Article | Almost 30 years later, ‘Se7en – The Seven Deadly Crimes’ remains David Fincher’s best film
David Fincher is one of the most well-known and acclaimed directors on the film scene, whose career spans over very insightful titles that have become a huge success due to their depth of themes and an automatically recognizable stylistic drive. It’s no surprise that Fincher is considered not just a filmmaker, but an author, managing to chart a creative line that set him apart from others in his rise to stardom.
For those who don’t remember, Fincher made his official debut in 1992 by commanding ‘Alien³’third chapter of the sci-fi saga of Ridley Scott – but problems with the extinct 20th Century Fox and the executives behind the production company and the feature forced him to renounce any involvement with the title. So, taking into account the director’s decision, it is only normal that we consider his debut three years later, with the great culmination of ‘Se7en – The Seven Capital Crimes’a mystery thriller that is remembered to this day as one of the best of its kind to have graced the big screen.
Released in 1995, the story takes several conventionalisms of suspense films and brings two detectives who are chasing an extremely dangerous serial killer into the spotlight. Morgan Freeman plays Detective William Somerset, a local police veteran who is credited with partnering young Detective David Mills (played by none other than Brad Pitt). After coming across a gruesome scene in which a man was forced to eat until his stomach exploded, the duo find themselves on the trail of a serial killer intent on making his mark on the world by collecting victims that reference the seven deadly sins. portrayed in Catholic mythology. And with each new clue they find, the killer’s plan becomes more concrete and casts a cloud of anguish across the city.
Despite the positive reviews at the time of release, not everyone fell in love with the plot built by Fincher – probably for the scenic rawness portrayed in each of the murders and in how the story unfolds to deliver us a terrible conclusion. But, almost thirty years later, the growing importance of the feature film for understanding the meaning of filmmaking and for reflections on audiovisual allegories, the human psyche and tragedy as a social spectacle is remarkable. It is not surprising, therefore, that the feature is one of the best released by Fincher and that, even with the recognition, it deserved our attention even more.
One of the main themes is, as we can imagine, the multiple narratives that deal with the seven deadly sins. The set of sins represents a kind of human weakness and man’s departure from the divine – which explains his worldliness and makes him liable to make several mistakes. However, in ‘Se7en’the notability of human error takes on a new proportion, in which the villain known as John Doe (and who is revealed to us to be Kevin Spacey only in the final act of the work) wants to expose the rottenness of those who hide who they really are through a mandatory confrontation with the inner demons.
The first sin to be “eternalized” is that of gluttony, in which an obese man is tied to a chair and forced to eat until he dies (mentioned above in the paragraphs above); the second features a defense attorney forced to cut off nearly a pound of his own flesh and dying of hemorrhage, representing greed; the third refers to a drug dealer and pedophile who was incarcerated in a bed unable to move, representing laziness; the fourth forces a man to rape a prostitute with a girdle made of knives, alluding to lust; the fifth victim, symbol of pride; is a model whose face was mutilated by John Doe, having the option of living the rest of her life disfigured or committing suicide by taking a considerable amount of pills; and, finally, the murderer himself and Mills’ impetus complete the cycle of terror with envy and wrath, respectively.
Numerous references can be seen in the events that take shape: Dante Alighieri and yours ‘Divine Comedy’as well as Geoffrey Chaucer and ‘The Canterbury Tales’are brought into Fincher’s twisted mind and into the script of Andrew Kevin Walker. Both classic literary productions gain a modernized and revamped appearance in which the teachings and social types immortalized by Alighieri and Chaucer are transposed into the imminent ruin of what we know as humanity and how, eventually, nothing we do matters in the face of the inexorability of our sins. . Well, even William Shakespeare and ‘The merchant of Venice’ are mentioned indirectly in the feature film, in which the antagonist Shylock is one of the personifications embodied by John Doe – although the characterization of the character is subject to considerable problems.
But that’s not all: John Doe’s goal is to prove a point – that goodness doesn’t exist and that we are all doomed to make drastic mistakes. As we see in the film, the detectives in charge of the case are unable to solve it; on the contrary, it is the murderer who decides to turn himself in to the police and reveal where the final victims are, as long as Somerset and Mills accompany him. If they refuse to take him, he will plead insanity and emerge unscathed from the crimes he committed. And it is in this act of triumph, which materializes Spacey’s character’s plans, that the two protagonists face themselves in a fight for what they represent. In a complex retelling of ‘Oedipus King’the already conflicted personality of the investigators is brushed with the belligerent clash between the stoicism and integrity of Somerset and the explosive impetuosity of Mills – whose fate written in an ironic sort of fortunae is what foreshadows the unhappiness of the grand finale.
‘Se7en – The Seven Capital Crimes’ remains alive as one of the greatest masterpieces of the seventh art and, even using formulas constantly seen in the genre, it manages to transform itself into something original and that takes our breath away from the first to the last minute.
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