‘Directing… it’s a kind of a masochistic endeavour.’ Thisis a depth investigation into how David Fincher reveals and exposes the truth in his films. ( TRUTH; being within the narrative, how characters discover themselves or something else in the end of their journey)
This is a significant and important quote made my David Fincher himself which inspired me to explore this further. I also thought this refers to my problematic in a way, in which talks about discovering the truth through surroundings and Fincher himself obviously was encouraged by in his films. “ I was aware of a visceral response to art direction, the first time I was aware that I was being told things about people and the story through their surroundings and not through exposition” This quote gave me the impression that David was intrigues by other people’s lives and in my opinion, relates to Hitchcock with the voyeurism eye, looking into peoples lives and showing the secrets and different personalities that lie beneath individuals. He reveals the truth about these characters in many different ways, which I will be exploring even further in my three films.
The film I will be focusing on is Fight Club and the two films I will be relating are ‘Zodiac’ and ‘The girl with the dragon tattoo’. I’ve chosen to look at these films because I feel they all present how Fincher reveals the ‘truth’ and all portray it either clear, or don’t reveal it until the very end. I will be exploring how Fincher reveals and exposes truth in these three films.
David Fincher is the son of a journalist and bureau chief for life magazine, and a mental health nurse who worked in a methadone clinic, Fincher knew he wanted to become a film maker when he was eight years old after he began making his own movies with an 8mm camera he received for his birthday. Growing up in the Bay Area also exposed him to George Lucas, whom he watched shoot, “American Grffiti” while hanging out with friends. After attending Ashland High school in Oregon, Fincher returned to California where he got a job working as a camera loading and performing animation duties for director John korty He then worked for Lucas at the famed visual effects studio, Industrial Light & Magic when he was just 18, where Fincher spent four years performing matte photography on films like "Return of the Jedi" (1983) and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984). Fincher always liked the idea of ‘violence’ as a child, for example there was a time in his childhood where he remembers wanting a ‘ BB gun’ for his birthday, as a good mother would do, Claire refused, “ I wont get you a BB gun.. What else would you like?” Then David specifically asked for a ‘Video camera’ Fincher’s parents were an early influence on the young David, encouraging his interest in cinema and the creative arts. His mother did her best to expose him to contemporary and classical culture. While still a boy, he took classes in painting, drawing and sculpture, searching for the right creative outlet for his talents. “It was a beautiful place to grow up,” Fincher says of California, “ A very sunny and happy and very safe environment.” Given the directors dark visions on the silver screen, one might imagine Fincher’s childhood was similarly gloomy, but the opposite is true. “ Although for about six to eight months, the zodiac killer was around”… “ We were all be followed by the California Highway patrol in our little yellow school buses, but that was kind of the only thing to break the idyllic patina.But before he had even reached his teens, Fincher was already being driven by his artistic urges, ‘ I would spend hours in my bedroom drawing. I could never get my hands to do it the way I had it imagined in my head” Fincher always wanted to someday have the skill to draw exactly what he saw in his head, and then be able to show it to somebody, and if they liked it then hopefully then he could have been able to transfer this thing through apparatus to this, and then he says” you’ll truly know your worth”. Fincher, we could say had quite an interesting childhood when it came to his ‘humorous’ pranks. The director opened up about his favourite childhood prank, confessing he and a pal would roll the toys in ketchup and raw meat - to simulate blood and guts - hurl them onto the freeway and watch horrified drivers screech to a halt.
Fincher is well known for his dark, visual style and believes in “ Doing the best you can and trying to live it down” David’s trade marks are also well known for their ‘ music video’ style, especially his opening, in a sense that they are always so vivid. His heavy desaturatedcoloursalways give a’ dark and dangerous’ atmosphere. He uses his pallet significantly to portray something important.For example in The fight scene in Fight club, He gave the interior a decayed look to illustrate the deconstructed world of the characters.He also avoided stylish cinematography when filming the early fight scenes In the basement, instead places the camera in a fixed position. Fincher then moved the camera from viewpoint of a distant observer to that of the fighter. Fincher use of bland and realistic setting relates throughout all three of my focus films. Therefore Fincher is seen as an auteur for giving all of his films a specific style, preferably all dark, dingy and almost surreal. Fincher still equates the ‘play’ of being a director with the childhood endeavours of his youth: ‘ When I was a kid I loved to draw, and I loved my electric football sets and I painted little things and made sculptures and did matte painting and comic books and illustrated stuff, and took pictures, had a darkroom, loved to tape record stuff. [directing is] all of that. Its not having to grow up.’
