“Seven” – the story of a religious maniac-murderer
Genre: thriller, detective, drama, neo-noir
Year of production: 1995
Director: David Fincher
Actors: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow
Detective drama “Seven» (Seven) directed by David Fincher tells about the investigation of a string of brutal murders. Two police officers – the heroes of Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt – unwittingly become participants in a crazy game imposed on them by a maniac played by Kevin Spacey.
The essence of the film “Seven” is in the criminal’s attempt to restore justice by eradicating the seven deadly sins of mankind. But he does it perversely – torturing and killing his victims.
What is the movie about
New York, 90s of the 20th century. William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and David Mills (Brad Pitt) are two detectives investigating another murder. At first, nothing is known about these two, except that Somerset is going to finish his service in the police and in seven days goes to a well-deserved retirement. However, it immediately becomes clear that Freeman’s hero will not be able to end his career so soon – the future business promises to be too serious.
Brad Pitt played the role of David Mills. Frame from the film.
In a dirty apartment full of stench and cockroaches, the police find the body of a murdered man. At first, they decide that he simply died of a heart attack, because with a weight of 300 kg it is difficult to maintain a healthy heart. But then it becomes clear – this is a victim of a brutal murder.
The maniac first tied the fat man, and then tortured him, feeding him to death. Behind the refrigerator on the wall, Detective Somerset finds an explanation – the inscription “gluttony”. He understands that this victim is far from the last on the account of the insidious killer.
Somerset’s relationship with a young partner does not work out at first. Detective Mills believes that he is not appreciated enough, not trusted, that Somerset has a personal dislike for him. Only the intervention of Mills’ wife Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow) helps to establish a connection between men. She invites William to dinner with them and reconciles Somerset with Mills, bringing them closer.
The next victim of the killer is a well-known lawyer in New York. Next to his body in the office, the detectives find “Greed” written in blood. Somerset is the first to guess that the maniac is trying to eradicate the seven deadly sins. He lists all seven and says that the killer will not stop, there will be more victims. But he himself refuses the case, handing it over to Mills.
The third victim of the killer is the unfortunate Theodore Allen or “Victor”. He is a mentally ill drug addict convicted of attempted rape. At first, the detectives decide that he is the killer, but later it turns out that Allen is just another object of the maniac’s retribution.
Gwyneth Paltrow starring Tracey Mills. Frame from the film.
The unfortunate man was tied to the bed for a whole year. All this time, an unknown criminal fed him, paid for his apartment, but did not allow him to move. As a result, the half-dead body of “Victor” was found by Mills and Somerset. His torment was a “punishment” for a mortal sin – laziness.
The fourth and fifth victims of the maniac were women. The first is a prostitute who died as a result of rape with a knife, the second is a proud, beautiful actress, whose face was mutilated by the killer before his death.
“Lust” and “pride” – these are the next two sins that the maniac tried to eradicate. By that time, the detectives had already realized that the criminal was educated and smart, and his actions were connected with the biblical canons.
William Somerset guesses that the well-read killer must have often visited the library. It was among the readers that he figured out the maniac, having learned his address and name. The madman turned out to be a certain John Doe (Kevin Spacey). The two detectives visit him, but he, unexpectedly meeting them in the corridor, runs away, shooting back. While trying to catch up with him, Mills is injured. At one point, John Doe nearly kills him, but at the last moment he puts away his gun and escapes.
When Mills and Somerset are already losing hope of finding a maniac, he suddenly comes to them himself, surrendering to justice. He declares that there are two more victims, because there are seven deadly sins. John Doe promises to lead the detectives to the bodies. They go where the criminal tells them to go. Stopping in the middle of the desert, Doe asks the detectives what time it is. Hearing that it is already seven o’clock, he says: “Soon.”
A van approaches them, from which a guy gets out and says that he delivered a package for Detective Mills. Somerset opens the box and walks away, horrified. Doe tells Mills that he killed his wife, that she begged him to keep her and her unborn child alive, and that her head is now in that box.
Somerset begs Mills not to kill Doe, because he “wants exactly this.” Dow himself asks Mills: “Kill me, become the seventh sin. Become angry! A shocked Mills shoots Doe and kills him.
The role of William Somerset was played by Morgan Freeman. Frame from the film.
After the “Silence of the Lambs” thundered in 1990, the theme of maniacs and insane (but ideological) serial killers became especially popular. The script for the film “Seven” was seen as promising by many directors, but David Fincher was the first to take it up. He saw in this dark, cruel and depressing scenario a deep idea, and even more than one.
