Analysing thriller films/trailers: ‘Se7en’….

Posted: September 22, 2010 in Media

‘Se7en’ one of my favourite films (probably my favourite thriller then aswell) was pretty much one of the biggest influences for my AS work. And since I am doing a revenge/thriller I thought it may be useful to rekindle my memory on conventions usually found in thrillers and whether I’d want to include any  of these in my trailer or not…

And also, last year I didn’t analyse the trailers of thrillers just the openings, so taking a look at some of the trailers of thriller films I know quite well could be useful to expand my research on this genre (as recently I have been focusing on revenge films quite a lot…)

So here is the trailer I’m going to analyse…

Genre…

Well from the trailer it’s pretty easy to determine that this film will be a thriller. And if you want to be really specific about the genre, probably a ‘crime’ thriller. Why?? The usual conventions of a thriller are all there- policemen as protagonists, a murderer as a villain, gory, complicated murders, lots of mysteries to solve etc etc And I think one of the main reasons the genre of thriller is obvious to the audience is that the trailer keeps everything very ‘under wraps’- everything about the film is  left a mystery and most of these are the questions audiences really really want the answers to, like- will Somerset and Mills catch the murderer? Who is the murderer? Who will he kill?? etc and I think it is this element of secrecy or mystery that really conveys the thriller genre tot he audience, giving them the idea that what really is at hand is not the truth or is being kept from them (usually leading to the usual shocking endings thrillers like ‘Se7en’ have.

Narrative…

Well I think we get the basic idea from the trailer of what the film’s plot is without being revealed too much…Basically we see that the protagonists consist of two very different policeman- Detective William Somerset and Detective David Mills. While Somerset is very experienced and desperately wants to retire, Mills seems like he is young, new and is trying to get settled into his new job (We can’t call him ‘inexperienced’ because we hear he has ‘worked homocide 5 years’ but yet somehow he doesn’t seem AS experienced as Somerset). So, the detectives have differences in opinions and methods but they will be working closely together and must try to get along. Although this part is not fully explained because we do not hear whether they do indeed end up agreeing or putting differences a side…but they are soon faced with a bigger problem (the main disruption of the equilibrium), which consists of a serial killer on their hands. A serial killer who is like nothing they’ve encountered before, whose murders we hear has some link to religion, especially the seven deadly sins. And we are left thinking that this killer is controlling, patient and very clever, so will the detectives be able to catch him? Or will their differences get in the way of them stopping this villain and restoring the equilibrium??

USP…

I think the trailer portrays a lot of USPs to the audience to try and help ‘sell’ the film. Most of these are the actors who star in the film itself, which are introduced by the voice over if not already recognized by the audience: firstly Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman, who is well known for his roles within films such as ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘Driving Miss Daisy’. For his iconic and memorable roles in successful films such as these, this is a good technique of getting people to watch the film, because if they enjoyed the actor’s previous films/roles they may feel inclined to watch this film when they hear he is taking the leading role. And then of course there is the mention of Brad Pitt, who probably was just reaching the height of his popularity when ‘Seven’ was released (and therefore when the trailer was realised) as he had already played roles in ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and ‘A River Runs Through it’. And being one of the biggest names in the film industry, I think mentioning Brad Pitt is a big enough USP to get enough people interested enough to go and see the film after hearing in the trailer that he will be one of the protagonists in the film. And then there’s Gwyneth Paltrow, who’s acting career was really started off by this film, had already had roles in films such as ‘Hook’ and ‘Flesh and Bone’ but I think that if an audience of today  were to watch the trailer they would be more intrigued by Gwyneth Paltrow’s appearance as she is quite a well known actress today (for roles in films like ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Shakespeare in Love’).