My Focus Film is the award winning Fight club“Much of Fight club’s look comes from the tension between the bland, washed-out nature of the ‘outside’ world and the heavy darkness of Tyler Durdens secret society”“Fight club is about the monstrous thrill of violence and the fragility of men.”This significant quote from Fincher himself, and through my investigation, I discovered some really exotic examples of the ‘washed out’ and heavy darkness in the mise-en-scene especially. I then started to pick out specific screenshots of the film and analyse them further.
David said that “ fight club was something that I related to as a man; on a masculine, 1990 era level, it was something that I really understood. I understood the anger behind it and I understood the frustration behind it…” He also went on to say that “ I always saw the violence in this movie as a metaphor for drug use”David Fincher has taken Chuck Palahniuk’s novel and created an amazing, grungy, surreal tale in true Fincher fashion. “Fight Club cant be ignored, its an American beauty … that threatens the smug American centre with an anger that cannot explain itself, can act out in inexplicable violence” To some extent, I found that the ‘truth’ about the Male roll in American life 1990 was exposed throughout this film, especially in the fight sequences.
I’ve specifically chosen these scenes as they all convey the revealing of truth in many different ways. Fincher chooses to leave it right to the end, which is rather down beat and un-concluding until the audience establishes ‘Tyler Durden’ is not a real person, but actually in the protagonist’s mind. We could argue These scenes are clues that lead us to discover some truth about the characters.Mise-en-scene : Fincher’s use of the low key light and Desaturated colors within the majority of sets, portray the deconstruction of the characters lives, while also giving it the ‘dark and dangerous’ style that Fincher has. To me; it also implies there are secrets beneath the characters while the ‘blue and green tint’ also gives the impression of ‘lies’, ‘loneliness’ and ‘isolation’. This is another well-known trade mark of David’s; he tends to give the low key lighting a green or blue tinted colour. I feel that David Fincher uses these techniques to give his audience the ‘truth’ while the characters are unaware, in another sense this would be seen as dramatic irony, Fincher doesn’t want to give too much away through dialogue, but through the colour, costume, make-up, light and setting.However, I also discovered that “ Psychology isn't Fincher’s bag; he isn't interested in what lies and writhes beneath, but what is right there: the visible evidence”. This statement made by Fincher himself, stands by my point that Fincher prominently uses the ‘mise-en-scene’ to tell the audience everything they want and need to know.
The sound used in Fight club, is pretty much contempary, compared to the two other relates films, the specific screenshots I have chosen all present a variety of sound techniques I thought revealed a little truth in a subtle way.1. Screenshot one shows a CCTV footage of the nameless protagonist being dragged through the parking lot by Tyler Durden. (who is not really there)The use of mostly diegetic sound that Fincher has put in here is really impressive. Throughout all his use of sound, it is still somewhat, silent to the level where you can almost hear every little sound which created more drama and suspense, which is what Fincher does best. The constant growls of men, shouting, bashing cars/floors, slamming doors, glass shattering, feet dragging across the floor, stumbling down concrete stairs; all give this drama and in my opinion, is the narratives point of deconstruction in the way it reveals the lie. These sounds are made hyperbolic to exaggerate the exposure of the truth. Fincher creates this ‘onomatopoeic’ sense by making these diegetic sounds even louder than they would realistically be to imply the damage the truth has done. 2. David’s use of diegetic sound again, with the two men in the bar, and everyone around them gives an honest impression of the characters, however Fincher creates a shady and hushed atmosphere by making the diegetic sounds louder, for example there is a snooker ball being potted in the background , I believe David used this sound specifically to connote something being harshly ‘thrown away’ and hid in the dark. Again relates to the ‘Truth’ being hid away, ans almost ‘ potted ‘ somewhere else to later be revealed. In this case it symbolises that the protagonist isn't really talking to anyone in the bar, while also giving it a realistic feel to make the audience believe at first and play them along.3. Non diegetic of Marla’s footsteps as she walks in and reveals herself while a narrative voice over Is played from protagonist’s perspective. We then hear non diegetic soundtrack of a light sound of percussion drums as they all the ‘cancer’ patients sit in a circle. The use of percussion instruments signifies, to me; that there is something not quite right with the character that we have just met; Marla. The other diegetic sound that struck the truth to me was the sound of Marla, lighting her cigarette. By it being silent in the background, Fincher made this really clear that this character was definitely holding down the truth and lying to everyone. Referring to the mise-en-scene, Fincher has created a smoky room created by her cigarette, which reflects there is something beneath the thick clusters of smoke and her true identity hides behind it. 4. Fincher carefully chooses to create even more of a silent atmosphere by adding ambient sounds such as the owl and a train horn in the background as ‘ Tyler’ and the protagonist walk out as a two. While also the clear sounds of the diegetic sounds makes it seem more real when its not. Therefore Fincher uses sound or silence to portray the truth, even though its not the real truth. 5. The Non diegetic sound of the Percussion sound track is something that Fincher conventionally uses throughout his films. In fight club there is more of it, to not only synchronise with the genre but also the characters, because we get to know them more, we feel more of a personal response towards them, this reveals truth about the ‘people’ we are seeing. This is scene uses the sound track until the door slams shut behind them.6. . Fincher makes use of the diegetic sounds significantly; the door slamming behind characters is very common in his films, it almost suggests that the ‘truth’ has been left behind and shut out, as the characters walk away. It could also connote other messages like, ‘ Danger’ or ‘violence.’ The narrative voice over, which is also used throughout gives us sense of ‘truth’ as it’s the protagonists mind we are hearing and getting to know. Again Fincher makes lots of use of the diegetic sounds, dripping of water, wood creaking, doors squeaking and water running are all realistic sounds we as the spectators can relate to.
