A film about two homicide detectives' (Morgan Freeman and (Brad Pitt desperate hunt for a serial killer who justifies his crimes as absolution for the world's ignorance of the Seven Deadly Sins. The movie takes us from the tortured remains of one victim to the next as the sociopathic "John Doe" (Kevin Spacey) sermonizes to Detectives Somerset and Mills -- one sin at a time. The sin of Gluttony comes first and the murderer's terrible capacity is graphically demonstrated in the dark and subdued tones characteristic of film noir. The seasoned and cultured but jaded Somerset researches the Seven Deadly Sins in an effort to understand the killer's modus operandi while the bright but green and impulsive Detective Mills (Pitt) scoffs at his efforts to get inside the mind of a killer... Written by
Mark Fleetwood <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The seven deadly sins are: Lust - to have an intense desire or need: "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Gluttony - excess in eating and drinking: "for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags" (Proverbs 23:21). Greed - excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness: "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more" (Ephesians 4:19). Sloth - also known as laziness; disinclined to activity or exertion: not energetic or vigorous: "The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway" (Proverbs 15:19). Wrath - strong vengeful anger or indignation: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1) Envy - painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage: "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation" (1 Peter 2:1-2). Pride - quality or state of being proud - inordinate self esteem: "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). See more »
John Doe murders Tracy Mills, mails her head to her husband, and then turns him in to her husband immediately after, still covered in her blood, which resulted from the murder scene. This means that he would have had to go to the delivery man--who tells Somerset that he was hired to deliver the package--covered in Tracy's blood, and looking like he just killed someone, without arousing any suspicion. See more »
Neighbors heard them screaming at each other, like for two hours, and it was nothing new. Then they heard the gun go off, both barrels. Crime of passion.
Yeah, just look at all the passion on that wall.
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The opening credits are done over broken, blurred images of John Doe removing the skin from his fingertips and sewing it into his journals. See more »
Seldom does a film elucidate the culpability of our culture,of our society, in the mayhem and madness we often find in everyday life. According to Se7en, our culture is drifting through darkness. The mouthpiece for this thematic undercurrent is Somerset, a literate man who also happens to be a detective, a man who can read a clue ("This isn't going to be a happy ending") or Dante's Inferno with equal aplomb. He even provides the film's final thematic statement with a quote from Hemingway. His quirkiness, perhaps the outgrowth of a brilliant mind, is no worse than that of any prophet or seer of old, those harbingers of Biblical insight whom others always find kooky and offbeat. He is not well loved for his cynical, pessimistic outlook (such that his consuming motivation is to retire and get out of town). However, by the end it becomes clear that it is Somerset who sees our dark world with the prophet's particular clarity. (It is left to his partner Mills to find this out the hard way).
Working on us to reinforce this world as Somerset sees it is the film's astounding mise-en-scene, a disturbing film-noir setting developed by director David Fincher and cinematographer Darius Khondji. Flashlights barely illuminate the slimy walls of the roach-infested tenement of one victim and the dark bedroom of another. Rain pours down in buckets. Bird's-eye-view shots of downtown (the city is never named- a generic, everyman's kind of place) show dingy, sooty rooftops and grimy streets. Only the film's closing scene is in bright sunlight, which by then only serves as ironic counterpoint to what we see happening.
This is Somerset's vision; both inhabited and described by him. He finds a surprising fellow traveler in, not his partner, but the elusive killer John Doe. Doe shares the vision and provides an unsettling echo to the rumblings and teachings of Somerset. If one looks at life through the Somerset lens, one must admit that John Doe has a valid point. He and Somerset have arrived at the same conclusion, the difference between them being how they have responded. (Somerset longs to escape to some otherworldly realm in the country. Doe has taken action.)
Though gripping and fast moving, this is not an action film. It holds our interest through the workings of horror and mystery: a stark, film-noir detective piece. Except for one tense pursuit through halls and alleys in pouring rain, as well as the bit of ending action, there is surprisingly little violence. We see each murder, save two, after the fact, as a crime scene. This only makes the final act that much more suspenseful.
This is a very tight film. Elements within: dialogue, actions, lighting, setting, all of these tend to reinforce one another to paint a solid picture. It is a perverse logic that makes the final and seventh sin complete perfectly the circle of events begun with the first.
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