Target Audience…

Well I think this is quite hard to define, but I’ll start off with gender. To be honest I think that men may be a bigger target audience than women for one very big reason: the main characters of the film (Somerset and Mills) are both male. Overall it is a very male dominated cast (with female characters having little parts/lines and providing most of John Doe’s victims) and I think for this reason, males may be more likely to watch and enjoy the film than female audiences. They have more characters to relate to and therefore will probably connect to the film better. Age wise I would have to say I agree with the rating provided on the DVD (or perhaps the BBFC) and say 18+. Although I may be contradicting myself because this is one of my favourite films and I am not yet 18, I think in general, 18+ may be the film’s best and biggest target audience. Why? Well I know for one that ‘Seven’ is complicated and rather slow paced and this therefore requires a maturer audience to appreciate the film without simply labelling as ‘boring’ because it is slow paced. Two very different things- but younger audiences may not understand this. Also, the film is suggested to be rather dark and horrific in the trailer by the reactions of the characters (so even though we don’t see anything we know it will have quite upsetting or horrible scenes) and I think some audiences younger than 18 could be frightened by the film’s dark nature and this could affect them later on in life. So this is a good reason to label the film as 18+.

Music…

At first the trailer opens up with quite low music so that it does not interfere with important dialogue. It then builds up and sounds quite scary and strange, adding tension and making the audience wonder just what is going on. As the trailer introduces the protagonists and the main theme to the film the music slowly gets louder and faster, leading the audience to expect the apparent equilibrium to be disrupted- but by what? The drum beats in this music are quite tension building and foreboding- connoting that something bad is about to happen. As the main disruption seems to occur: the killer starting his series of murders, the music gets a littel more high pitched and sounds scary, indicating the film itself could be quite horrifying as well as connoting the terrible ways in which the victims are murdered within the film. It also sounds very mysterious- connoting that the killer’s identity is, for most of the film and the entire trailer, a mystery and this makes the audience desperate to know who he is. The music then gets faster as Somerset explains how the series of murders is going to play out: they are following the seven deadly sins. At this the music gets faster and faster building tension as we wonder whether the protagonist’s will be able to catch the murderer. This fast and loud music only just slows and quiets down when the final pieces of dialogue in the trailer are said by Somerset and Mills. Which I think is most effective as it really conveys to the audience the fact that ‘Seven’ is not fast paced and action-packed, it is slow paced and excruciatingly tension building.

Camerawork…

I thought the camerawork was really effective in keeping the vital points of the film a mystery- making the audience more likely to want to know more and therefore go on to watch the film itself. I also thought that it helped convey the genre of thriller as thrillers are usually quite mysterious and confusing films…

 As I said the extreme close ups are plentiful- such as focusing on the eyes of Somerset as he reads something important, or focusing on the feet of the killer as he makes his escape…this helps the identity of certain characters not to be given away so that the audience becomes intrigued as to who it is and instantly wants to watch on. Sometimes these camera shots focus on certain objects to heighten their importance- like the evidence jar from the ‘gluttony’ murder…

Over the shoulder shots were also used for the same technique- often we watched part of a conversation from the film but did not get to see who they were actually talking to (who’s shoulder it was filmed over), and this interests the audience as they want to know who the character is talking to and what the conversation really is about and most importantly, how this will affect the chain of events we are about to see play out in the film…

I also noticed a lot of two shots of Mills and Somerset together, which I thought was a very useful way of conveying to the audience that these character’s and their relationship is a very important factor within the film. From the trailer we get the idea that Mills and Somerset will be stuck together for every waking hour until Somerset plans to retire…so therefore it is only fitting to stick them together in every other shot to emphasize this.

Also, like many trailers and films, there are various midshots to introduce the main characters to the audience- which is most likely to be used to help the audience make a quick connection with them in the trailer in the hopes of them wanting to see what happens to this character in the film…

A few ‘whip pans’ were also used to emphasize the fear and urgency that the protagonist’s feel as they try to find the identity of the killer and stop him killing again. I think this technique helpfully gives the audience this impression as well as making them tense aswell.

