Realized by VFX house Digital Domain, under the visual direction of Kevin Tod Haug for David Fincher's post-punk soliloquy, irreverence and lack of context are perhaps this sequence’s greatest assets, aided further by a mash-up Dust Brothers score cranked to 11 and a rave-flyer-inspired sans serif typeface designed by the late P. Scott Makela.
In the sequence, we follow a path outwards from the “fear center” of our protagonist's brain, moving through various cerebral micro-landscapes and exiting a skin pore, gracefully ending between the sights of a Smith and Wesson 4506 pointed into his mouth.
This immediate relationship between cause and effect – where the source of fear is linked directly to the chemistry behind that emotion – establishes that the violence in Fight Club is not trivial. For as many times as the movie-going public has seen a gun in someone’s mouth, they've never considered its tangible emotional weight – at least, not to the visceral extent of Fight Club. It's a sentiment that isn't easily forgotten during the film’s many, many fight scenes.
Feature audio commentary excerpt with director David Fincher (from the Two-Disc Collector's Edition DVD):
The opening title sequence was supposed to be starting inside the fear center of Edward Norton's brain. The electricity is like photo electrical stimuli that is running through his brain. These are supposed to be impulses, fear-based impulses. We are changing scale the whole time so we're starting at the size of a dendrite [and] we are pulling back through the frontal lobes, going through this black section where there are particles; we've left the brain and are going through the skull casing. This is inside the skull where Arnon's name appears, inside bone where apparently there is some fluid in, which I did not know. And then we pull out through this clogged pore. The first time we showed this to [Edward] he said, "My face is not that dirty." And I said that this was all based on actual photographs...of your skin.
Main Title Type Design: P. Scott Makela
Visual Effects Supervisor: Kevin Tod Haug
Visual Effects Supervisor: Kevin Mack
Opening Sequence Team Leads: David W. Prescott, Judith Crow
Special Visual Effects and Digital Animation: Digital Domain