-The slow paced editing is used here to imply that the truth has now been exposed. When there is a silence, and the sound track is almost not heard, the use of the CGI explosion, which is the narratives ‘round off’ , shows the consequences of the protagonists lack of control of his mind. At this point, Fincher has revealed the ‘Truth’ and the audience are now recovering from that, however there is false sense of security as the explosion of the city takes over to end the narrative. As well as being unconventional with no new equilibrium ; the editing techniques that create our response are very conventional, and common through Fincher’s films. “ There is never a happy ending with me”, Fincher’s statement is purely a fact that shows in all his films that either end in suicide, or attempted suicide. -The use of flashing lights and fast flashing shots that almost overpower the screen right at the end of this scene; makes Fincher’s style look more contemporary, even though his films are not. -Another trade mark is presented here, Fincher has made use of his powerful silhouettes
Fincher again, showed his dark, visual talent in zodiac, which also relates to my problematic, revealing and exposing the ;truth, except in this case, its difficult to discover in the end. Fincher is careful in a sense, he chooses what he wants the audience to find out here, or not not know…“ I remember coming home from school and having the Highway Patrol follow our school bus… It happened for a couple of days and I remember going to my dad, who was a writer, worked at home, who said: “Oh that’s right, yeah, there was a guy who’s murdered four people and he’s sent a letter to the newspaper threatening to take a high-powered rifle and shoot out the tires of a school bus and kill the children on it.”… “I remember that was the first time I really wondered whether my parents were competent to take care of children- “I remember being on the playground where the kids were saying: “Zodiac called Jim Dunbar, Zodiac called Jim Dunbar!” . It was a very odd time.But going back and seeing it from the perspective of an adult was even weirder, when you actually look at this case and at the characters and you realise, you couldn’t make this stuff up. So, it’s been interesting… not a walk down memory lane, but it’s interesting to have the perspective of being on a bus going: “Someone’s going to shoot us…” And then being an adult and looking at it and going: “Oh, that’s a fairly calculated risk. This guy is killing people in Vallejo and Napa and we’re 25 or 35 miles from that so we’re all safe.” But I remember at the time thinking my parents were lunatics.As Fincher grew up in the environment when the Zodiac was about, I thought he made his film a little more personal, while also being his first feature to be filmed in a digital format. “Zodiac” was a slower, more deliberate film than any of Finchers previous efforts. This also marks a turning point in the directors oeuvre .
Truth:In screenshot two the subtitles come up and say “ October 11,1970 – san Francisco, CA The corner of Washington and Cherry” To give the audience a real, personal sense of the era. This is not the only Film that Fincher uses the subtitles in this way. In my other relates film ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ also does this as it’s a long in depth investigation, which also pulls the audience along with them to do where they are and what is going on. It also gives more sense of Truth by the exact dates and places given.Referring back to Fincher’s visual exposing, Screen shot 4 clearly signifies the ‘truth’ and another clue to lead the audience. In a sense Fincher uses most props to give out clues and messages, this is the narratives turning point, where something is ‘ found out’. Screen shot 3 shows truth and exposure mostly through the acting and positions; As the Protagonist is centred in the middle of the evidence and investigation is either side of him in the background, this conveyed the ‘Truth’ being around him and almost as if it’s ‘ closing in ‘ on him. Fincher does purely to reveal the ‘truth’ through the visuals. This reminded me of Fight Club as it achieves the same thing; revealing and exposing Truth through visuals.
Researcher quotes: “ … The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is very much Fincher’s bag, it’s a dark, violent, emotional, meaningful and in places, funny. According to Fincher, its essentially him.” Fincher’s Quote:“ I’m sure my cynicism shows in some way, certainly elements of humour. And an aesthetic. I look at what I photograph as being very natural. To me that’s what the world looks like.” This quote from Fincher himself, proved that he constructs his films to look and feel natural, In this related film, he does it significantly.
