In a stark example of China’s model of censorship and authoritarianism, a version of the 1999 movie Fight Club appeared online, with an edited ending for a Chinese audience in which the police ‘figure out the whole plan’, arrest the protagonists and ship them off to a lunatic asylum.
In the original ending, Edward Norton’s character watches as multiple buildings explode, the culmination of his alter ego Tyler Durden’s plot to bring down a corrupt, consumerism obsessed civilisation.
However, as Vice notes, in the version distributed in China that end scene is cut and replaced with a black screen and a caption reading “Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.”
It adds, “After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment.”
The report notes that “the film was edited by the copyright owner and then approved by the government before it was sold to streaming sites for distribution. The Chinese publisher of the film, Pacific Audio & Video Co., is an affiliate of the state-owned Guangdong TV.”
The author of the book Fight Club is based on weighed in via a Substack posting, writing “Tyler and the gang were all arrested. He was tried and sentenced to a mental asylum. How amazing. I’d no idea! Justice always wins. Nothing ever exploded. Fini.”
Others submitted their own contributions via Twitter:
Of course, this is entirely commonplace for all western movies and shows played in China. As Bloomberg notes, a version of the 2005 movie Lord of War starring Nicholas Cage as an arms smuggler ends with the final 30 minutes of footage replaced with white text on a black screen saying “Yuri Orlov confessed all the crimes officially charged against him in court, and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the end.”
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