Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Se7en: 3/4 of a Good Story

I always find it disappointing to read a novel that captures me from the first moment but falls short in the finale; movies work the same way. As in books, films have a definite climax, which often occurs very close to the final credits, and in the case of "Se7en," Walker fails as a writer (in my humble opinion) because the ending does not live up to the rest of the film. Yes, the acting is good--after all, with a roster that includes Pitt, Freeman, and Paltrow shouldn't we expect something worthwhile?--but the characters are too predictable. I think I would have been delightfully surprised if Mills had NOT shot Doe at the end. But Mills is known to act out and lose his temper, but it would have been nice to see him muster some character strength and refuse to succumb to Doe's plan. After all, in the end Mills is no better than Doe or any other murderer. Now perhaps you disagree because the crime against Mills was heinous, but this isn't "An Eye For an Eye," it's "Se7en" and although the seventh murder was necessary to complete the taxing list of deadly sins, wouldn't it be more interesting if Mills had turned Doe's twisted fantasy-turned-reality upside down?

Don't get me wrong, I love the film. The first time I saw Se7en, I was fascinated by the decisions made by the director and editor. I thought the story was brilliant; more impressive,though, it was new. Being Christian, I have always been fascinated by the idea of the seven deadly sins, and being Catholic, I was happy to see that "Se7en" does not include ONE priest. So regarding originality, the film scores well. Race, as mentioned by others, is a non-issue in the film; Mills and Somerset are just two cops trying to do their job. I find the way they work together refreshing after seeing "In the Heat of the Night."

Back to my issue with the ending: If anyone owns, or has rented, the DVD and watched the original ending for the test screen. In the test ending, Somerset begs Mills, "If you shoot him, David, he wins. If you kill him he beat us." In the final ending, though, Somerset only says the first sentence. I wonder why Fincher left out the "us" but....at least for our course, it seems like it could have been useful had it been left in. Also, as far as the actual scenes are concerned, the final ending contains countless close-ups of Mills' face in the final moments before he shoots Doe, but the test ending does not; similarly, the test ending does not contain the flash of Tracy's (Gwyneth's) face the instant before Mills shoots Doe. Most significantly, in the test ending, Mills shoots Doe once, only once. As we saw, the true ending shows Mills empthy six rounds into Doe although the first shot undeniably would have sufficed. The test ending ends at Doe's death; there is no glimpse of Mills leaving in the back of a cop car, nor does Freeman recite the Hemingway quote.So what were the motivations for all the changes? The answers are endless, but the changes are nice to note.


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