longer shots. Even though the audience does not look to the characters as close regarding the distance between the camera and the character, it is given more time to observe the details and accomplish this proximity.
Another essential aspect that differs the typical mainstream from neorealism is the sound. During the dialogue, at first, the only audible background sound is the echo of the voice’s characters due to their location – an abandoned empty building. However, the music slowly fades, and as soon as the characters end their dialogue, the natural sounds are replaced by this music. In a neorealist movie, this choice would have been different. When it comes to reality, there is not constant music in the background to illustrate people’s lives, and that is what neorealism captures. In this scene, the music would have been rejected, and the only extra sound would be the echo. The scene would become more accurate to real life. While Fincher uses the song as a technique to create an impactful ending, the absence of music would result in the same purpose.
The last shot of this scene is one of the most memorable shots of the entire movie, but at the same time is also one of the most extravagant. There is finally a wide shot of the two characters in the empty, abandoned room with big windows that go from the ceiling to the floor. Through this window, it is visible the city and other towers that soon explode. The characters hold hands and look at each other in a way to say that their relationship will work out, even though everything around them is a complete mess. In neorealism, the character’s behavior could have been the same.
The only thing that would change is the explosion in the background. The drama achieved with this explosion would have been made with neorealism’s accuracy to reality and with the quietness and silence of the real lives’ dialogues.
Even though the ending of Fight Club would be different and less extravagant, the drama would still be part of this scene. In fact, even though the buildings in the background explode, the most dramatic thing about this scene is the plot itself. Even shot and edited differently, the ending would be dramatic anyway.