We then had a few close up/reaction shots which I think were very useful as they showed various reactions from the main characters as they saw/witnessed certain things and this way the audience cannot see what they are looking at, only their reaction to what they have seen, making them intrigued to know what the character is looking at…

Pace…

The trailer begins with a slow pace as we hear Mills talk to an unidentified character. I don’t think this indicates the equilibrium as we see the shock on the protagonist’s faces as they search a house, but rather introduces the audience to the films chilling slow pace. It is then speeded up a little by flashes of various things like the legs of the gluttony victim and an evidence jar to suggest that something bad is about to happen. The pace is then slowed down agin to introduce a possible equilibrium- we are introduced to main characters Mills and Somerset and learn some vital things about their character and how this may effect the film. As the disruption of the equilibrium occurs (the murderer and his series of 7) the pace quickens a little to make the audience tense and focus their attention on the screen- what is going to happen? As Somerset reveals the murderer’s motives we then are pushed into a faster pace which then makes the audience even more tense as they begin to wonder how this links into the murders and whether the protagonists will be able to catch him. As even more disruptions appear to occur and we hear the characters getting frustrated, the pace quickens even further making us wonder just what is going on and how it all links in together. It only gets really fast when the sins start flashing up onto the screen and the climax of the trailer appears- where all the most vital questions are raised but left unanswered- succeeding in making the audience tense and intrigued. This pace then slows as Mills says ‘lets finish it’ which indicates the attempt to restore the equilibrium of the film and therefore the pace slows down a little as the trailer is not going to show the audience this part of the film…it then slows down again as the final pieces of dialogue are said, making the audience feel tense and like they are back in the middle of it all, where they started in the first place and they want to know what happens in the film.

Dialogue…

The dialogue in the trailer was helpful for quite a few different reasons: It gave us a hint of the film, creating atmosphere, mood and portraying vital information on characters/story, but was clever in the choices as I feel it did not give too much away…

‘Like what you do for a living?…These things you see?’– I think this was probably a perfect opening statement for the trailer. It really opens up and introduces the films incredibly dark and tense atmosphere. Said by Mills, this makes us wonder who he is speaking to (as we do not see or hear a reply)and what job he is talking about. It foretells the horrendous things that are happening in the film and therefore makes the audience instantly expect the film to be dark and chilling. The fact these are questions also makes it direct to the audience, capturing their attention and making them focus ont he trailer as soon as it begins. I’d also like to point out that this from about half way through the film, (straight after the ‘lust’ victim has been found and this is John Doe’s 4th murder is his series of 7. So quite far through the film then) and I think this is useful as it immediately plunges the audience into the plot, which is useful for getting their strictest attention and interest.

‘You’re retiring’ – said to Somerset from another detective. This gives the audience information on the characters. And quite vital information too, as Somerset’s determination to retire from the force is a big plot point and provides a lot of tension and arguments/disagreements between a few characters throughout the film. Of course it shows the protagonists constant battle with himself- he wants to give up, he doesn’t want to see horrible things anymore, but will this case persuade him otherwise?? 

‘So how long have you lived here?’ -Said by Tracy, this introduces her to the audience. She is clearly shown as Mills’ wife, and seems happy and friendly as she asks Somerset this question. This also implies the fact that the Mills’, David and Tracy have only just moved in and are trying to make friends in this new neighbourhood.   ‘Too long’- is  Somerset’s reply. This indicates back to the previous statement that he is retiring, and we get the feeling that he does not like where he lives and this indicates perhaps an omen to what may happen in the rest of the film (a disruption in the equilibrium).

‘We’ll be spending every waking hour together from now till the time I leave.’ …..’I tell you who your friends and enemies are.’- This is said by Somerset to Mills, and it sounds as though he is being friendly, and trying to give him some helpful advice. And it also gives the audience the information that these characters are going to be in each others company a lot throughout the film- so will they get along? Will they have differences between them? And what could the consequences of these disagreements be?

‘I’ve worked Homicide 5 years.’ –Mills replies to Somerset. He says this in a way that implies he is not stupid and his previous experience means he does not need Somerset’s advice nor his help. And the audience therefore can felt that maybe these two characters will not get along, although they have to work together, so will they work things out?

