“Se7en”, or also known as “Seven”, is categorised as a film in the neo-noir Mystery Thriller genre, for the reason that this 1995 American film is based around two detectives William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and David Mills (Brad Pitt). They discover several brutal murders; all of which done by the serial killer John Doe (Kevin Spacey) who kills those who he thinks represent the seven deadly sins.
I believe that this film fits in the noir genre because the graphic images evident though the darkness reflects the characteristics of the genre, especially in the first sin of Gluttony.
The trailer for the film is below…
Director David Fincher and the Creative Director Kyle Cooper’s opening title sequence for the 1995 film Se7en was said to be “One of the most important design innovations of the 1900’s” according to the New York Times magazine. Which I will be analysing the use of camera, editing, sound and mise-en-scene in this blog post for the title sequence below.
The sequence begins with a close up shot of a book and instantly the audience is introduced to the hidden identity of what appears to be the anatgonist; as the double exposure, creates blurriness in the background resulting in us unable to see who’s hand is turning the page. Then a jump cut occurs at the same time the non-diegetic sound of the background music has a crashing sound; displaying the first title credit.
The above two screenshots demonstrates the use of how fast the edit was because in the same second, the typography is shown to be written backwards then jumps soon after to the readable way; where it continues to glitch and flicker on the screen. This adds to the confusement experienced by the audience, as first we can’t see who this person is and then the glitchy text.
Then there’s a wipe edit to the next shot of a drawing in a book, which the edit gives the impression that it was a shadow crossing the page; establishing the film in the thriller genre as shadows are conventions of this genre as I have previously researched. But also the eerie music and the diegetic sound of machines moving heighten the audience’s feelings of anticipation as we want to know what’s going to happen next, another characteristic of the thriller genre.
This reveals how the fast paced manner from the continuous use of jump cuts, makes the audience see brief glimpses of what’s happening, we don’t see anything for too long which makes the sequence very disconnecting.
Also what’s important to note is that at 0:23 the audience is introduced to name of the film; however it is very difficult to read the name. For the reason that you can see scratches on screen as the typography flickers, the writing style changes and increases and the white writing on the black screen intensifies the contrast between the two colours. Which Kyle Cooper decided on the idea of using a needle to degrade the footage by hand scratching to make a textured effect onscreen. I believe this was successful because both the scratches and quick edits create a realistic tone in which represents the mind of a psychopath. Therefore, revealing information about the film.
Next, there’s a change in lighting which was once low key lighting (emphasising the light and darkness), to now having a red filter for just the duration of 1 second. The colour red has negative connotations of blood an danger; again hinting at what will occur in the rest of the film. An element of mise-en-scene is props, which in this section of the sequence, it has an old fashioned edge from the books, newspapers, self-developed photographs etc is used, as shown below:
These extreme close ups hides the identity of the antagonist as each shot is of two different subjects, but remains the same in the sense that we can just see scissors being used to cut the negative film, but then jump cuts to pictures, and his hands using a blade to cut the plastic.At this moment, a high pitch sound effect is played in sync when he rips the plastic and non-diegetic sounds of rattling metal bars; creating the idea of confinement, like someone is trapped.This makes it seem like the person is a serial killer, as we can piece all the information together, like hiding his identity/thumbprints, pictures of possible victims, cutting out letters from newspapers.
(Hover your mouse over the bottom of each image below to find out more and click:)
However, the next superimposition of the previous book page fading into a young child with a line drawn through them, has an edit of a quick cut of the whole faced crossed out; changing the structure of the sequence. This happens at the same time the typography flashes white, unreadable for the audience; which we therefore feel like something bad is going to occur.
But at the same time, the non-diegetic sound bridge becomes more upbeat, louder in volume, with a much faster paced tempo. Resulting in an increase of the speed of the antagonist’s actions, the typography flickers more intensely and moves across the screen, the camera movement begins to shake and more jump cuts with a short/brief duration of each shot. Overall, the change of audio from it being slow paced until 1:12 where it suddenly increases in volume, makes the audience’s heart beat faster, near enough in sync with the sound. Furthermore, the build up of tension rises to a level that feels like something is going to happen at the end; thus the audience are intrigued to find out the outcome and continue to watch in anticipation.
There’s an extreme close up of a newspaper headline that reads “IN GOD WE..”where scissors are used to pick out the cuttings; this happens very quickly but we can glimpse at the newspaper and read God’s name, possibly hinting at how in the film the antagonist commits sins by murdering people. Which reveals a religious aspect in this thriller film; a sub-genre announced at the very end of the title sequence.
The editing technique of flash cutting happens soon after to a shot of a book case, suggesting the setting took place in a library of an urban city, typically used in films belonging to the thriller genre.
Then to end the sequence, the audio of what seems to be rock music fades out, whilst the final typography flickers across the screen for the Directors name. This completes the sequence, setting up for the next shot to start the film.