No buildings were harmed in this new ending.
Everyone knows how Fight Club ends. The cult classic ends with the Narrator (Edward Norton) killing his split personality Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), and watching the buildings outside the windows explode and collapse as he holds hands with Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter).
It’s an iconic ending that makes all of us realize we might all be in a weird place in our lives while giving us a sense of strange hope.
But in China, the film’s new online release is getting a new ending.
The Chinese streaming site, Tencent Video, removed the entire explosion scene, and viewers are told that the state successfully busted Tyler’s plan to destroy the world. The captions state: “Through a clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.”
Imported films are often altered to show that law enforcement, on the side of justice, will always trump the villain. It is unclear if the ending was altered out of self-censorship or by government order, but a source familiar with the matter told Vice that the film was edited by the copyright owner and then approved by the government before it was sold to streaming sites for distribution.
Although Fight Club was shown in Chinese cinemas during the Shanghai International Film Festival, it is unclear whether that version of the film was altered. The film has received more than 740,000 reviews and a high rating of 9 out of 10 on the film review site Douban, which indicates that many fans of the film likely watched a pirated version of the film.
Screenshots of the new ending went viral on Chinese social media over the weekend, and the Fight Club fans who praised the original ending were deeply offended. Some say the censorship is why Chinese viewers have preferred bootleg copies of the film.
One of the main critiques Chinese viewers have is that the entire theme and story are altered, telling the audience that there is a clear line between good and evil. There is no ambiguity left for the audience to enjoy the complexities of the story.
China’s censorship system ensures that TV programs, dramas, and films that are released to the public reflect what the Communist Party deems to be correct aesthetics, morality, and ideology. Domestic films carefully design their plots, dialogue, and casting to avoid anything that would trigger censorship, and foreign films that get approved often suffer from major cuts because some scenes are deemed too violent, sexually explicit, or subversive.
In some cases, films get completely botched by the censorship system and change the storyline or ending. Anything that implies that the government and its authority are not the good guys in the end is altered to reflect the ideas of the government.
Producers from Hong Kong sometimes create a more censorship-friendly version of a film just for the mainland Chinese market, while releasing their uncensored version of the film to the rest of the world. These mainland versions often show gangsters being rounded up, or ugly crimes taking place when Hong Kong was still a British colony.
Let us know in the comments what you think about the new Fight Club ending!