‘We have ourselves a Homicide.’– Said by Mills this implies the disruption of the equilibrium, that the two detectives have a murder to solve (which then turns out to be a series of murders) and this interests the audience as, having seen Mill’s and Somerset’s relationship it can be implied that the two may have differences on this subject and we want to see whether they can work it out between them or will they let their differences get in the way of catching the culprit? A murder is always good to get the audience interested on it’s own anyway…we want to know who died, why and most importantly, who killed them…  

‘No fingerprints. No witnesses of any kind.’ – This is said by Somerset, who is going over the notes on the murder case. This brings the audience more information for them to get hooked on- it seems the murderer, whomever it is, is very clever and different to the run of the mill killer you see in films and TV everyday, so will he be caught? And what are his motives? It brings a problem for our protagonists to try and overcome and we want to see whether they will work it out or not…

‘About the only thing we know about that guy right now is that he’s totally insane.’ – A character (I’m pretty sure the other detective who spoke to Somerset about retiring at the start of the trailer) talking about the murderer the protagonists now have a duty to catch. And, another way to get the audience interested too, as the protagonists seem to be confronted by another big problem: their killer is one of a kind, and is totally unidentified. The only thing we or the audience know about him is that he is totally insane, and this interests us as we want to know more about him and whether this is indeed true, or how they even came to this conclusion.

‘There are seven deadly sins…gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, lust and envy…seven. You can expect 5 more of these.’ -This vital piece of information is said by Somerset, which really conveys one of the main themes of the film to the audience. We realise that the killer’s motives are now rather religious- as Somerset says they are based around the 7 deadly sins. So why is this killer so fixated and obsessed with this particular subject? How is he killing these people and why? How does this all link in? And the way Somerset says that the police can simply expect 5 more murders implies that he feels this is way out of their control. The killer has the upper hand. And this interests us as we want to see whether this is indeed true, or will the police manage to stop him on his killing spree? 

‘I hate this city.’ – As the trailer gets to it’s climax, building substantial tension in the mean time, everything seems to be going wrong. We hear Tracy, in an almost crying voice, confess this, and this implies that terrible things are happening within the film and we want to know what has caused her outburst of sadness.

‘We’ve got to get who did this.’ – This also builds a lot of tension. Said by Mills, this implies not only that he is desperate to get the killer but also that he has now accepted Somerset being on his side to help him on the case, so that leads us to ask: do they finally put their differences between them a side to catch the killer? This also implies the idea that the murders are brutal and causing immense fear in the public, so this puts pressure on the protagonists to catch the killer and in turn, tension on the audience as wonder whether they’ll crack under this pressure…

‘Very definition of swift justice.’ – Said by an important looking man on TV (I think a spokesperson of some kind) this reinforces what I just said. The disruptions and struggles in the equilibrium are now plentiful (with the differences between Somerset and Mills, the killers brutal murders, Somerset’s upcoming retirement, Mills just getting settled into his new job and home and the pressure from the media to catch the killer all mounting up for piles and piles of tension), and the audience begin to get very tense in the fear and wonder of how it will all end… 

‘There are two more bodies, two more victims…’ –Said by what I think is a lawyer (though in the trailer it does not reveal his role as it isn’t really important), this gets the audience interested and intrigued- what bodies? What significance will they have in the film? And, if I’m going to relate this to the film also, I think this is very clever as it is short and snappy: putting the interest in the audience without actually giving too much away about the film itself (in other words not telling them in the trailer that at this point in the film, Mills and Somerset must accompany the killer, who has turned himself in, to find these two ‘bodies’).  

‘This guy’s methodical, exacting, and worst of all, patient.’ – Said by Somerset this makes the audience even more tense. This implies that the murderer has given the protagonist’s reason to think this and the audience want to know why this is- like did he kill someone in a certain way, in such an organised way that implies this about own his personality? This is bad news for our protagonists anyway and indicates they may have a big problem on their hands on trying to catch this killer….

‘He’s laughing at us.’ – Said by Mills, this give the audience more evidence to go on about the killer and this intrigues them and makes want to know more…how is the killer laughing at them like Mills says? Is he playing mind games with them? Well whatever it specifically means we still know one thing for sure- the killer has control. And the audience, upon hearing this, will want to know how the protagonist’s react to this and how they’ll overcome this problem and regain control…  

‘He had a gun….’– Said off screen (by a character I believe to be the man who was held at gun point to help Doe kill the ‘lust’ victim) This makes the audience tense and ask questions- who had a gun? What did they do with it? And how does this link into the plot?? I think this is helpful as this is very cut off from what is originally said in the film…and therefore  doesn’t give too much away but successfully creates a dark and tense atmosphere….

