216 of 286 people found the following review helpful
This Masterpiece is More Than Just a "Thriller",
This review is from: Seven (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
There is a hidden message in Se7en. Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker sarcastically labeled Se7en as his "loveletter to New York City."
Sadly mistaken for simply "just-another-horror-flick," Se7en has been done a grave dishonor by the majority of the viewing public who neither have the empathy nor the intuition to understand the deep message it carries. Comparing this poetic and cautionary masterpiece to "The Silence of the Lambs" is a terrible misconception. The Silence of the Lambs was an excellent film about the innerworkings of investigative profiling and the psychopathic personality (although only partly represented and definitely not generalizable to the psychopathic population of today) through Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Se7en on the surface may seem similar - a film consisting of a plot about two cops "hunting" down a "mad" (another misconception) psychopathic serial killer.
However, under the skin, these two films are entirely different in contextual substance.
In The Silence of the Lambs, the plot is as deep as it goes. The relationships and interactions between the characters are the core of the story. Sentiments are decided based on the events that occur in result of another's actions. That is as deep as it goes.
Rather than being "plot-based" entertainment, the themes in Se7en are theological, philosophical, moral, and cultural. The entire film is based around the dialogue between Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Mills (very well-portrayed by Brad Pitt), and the philosophy and motivation behind John Doe (Kevin Spacey in his best performance). Within the film is the continuing philosophical dialogue between Mills and Somerset, two contrasting characters that happen to be working on the same side. Mills' nature is impulsive, passionate, yet plagued with inexperience and naivete, while Somerset is weathered, subdued, with polished character, lore, logic and practicality, with a touch of lost hope. Neither men are able to get much anywhere with the investigation (at least without a little bribery - another testament to why this movie is NOT about investigative profiling or techniques), as Somerset replied to Mills when Mills asked him what 'they were really doing if they weren't investigating,' "just picking up the pieces."
It is the weakness of Mills that leads him to be devoured by the wrath of John Doe in the end, a man, neither psychotic or equivalent to the Devil (yet seemingly so), but calculate, methodical, and patient. On the same token, it is Somerset's experience and venerability that keeps him from being targeted by Doe.
"If we caught John Doe and he were the devil, if he were actually satan, that might live up to our expectations. But, this is not the devil. It's just a man," admonishes Somerset.
One of the most haunting ironies I find in Walker's script well portrayed by Fincher's cast is the uncanny similarities between John Doe, the antagonist and Somerset, the protagonist. If you watch that one scene in the car, you will realize that Somerset agrees with Doe, yet although realizing that their consensus does not justify Doe's irrational, yet seemingly rational killings. With Doe's philosophy explaining his intolerance for the prevalence and trivialization of the deadly sins, Somerset's continuous argument that we are becoming too apathetic of a society, only motivated by such things such as our temptations and self-indulgence, there is admittedly a strong parallex that exists between the two characters. Yet, they stand opposed to one another, because while Somerset, although discouraged, managed to keep his faith in mankind, Doe did not, and could not tolerate the injustice any longer.
With the current decline in the immaterial and spiritual life, and the ascending obsessional mindset of psychological egoism, existentialism, atheism, and hedonism, there is no message needed more than the one represented in this fine film by Fincher. We as a people must return back to faith, lest we become tyrants and slaves to our sins that will devour us in the end.
"You see a deadly sin on almost every street corner, and in every home, literally. And we tolerate it. Because it's common, it seems trivial, and we tolerate it, all day long, morning, noon and night. Not anymore. I'm setting the example, and it's going to be puzzled over and studied and followed, from now on." - John Doe, Se7en.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 8, 2006 6:11:44 PM PST
Pops Gustav says:
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2007 8:01:59 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 27, 2007 8:03:17 PM PST
Posted on May 30, 2007 9:35:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 30, 2007 9:43:38 PM PDT
Kevin M. Harris says:
I just want to say this is a wonderful review and you used very ornate verbage.
You sound like a Professor of the movie.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2007 6:05:27 PM PDT
Vanissa W. Chan says:
Thanks Kevin! I appreciate it. I wrote it a very long time ago and was surprised to see comments!
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 18, 2007 9:13:34 AM PDT
WW Bittrogue says:
I agree with Kevin! Very cool. But an overall great review! It was a pleasure to read--and quite eye-opening.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2008 6:14:45 AM PST
Greenman Wood says:
It is a wonderful review, but I do have a question: Return to faith? Faith in what? Are you suggesting that the ills of society are to be cured by a return to the fear-based motivation promoted by most organized religion? It is only when we come to the realization that to do good is in and of itself sufficient motivation for our behavior that we will be able to call ourselves civilized. Fear of consequence or reward from an imaginary god is in large measure responsible for the horrid behavior present in the world. A universal morality, free of absurd, human-invented creeds and mythologies, is the only hope we have. The rightness of good is eternal; today's religions (if we can survive them) are just time away from being relegated to the dustbin of history, a review of which shows us is the fate of all "faiths" that are based on falsehood.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2008 12:23:21 PM PDT
Noah Wilkinson says:
Well Greenman you make a valid point, I dont agree that we should, "Return to faith," as in becoming religious. John Doe just saw the world as a moraless sesspool of sin and vice and decided to act upon it in the way he felt necessary. I've seen this movie numurous times and I've never thought that it was at all "preachy" or made me think that as a society we should all collectively, "return to faith." To me it just said that the world is an ugly place and is full of greedy, lazy, gluttonous, whorish, and just plain disgusting people, and that there isnt much moral left anymore. But I dont believe you need religion to be a moral person
But anyways, that was a very good review of an amazing movie.
I really liked how you expounded on the character development and the compare/contrast between Somerset and Mills.
Posted on Mar 7, 2011 11:56:34 AM PST
W_givRacing HB says:
More thought in this revew than in the actual movie ! Great review, great read. Return to Faith may even mean a return to Christ. The heart of Christianity is Forgiveness and Love one another. God knew we find 101 ways to screw up he made is as simple as Love one another. But dope like the one reviewer here get all tangled up in himself and goes off the subject and ranting about org. religion. Everyone know organized religion is a crock. GEEZe ... Now I am off point but when I visit St. Pats in NYC I light 10 and 20 free candles for healing the hearts of the victims of the Catholic Church. Greedy Pedo's want $5.00 for one candle. Anyway Ms. Chan review is a Master Piece!
Posted on Mar 7, 2011 11:58:02 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 7, 2011 11:58:18 AM PST]
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2011 12:50:04 AM PDT
My 2 cents: "Faith" perhaps not in the sense of organized religion, but as a CONCEPT, a belief (fact-based or not) that, as Somerset says at the very end [I paraphrase], "the world is worth fighting for."
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