Arnold Kopelson’s ‘Seven’ starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey portrays a week in the life of Inspector Mills (Brad Pitt) and Inspector Somerset (Morgan Freeman) as they bid to solve the case of serial killer John Doe (Kevin Spacey). I think that this film portrays a very un-stereotypical serial killer, John Doe, although the film itself e. g. setting, music and theme are all very much in keeping with the stereotypical serial killer film. I believe that John Doe is un-stereotypical as he is very methodical and calculated in his approach to the murders he commits.
Unlike many serial killers he has planned very carefully who his victims are going to be and the method with which he is going to kill them. He planned to only kill seven people this is unusual as the majority of killers, keep on killing until they are caught, this shows that John Doe is in control of his need to kill. He is not the sort of serial killer who is killing for thrills or fun, he is trying to set an example to the world. I think that John Doe believes in an idealistic world where the seven deadly sins (gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, wrath, pride, lust) are not committed and are punished.
He says that he is working for God, this is strange as most serial killers believe they have some link to the devil or other evil beings, this makes you believe that he can not be so evil if he believes in God. In my opinion the setting for this film is very stereotypical and in keeping with most peoples view of a film of this genre. The film is set in two places the first and main setting is a heavily suburban city, it is always raining and dark in this city, this makes the mood very depressing. You are never told the name of the city this gives the impression that it could be set in any big city in the USA.
This shows that the exact setting is not important in getting the message across; it makes you think that it could happen anywhere and to anyone. The second setting is in the desolate outskirts of the city, the land seems dead and no one lives there, and no plants or trees grow, only the electricity pylons towering high above break up the dull landscape. The fact that it rains constantly again makes the mood depressing; Arnold Kopelson has used the weather very effectively in depicting the mood and atmosphere in this movie.
In the scene where John Doe and Inspectors Mills and Somerset are in the outskirts the weather changes from the usual rain to sunshine, this gives a false sense of security to the audience leading them to think that all is well and that there are no further twists to the tale. The music used in this film composed by Howard Shore is also very stereotypical of music used in other serial killer films; the music plays a big part in adding tension and suspense to the key scenes. When the action is fast the music speeds up, this makes these parts much more exciting and gripping to the audience.
The music is used very effectively in the very tense scenes as it adds atmosphere and in some parts makes you think that something is going to happen suddenly. The use of music is evident as early on in the film as the opening credits, where the music sounds like scraping or scratching. It is very spooky and makes you think that the film is going to start very suddenly and get to the action quickly, which it does to great effect. In this film the murders are very unusual. The stereotypical serial killer would kill his victims in whichever way he can, usually the same way each time.
John Doe kills in a fashion that is very patient and clever. By killing each victim by the deadly sin they have committed he proves his point that the seven deadly sins are wrong to commit and should be punished. For example the fat boy ‘Victor’ is murdered by forcing him to eat until his stomach bursts. John Doe believes that by making ‘Victor’ eat until he dies he is punishing him for a life of gluttony. Unlike stereotypical serial killers John Doe wants to get caught so that his ‘masterpiece can be completed.
He makes himself the final victim in the sequence when Inspector Mills kills him by the deadly sin ‘Wrath’. This shows how much he believes in what he is doing, proving a point and making himself a martyr by doing so. It is unclear whether John Doe initially intended himself to be the last victim. But the fact that he was makes a powerful impact and conclusion to the film. The director Arnold Kopelson has used many different methods to depict the murders on screen. He uses lighting, sound effects and visual effects to make the crime scenes striking to the viewer.
For example when Inspectors Mills and Somerset find the victim of ‘Sloth’, torchlight is used as the only source of light in the room this makes the scene more shocking when all of the torches transfix on the body. Also at this point in the film before they find the body of ‘Sloth’ the music used creates a feeling of anxiety as the action speeds up. The scene comes to a thrilling climax with the finding of the body, and then just when you are least expecting it, the victim suddenly moves. This visual effect has the audience jumping out of their seats.
I think that by making the serial killer in this film very un-stereotypical Arnold Kopelson creates a film unlike any other that has gone before; it is very refreshing to see a different take on the serial killer film genre. Arnold Kopelson has succeeded in creating a film that makes you think about the world we live in, he has got across his point that our world is in many ways a very morally unjust place in which to live, I tend to agree with this view. In conclusion ‘Seven’ is in my opinion a very exciting, thrilling, shocking and original film, which keeps you entertained from beginning to end.
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