‘He’s two murders away from completing his masterpiece…’- Said by Somerset, this builds tension and makes us wonder whether the killer will complete his series of murders. Or will the protagonists stop him? Well it appears that Somerset has some idea about the killer’s motives and this can imply that he may be onto him… 

‘Lets finish it.’ – Said by Mills, this implies that he wants to restore the equilibrium to the film (indicating perhaps that he is a ‘hero’) and this makes the audience ponder over whether he will indeed, catch the killer and stop him completing his series of murders.

And then, the last piece of dialogue from the trailer, which I think is one of the most effective : ‘Have you ever see anything like this?’ -Said by Mills to Somerset, in a shocked whisper, this really gets the audience’s attention. Because we cannot see what Mills is talking about we wonder what horrible and unreal thing they have come across and this of course makes us want to see the film. It also sets up the atmosphere for the film- it is scary because the protagonist’s themselves are frightened of the killer due to the horrific and surreal things he has done. 

‘No.’ – Is the reply from Somerset, which is said very faintly. His and Mill’s tone of voice in this little piece of conversation is superb to leave the audience on at the end of the trailer. It leaves us feeling like whatever the killer does it is something surreal and never seen before, so we therefore want to see it or at least know what he did. And we cleverly don’t see what Mill’s and Somerset are talking about, which I think is useful as we just see their reactions- conveying more emotion to the audience as well as leaving, this part of the film anyway, a mystery.

Voice Over…

OK, I think it’s obvious that I don’t like voiceovers. And the one featured in this trailer is quite annoying and clichéd, especially with the typical American voice. I think that it may help give information to the audience about the characters and the plot also, but I think it takes a bit away from the trailer’s tension and atmosphere…

‘Detective William Somerset is looking for a way out…’– This helps the audience to understand a bit more about the protagonist of the film, emphasizing the fact he is desperate to retire from the force. Which is quite an important and ongoing problem of the film. And also poses the problem of will he retire? Or will he change his mind? But to be honest, I think audiences could figure this out for themselves with the various pieces of dialogue expressing this fact. So maybe the voice over is necessarily needed… 

‘Detective David Mills is looking for a way in…’- And this tells us about the other protagonist of the film, Mills, who is trying to settle into this new job. I think this helps reinforce the fact that Mills the ‘new guy’ in the film but, like the last piece of voice over, audiences may have been able to work this out for themselves without been physically told it. The fact that Mills appears to be in the opposite situation to Somerset, then this can imply that they will have difference between them.

‘Now, they’re caught in a game…’– Now this reinforces the first and biggest problem of the film: the detectives are then thrown into a case which is different to anything they have ever had to deal with. The fact it is refered to a ‘game’ can imply that the killer of the film is in total control of everything that happens and therefore, he choses who wins or loses…(whether the equilibrium will actually be reinstated or not).

‘Where the price of sin, is death…’– This introduces one of the main themes of the film, which is in no doubt, religion. And it introduces the audience to the killer’s motives and suggests the reasons he may be killing others has something to do with sin (which Somerset explains in the trailer, so I don’t think this piece of voice over is really vital for information either…) 

‘Brad Pitt…’- Said while we are given a midshot of Mills (Pitt), this successfully introduces a USP to the audience. And although I think most audiences would recognize Brad Pitt when they saw him I suppose it is quite useful for persuading the audience to want to watch the film. although I do think titles might have been more effective…

‘Morgan Freeman…’– Another mid shot of the character as the actor’s name is revealed by the voice over. Like I said with Pitt, I think that most audiences could recognize Morgan Freeman without any need of formal introduction by an annoying voice over…

‘Gywneth Paltrow…’- Given what I think is  a close up of Tracy, the voice over introduces yet another USP to the audience. And I’m not so sure everyone COULD recognize Gwyneth Paltrow when they saw her as instantly as they could Freeman or Pitt so maybe it was appropriate due to the fact I don’t think she has as big a fan base as the two leading actors of the film…but again, titles would have been better for atmosphere and mood…