Here are some of the most natural screenshots in this film.The common trade mark of David Fincher is again, clearly illustrated in this other related film; the blue and green tint, which seems to be either outside, or inside. Fincher uses these contrast of colours in every one of my three films which also gives his auteur style more truth and reality. This film is similar in the way that Fincher reveals truth through the Sound, Mise-en-scene, cinematography and editing. He specifically uses visuals to create this sense of truth, while also revealing something. For example, the last three screenshots are specially crafted to give the audience a sense of Elizabeth’s character. Fincher gives us the true identity of his characters, and exposes us to their lives as individuals. - Fincher, in his style, shows similarity with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Zodiac. Both films clearly display his dark, vivid style being more of a ‘Thriller’ than a ‘Drama’. Again I noticed, desaturated colour pallets to connote the atmosphere, which Fincher is best at.
David Fincher is a truthful auteur. He shares his experiences in his life when he lost his Father who encouraged him to be so truthful. “ I remember the experience of being there when he breathed his last breath. It was incredibly profound. When you lose someone who helped form you in lots of way, who is you ‘true north’, you lose the barometer of your life….your no longer trying to please someone… no longer reacting against something… your truly alone” -I feel he has related his truthful opinions and beliefs in his films. Therefore I can say his life has a great encouragement for him to do this. Especially his Father, who always told him to ‘ be true to himself’. This is what inspired me to investigate David Fincher.
To conclude, David Fincher, in my opinion; reveals and exposes the truth through the three different films I have investigated. He also appears to give his narratives a sense of truth even though the truth is not there. Therefore I felt Fincher either reveals the truth, or exposes it through something else the audience doesn’t see to begin with.Fincher simply symbolises the meaning of ‘Auteur’ for being a truthful, experimental and undeniable. Fincher states the obvious for what is really there, this is what intrigued me to investigate him as a film director. His visuals are so powerful and meaningful when really explored. Furthermore, although his personal life didn’t really reflect in any film, his beliefs and attitude to life did, as he too thought ‘being true to yourself is important’.
Auteur df project draft1!! [autosaved]
David Fincher’s quotes• “… I was aware of a visceral response to art direction, the first time I was aware that I was being told things about people and the story through their surroundings and not through exposition”
Biography• About Fincher:• Born 28th August 1962• Born In Denver, Colorado• Parents: Howard and Claire Fincher.• Raised in : California• School: Ashland High school• Took classes in: Art/drawing/ painting/sculpture.• Went to film festival
Why is David Fincher an Auteur?• Auteur = A director who exercises creative control over his works and has a strong sense of Personal style
Facts and Features of Fight Club• Inspired by the novel written by Chuck Palahniuk• Nominated an Oscar, Brit, CDG Award, Video premiere Award• WON Empire award for Best British Actress• Fincher relates to the masculine era and violence in the film, which he shows in his films with the brutal fight scenes.• Domestic total Gross: $37,030,102• World Wide Total Gross: $100,853,753
• Screen shot 1: Diegetic shouting, screaming, punching, bashing against floors slamming doors, glass shattering. Non diegetic regular one tone, low key tune that holds. Footsteps crawling across s floor• Screenshot 2: Sound bridge, diegetic, men in bar, snooker ball being potted,• Screenshot 3: diegetic footsteps also her lighting cigarette, narrative voice over, turns to non diegetic when light sound of percussion• Screenshot 4: Diegetic, ambient, owl/bird background, footsteps, punching, dialogue, “hit me”, diegetic – train horn? Non diegetic; piano,• Screenshot 5: Non diegetic, sound track, diegetic footsteps in puddles, throwing of beer bottle, burp!• Screenshot 6: Narrative v.o (non diegetic) diegetic- door slamming shut behind them, drips of tap water, wood snapping/squeaking, water running
• Last scene only• Clip: http://youtu.be/x9Huy-JP1xo• Screenshot:
ZodiacFacts and features:• Nominated: Toronto Film Critics Associationfor ‘Best director’ and ‘ Best picture’. The Oklahoma Film Critics Circle award also for ‘Best picture’, The Golden Satellite Award, Detroit Film Critics Society award, The Writers Guild of America award, Southeastern Film Critics Association award, Chicago Film Critics Association award.• First feature to be filmed in digital format Domestic Total Gross: $33,080,084 Distributor:Paramount Release Date:March 2, 2007 Genre: Thriller Runtime: 2 hrs. 36 min. MPAA Rating: R Production Budget: $65 million
• Facts and features: Won: Oscar award for well achieved editing • “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is very much Fincher’s bag, it’s a dark, violent, emotional, meaninful and in places, funny. According to Fincher, its essentially him.” Domestic Total Gross: $102,515,793Distributor: Sony / Columbia Release Date:December 21, 2011Genre: Thriller Runtime: 2 hrs. 40 min.MPAA Rating: R Production Budget: $90 million