Sorry, I just can’t call it Se7en, even though that is apparently its actual title.

I worked long and hard to put the ’90s behind me, I’m not going back there now.

First, let me say that this has one of the greatest title sequences of all time (by R/Greenberg, I believe). I think you have to go back to Return of the Pink Panther to find a better one.

The script, by Andrew Kevin Walker, could have been shot in a flashy, superficial manner to match its sensational subject matter, but David Fincher (and his great DP, Darius Khonji) shoot the hell out of this thing, giving grace, subtlety and gravitas to what might have otherwise been a standard-issue thriller.

The conceit of the plot, which imagines a killer of superhuman cruelty and deviousness, sometimes distracts one from the wonderful character work by all the cast. These stock characters (the world-weary detective on the verge of retirement, his hothead new partner, their blustering superior, the guy guy scraping the name off the office door, so forth) are re-imagined and given new life by Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, R. Lee Ermey and the rest. Their interplay is terrific, they make these guys seem real somehow.

As an added bonus, this is, to my knowledge, the only movie to feature Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in a box.

Another excellent transfer of a most handsomely shot movie. And a triumph of production design by Arthur Max.

And, for those playing along at the “Voucher Ankles” site, there is, of course, a “Merchant of Venice” tie-in in Seven. A lawyer is forced to cut off, yes, a pound of flesh. He (of course) dies from his self-inflicted wounds, and the killer leaves a (completely bogus) quote from “Merchant” at the crime scene. Imagine my dismay when, in 1995, having written and directed my own adaptation of Merchant, hearing Morgan Freeman (himself a great Shakespearean actor) recite this bit of invented poesy and then intone “Merchant of Venice.”

Come to think of it, I’d love to see Freeman play Antonio some time. Now there’s some subtext.
hit counter html code


24 Responses to “Seven”
  1. eronanke says:

    I would like to see Freeman as Malvolio from Twelth Night.

    PS- Have you seen “Titus”? Simply Amazing.

  2. rennameeks says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your decision *not* to call this movie Se7en. That sort of thing is fine for movie posters, but not for the proper title of a film.

  3. urbaniak says:

    According to the the poster it’s called “Seven.” Actually, the “n” looks more like a lopsided “r” so I guess the correct title is “Sever.” Which makes sense.

  4. urbaniak says:

    BTW, I love the idea of a character recognizing fake Shakespeare. I think this could be taken a step further: I’d like to see a crime show where the senior detective always attributes to Shakespeare any piece of writing found at a crime scene. Examples:

    YOUNGER PARTNER: Look, a note. (Reads): “The bitch had it coming.”
    SENIOR DETECTIVE (with great world weariness): Hamlet…

    YOUNGER PARTNER (examining a blood-stained wall): Wait a minute. This isn’t just stains. It’s writing. (Slowly deciphering the scrawl): “Bang bang…you’re dead…brush your teeth…and go to bed.”
    SENIOR DETECTIVE (his eyes gleaming with recognition): Richard III…

    YOUNGER PARTNER: “To whoever finds this note: You’re next.”
    SENIOR DETECTIVE (violently grabs the note; reads it, then closes his eyes. After a beat, he looks directly at his partner): The Two Noble Kinsmen.

    The possibilities are endless! (Measure for Measure.)