‘Seven.’– The voice over then introduces the title of the film. As effective as some may think this is, I think the audience can at least read. They don’t need to be told the name of the film when it is right there on the screen for them to read…

Special Effects…

Personally I don’t think this trailer relies a lot on special effects to appeal to the audience. It’s like, although in the film it is probably used a bit, the film itself doesn’t rely on these special effects and therefore there is no need to convey them to the audience in the trailer. For example, the only thing I can really se being classed as special effects in this trailer is perhaps some of the glimpses at the victims that we get or the shoot outs between various characters. Other than that I don’t think there is any. And that is because the trailer itself relies more on reaction shots for fear than actual violence or gore….it’s how the character’s react to what they see that makes the trailer have a dark and bleak mood. It insinuates that the film will be exactly what it is: terrifyingly tense and sometimes, rather disturbing to watch.

But I think the main reason not many special effects are portrayed in the trailer is that the fact that ‘Seven’ is not your typical glamorous Hollywood Blockbuster or action movie. It’s a harrowing, slow and tense film, and I think that the fact the trailer shows little special effects shows that this film is not phased with looking big budget or glamorous, but is more concerned with the plot, mood and characters of the film, which I personally regard as a positive thing to portray in the trailer.

Credits & Intertitles…

I liked the credits & intertitles in this trailer although I am disappointed there is not more of them (the voice over seems to annoyingly take their place)..

Anyway, while approaching the climax of the trailer- where everything seems to be going wrong, lots of red words kind of ‘flash’ onto the screen, changing at a fast pace. These words are all the seven deadly sins- gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy and wrath. And this links to the religious themes of the film and the motives of the killer without, I think, not giving away too much but adding to the atmosphere and mood of the trailer as well as building a lot of tension.

And then we are given the film’s title: ‘Seven’, and I like the fact it displays both the film and the number. The seven red lines scratching into the dark black background of the shot- as well as cutting into the background like a knife (connoting the murders in the film) and red connotes murder, bloodshed and danger. Which suits the film itself perfectly.And then the white word contrasts this as perhaps innocence, but the way the red takes up most of the screen could connote the fact that the killer, in the film, feels the victims are not truly ‘innocent’ (too which sometimes, we cannot disagree with) 

And then, what I think has an added effect, we have probably the most notable tagline of the film:‘Let he who is without sin try to survive.’ And I think this is useful as, at the very end of the trailer, this stays lodged in the audience’s mind, and leaves them thinking about sin and religion, which is pretty much the most important theme of the film. And because it makes them think, they will most likely want to know more about this and go on to watch the film itself because of it.

And comparing it to the film….

What I like about the trailer is the fact it gets the mood and atmosphere of the film just right: so the audience know just what to expect from the film itself and therefore judge whether it’d be the kind of film they’d enjoy watching.

And it hints to everything but actually tells the audience nothing. For instance, it hints that Mills and Somerset will not get along, which they don’t (well to start off with) and this gets in the way a lot during the film as they have so many different opinions on the things that matter, such as these quotes I have collected from IMDB:

Mills (To Somerset): ‘I don’t think you’re quitting because you believe these things you say. I don’t. I think you want to believe them, because you’re quitting. And you want me to agree with you, and you want me to say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re right. It’s all f*cked up. It’s a f*cking mess. We should all go live in a f*cking log cabin.” But I won’t. I don’t agree with you. I do not. I can’t. ‘

Somerset (to Mills): ‘You cannot afford to be this naive’

And it is this constant conflict that is mentioned in the trailer between young/old, experienced/inexperienced, patient/impatient that eventually leads to the protagonists somewhat loosing and the villain winning/getting what he wanted all along…

And this is why the trailer is so clever- it certainly hints that the villain, John Doe, is clever and controlled but we would never imagine from watching that trailer how much control he really has…I think the trailer insinuates a struggle yes, but it does not tells us that really, the film does not play out the way we’d initially expect it to. So the ending would shock the audience as, if they’d seen the trailer, they probably wouldn’t have seen the ending coming from a mile away…

John Doe: ‘DETECTIVE!!!’….’You’re looking for me…’

One of the best things about this trailer is the fact that it does not reveal John Does’ identity at all- it doesn’t say his name or show his face or anything. And this therefore makes the film all the more tense and frightening (as if we’d seen him in the trailer the audience would just be constantly looking for him or suspecting him) and it also makes the audience wait for that brilliant first scene in which he reveals himself and hands himself into the police all the more shocking and iconic (and the fact this is placed at pretty much the end of the film I think this makes the audience tense and more likely to watch the film all the way through to discover the killer’s identity).

