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Seven (Bfi Modern Classics) Paperback – January 22, 2008
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Richard Dyer analyzes the movie in this monograph published as part of the British Film Institute's Modern Classics series. The movie incorporates the number seven into the details and this book maintains that pattern by presenting the analysis in seven chapters. It begins and ends on strong ground, providing the reader some excellent interpretations of key scenes that will allow a viewer to better appreciate the subtleties of the characters' interactions.
Dyer takes the position that the concept of sin infuses the movie and that this sin is inescapable. The movie is very unAmerican in tone, without even the promise of a happy ending. Interestingly, the producers did want to use a happier ending but this was thankfully vetoed, as Dyer points out, by Brad Pitt, who insisted on the original, darker ending.
The pervasiveness of sin is demonstrated by the two characters representing goodness. Tracy, the wife, is the embodiment of good in the film and we all know what happens to her. Somerset, the older detective, also represents goodness, and although he gets out in one piece, he is unable to stop evil from taking its course. Instead, he can only watch on.
Dyer missteps a couple times in this analysis. One instance of the number seven cropping up relates to the detail that Somerset is seven days from retirement. This is a tired cliche in movies.Read more ›
Dyer calls 'Se7en' 'a landscape of despair, a symphony of sin', a film 'extraordinarily un-American in its pessimism'. Appropriately dividing his study into 7 sibilantly-titled chapters, he examines it from an exhaustive number of angles. 'Se7en' is an archetypal serial killer movie that focuses on white male alienation in contemporary urban society, but is also a denial of the genre, refusing to demonise the murderer, suggesting he is simply an over-enthusiastic law-enforcer with the same attitude to the corruption of modern urban life as the policemen. Dyer shows how, through dialogue, script-structure and editing, the killer is connected to both detectives pursuing him. He shows how Andrew Kevin Walker's brilliantly constructed script both imposes order on unmanagable violence and despair, and denies it (I can't say how just in case you haven't seen the film). He examines the notion of 'sin' in a post-modern, post-religious world, with the minimal possibilities of salvation - religion, culture, human goodness - offered. He is particularly good on his own areas of expertise - star personae, race and sexuality.Read more ›