Plan Doe and Scripture
John Doe’s crimes were based on the idea of the seven deadly sins from Scripture. The list was fixed in the Christian tradition by Pope Gregory I the Great. According to him, gluttony, greed, idleness, pride, lust, envy and anger are considered the most reprehensible. The maniac follows the biblical canons, carefully choosing victims and punishing the unfortunate with their own vices.
It is no coincidence that he punishes a fat man with food, a lazy drug addict with immobilization for a year, a proud actress with ugliness, a prostitute with rape.
Dow imagined himself as a tool in the hands of the Creator, doing justice. And for many, his actions may even seem logical, justified. But is it? Can the biblical text justify inhuman crimes, murders with special cruelty?
The main essence of Christianity as a religion is love, the boundless connection between God and man. Trying to justify his actions, John Doe violates the basic canons of the Bible.
Wishing to eradicate the seven vices, he himself becomes the embodiment of them all. He is possessed by pride, greed, envy, anger – everything from which he wants to rid the world. The idea is that the worldview of a maniac has nothing to do with the essence of Christianity, no matter how loud his statements sound.
Kevin Spacey played the role of John Doe. Frame from the film.
The meaning of the name
There is a lot of symbolism in the movie Seven. This number is connected not only with the number of mortal sins. This analogy is obvious, but there are other points as well.
Somerset is seven days away from retirement. This is the period during which he realizes that he cannot leave his job, no matter how hateful it becomes to him. This is the time during which the main character accepts himself and his destiny and no longer tries to escape from fate.
At seven in the evening, Somerset is invited to dinner with David and Tracey Mills. From this moment, the audience learns more about the characters, and an invisible emotional connection arises between them.
Seven o’clock on the clock at the moment when the fatal package is delivered to Mills in the finale. John Walker chose this time, thought it all out in advance. The number “seven” becomes iconic in the film, has a hidden meaning.
Frame from the film.
Director’s options for the ending and the meaning of the final
The script was initially scrutinized and rejected by the producers due to the dark ending. But David Fincher insisted that the ending be just that. He said: “The audience may, years later, not name the actors, individual episodes of the film, but the final scene with the head in the box will never be forgotten.” Meanwhile, there were alternate endings.
The final shot was supposed to be Mills’ shot at Doe. Then a black screen and credits. But then the director decided to finish the finale and added a scene when Mills is taken away, and Somerset says in the words of Hemingway: “The world is a beautiful place, worthy to fight for it … I agree with the second part.”
There were also options where the detectives save Tracy’s life at the end. In one of them, Mills and Doe burn down in a church, while Tracy survives, gives birth to a child and raises him.
When it became clear that the death of the heroine Gwyneth Paltrow was inevitable, various scenes of the death of the maniac John Doe began to be developed. David Fincher conceded options where Doe would be shot by Somerset, or where Doe would kill Mills and then Somerset would shoot him.
There was even a variant ending where Somerset ends up in the hospital after Mills is shot. But there was no explanation for what reason Mills shot his partner, and it is also not clear what became of Doe. In this case, the meaning of the ending of the film “Seven” would be completely distorted. Indeed, according to the idea of the criminal, it was he who was the sixth victim of sin, a man obsessed with envy of “ordinary people”. Mills thus became the bearer of the seventh vice – anger.
Movies similar to Seven
“Silence of the Lambs”, 1990
An unknown psychopath kills women by skinning them. The FBI, having found no leads, sends young detective Clarissa Starling to the maniac Hannibal Lecter for help. The girl asks him to draw up a psychological portrait of the killer. Gradually, an emotional connection develops between her and Lector, together they go on the trail of the killer and solve a complicated case.
In San Francisco, brutal murders take place one after another. It becomes clear that this is the work of a serial maniac-imitator. He repeats the atrocities of the famous killers, and no one knows who will be the next victim. Writer Helen Hudson is an expert on the psychology of serial killers, helping investigators get on the trail of a criminal.
“The Power of Fear”, 1999
Lincoln Rhyme was a successful criminalist, but now he is a paralyzed pensioner. But when a maniac begins to operate in the city, the police turn to Rhyme for advice and help. Together with the bodyguard Amelia, they uncover the criminal and bring him to justice.
Shot from the film “The Power of Fear”.
“Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, 2009
Police officer Aiden Breslin, in order to distract himself from the death of his wife, takes on a difficult case. A certain maniac commits perverted murders in the style of the prophecy from the Bible about the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Later it turns out that these crimes are connected with Aiden himself. And he has less and less time to find the killer.