But despite all these hints and stuff in the trailer, we can really have no idea of how it’ll play out. Having turned himself in (not mentioned in trailer either), John Doe takes Mills and Somerset to a place where there are apparently ‘two more victims’ (which is what we heard being said by the character in the trailer but with no specific information as to what he was really talking about so to confuse the audience) who are dead and waiting to be found. On the way there we hear John Doe argue that he is doing ‘God’s work’ and we can’t help but agree with some of the things he says while he explains why he did in fact kill those people:

John Doe: ‘Innocent? Is that supposed to be funny? An obese man… a disgusting man who could barely stand up; a man who if you saw him on the street, you’d point him out to your friends so that they could join you in mocking him; a man, who if you saw him while you were eating, you wouldn’t be able to finish your meal. After him, I picked the lawyer and I know you both must have been secretly thanking me for that one. This is a man who dedicated his life to making money by lying with every breath that he could muster to keeping murderers and r*pists on the streets!A woman so ugly on the inside she couldn’t bear to go on living if she couldn’t be beautiful on the outside. A drug dealer, a drug dealing p*derast, actually! And let’s not forget the d*sease-spreading wh*re! Only in a world this sh*tty could you even try to say these were innocent people and keep a straight face. But that’s the point. We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it’s common, it’s trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not anymore. I’m setting the example. What I’ve done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed… forever’

And judging from the trailer, I don’t think audiences would see this coming. Because personally I feel that Doe, although he is a murderer and a terrible one at that, is right. Those victims did all, in their way, deserve to be punished and I don’t think that the trailer really prepares the audience for this understanding they will probably have with the villain of the film. Which is a good thing as it leaves the audience to ponder over what Doe says and work it out for themselves whether they agree or disagree with his actions and explanations to them. And it also makes the tension of what he is going to do to finish his series of seven all the more intense as the viewers confuse themselves with which characters are ‘good’ and which are ‘bad’ (In the trailer it is simple- murderer= bad. Mills, Somerset=good, but Does’ speech leaves the audience to wonder whether this indeed set in stone).

And then there’s the big thing we never see- the box containing Tracy’s head. Did not see that coming.(Which is why I think it is so useful that she’s barely mentioned in the trailer as she in fact plays an important part in the final scenes…well, her head does anyway). And here’s the big twist- Doe is guilty of a sin himself (envy) and feels he too should be punished. Punished by a distraught Mills of course. And it’s here that the tension is cranked up to maximumwill he kill Doe in his angry/distraught state? Or will he listen to Somerset, calm down and not let Doe win? (which links back tot he constant hints of the conflicts between Somerset and Mills) Because as Somerset says: ‘he wants you to shoot him.’ and ‘if you kill him, he wins’. And it’s this scenario that we’d never expect: that Doe has cleverly intertwined his plan of the series of the seven sin murders into Mills’ life. Therefore ruining it. And hearing that he had lost a child also, and with a flash of his wife in his head, this is what it takes to finally push him over the edge and empty his gun into Doe’s head.

The series of seven is over. Doe is dead and Mills will go to prison for his murder. And I think the only hint of an equilibrium is the fact Somerset implies he is not retiring after all, as he has seen too much to leave the world to rot and create killers like John Doe. He needs to fight for something better– a better world to live in, and the only way he knows how to do this is to continue with his job. I think it is that he has been effected by Doe’s motives and speech that sin is trivial and happens everyday and Somerset, like Doe, feels this is very very wrong and wants to stop it. And I think this is summed up nicely by his last line which happens to be the last line of the entire film:

‘Ernest Hemingway once wrote: the world is a fine place and worth fighting for. I agree with the second part.’

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