Rules be damned, people can’t stop talking about Fight Club. This week, viewers noticed that the ending to David Fincher‘s 1999 cult classic has been altered ahead of its debut on Chinese streamer Tencent Video. Ironically enough, perhaps the only person not up-in-arms about the changed ending is author Chuck Palahniuk, who penned the 1996 novel on which Fincher’s film is based.
In an interview with TMZ, Palahniuk pointed out that the Chinese’s version actually hews closer to his book than the uncensored movie did. In the film’s original conclusion, Edward Norton‘s narrator murders his alter ego (Brad Pitt) and blows up several skyscrapers, but in the Chinese version the authorities save the day. A translated version of the title card reads: “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 a lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
In the book, the narrator’s elaborate plan also fails—not because of law enforcement intervention, but because the bomb malfunctions. He then shoots himself in the head and winds up in a mental hospital.
“The irony is that the way the Chinese have changed it, they aligned the ending almost exactly with the ending of the book, as opposed to Fincher’s ending, which was the most spectacular visual ending,” Palahniuk told TMZ. “So in a way, the Chinese brought the ending back to the book a little bit.”
The author maintained that he didn’t think this was the Chinese government’s intent. Still, he finds the backlash against the censorship to be ironic. “What I find really interesting is that my books are heavily banned throughout the US,” Palahniuk said. “The Texas prison system refuses to carry my books in its 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.”
Palahnuik’s nonchalant response comes in light of multiple international adaptations that have altered his book. “A lot of my overseas publishers have edited the novel itself so that the novel ends the way the movie ends,” I explained. “So I’ve been dealing with this kind of revision for like, 25 years.”
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