Favourite Movie Scenes: Se7en

The Movie

Seven, or Se7en if you’re into that whole smart-ass logo thing, is one of those movies that I find endlessly watchable. I love it. It never dulls, never seems worn with repeated viewings, its themes and visuals always sit comfortably in my mind and my eyes. Some people have mood music, I have mood movies and there are definitely times when Seven is the movie for my mood.

David Fincher managed to rise from the ashes of his much-maligned debut, Alien3, with this audacious, poetic take on the serial killer movie. He has since become one of America’s most original and inventive filmmakers. Much imitated but never bettered, Seven is the perfect example of suggestive horror. Of all the murders (or forced suicides) that take place in the movie, we actually witness only one being perpetrated. Of the others, we just see glimpses of the aftermath and our imaginations do the rest. Centred by outstanding performances from both Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, Seven is dark, contemplative and merciless at its resolution.

The Scene

In a gloomy, unnamed city, new recruit Detective Mills (Pitt) and seasoned veteran Detective Lt. Somerset (Freeman) are investigating a series of murders which appear to be have been based upon the seven deadly sins. With victims mounting and very little to go on, the two men pursue the investigation in their own particular way…

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Why I Love It


It would have been easy to pick some of the more recognisable scenes from Seven; one of the crime scenes, perhaps, or that infamous final scene with the box. But in the middle of all the darkness, horror and endless rain of Fincher’s movie sits this thoughtful and rather beautiful little moment of calm. It is almost an intermission, and I love that.


The Music

Air on a G String is one of my favourite pieces of classical music, and Bach’s melancholy masterpiece suits the languid, pensive tone of this scene perfectly. The fact that it seems far more out of place in the moments involving Pitt’s Detective Mills than it does with Freeman’s Detective Lt. Somerset speaks volumes for who they are.


The Location

I’m not entirely sure where this scene was filmed, but I wish there were a library like that where I live. It’s gorgeous! Almost all of Seven is set in run-down, beat-up looking buildings and offices, rain soaked and maudlin. The library, in contrast, is like some grand museum, with high ceilings and stone floors. From his familiarity with the Night Watchmen, you just know that Somerset comes here often, perhaps for refuge from the hellhole he lives in. And who can blame him?


Highlighting the Differences

Seven is very much a character study of two contrasting police officers; the young, idealistic Mills and the older, wizened Somerset. This scene gives us a brief but telling comparison of men and methods. While Mills sits, beer in hand, endlessly studying the crime scene pictures, Somerset hits the library. Mills exists in the moment, for him all the answers are there in the event itself. Somerset likes to look deeper, to the past and to the things that may have influenced the event. Mills’ crime scene photos depict the recent crimes, that might seem original in their detail and savagery. Somerset’s reading choices are a poetic reminder that man’s cruelty to man is nothing new.


.Seven may not be the most cheerful and uplifting of movies. It is harrowing, pessimistic and offers little in the way of hope when the end credits roll. But there are few films quite like it. It possesses an element of dark beauty, which is never more evident than in this scene.

17 people thought reading “Favourite Movie Scenes: Se7en” was a good idea. They even said stuff about it.

  1. Danny King on

    For my money, Fincher’s made two of the best serial killer movies I’ve seen: “Seven” and “Zodiac.” And although this library scene wouldn’t be one most people will single out, it is put together beautifully. It’s an original take on a type of scene that is almost obligatory in this genre of movies.

    • Richard on

      There were certainly other scenes from the movie that I could have included. ‘Sloth’, for one. But there are definitely elements which elevate this one beyond the ‘Team America’ montage scene and I love its execution.

      I appreciate the comment. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Castor on

    One of Fincher’s masterpiece imo, I really love the oppressive atmosphere he created for this movie and featured in this scene (and throughout the movie). Morgan Freeman is perfectly cast as is Kevin Spacey and Brad Pitt. One of my favorite crime mystery of all time!

  3. joem18b on

    Nice review!

    I’m reading Snow Crash (1992), the classic SF novel, which has a character named Da5id in it. I wonder if there is a connection there with Se7en… or with Numb3rs, the TV show. How did this number thing get started – you say it’s a logo thing? And why did Fincher go along with it? Inquiring minds want to know. And come to think of it, inquiring minds want to know where “Inquiring minds want to know” came from.

  4. Fitz on

    A lot of people argue Fight Club is Fincher’s finest work, but I go with Zodiac and Se7en everytime.

    Such an overused theme and yet Fincher nails it out of the park both times.

  5. Rory Dean on

    Well written as always – A great summary and perfect choice of scenes from a film that is very nearly perfect from start to end. Oddly enough, I didn’t like this film when I first saw it in theaters. Call me odd, call me foolish – I was annoyed that we didn’t get to see the ‘bad guy’ (Spacey) much if at all until the end of the film and then when we did, it didn’t pay off right away, rather relying upon a ‘catch ending’. Then of course I came to my senses after a second screening, after I had applied and was accepted into film school – maybe the first time in theaters I was just stressed out. Suffice it to say, I’ve watched this film a dozen or more times since and each time I find something else that resonants; and like you Richard, I really love this scene. You make great points about the symmetry of this scene and how it juxtaposes so much of the grit and grime corralled by the brutal detritus of the crime scenes. I think this scene perfectly defines each character, either adding to what we already know or expanding so that we become thoroughly attached to them. I would go so far as to say at this point in the film, we would follow these characters anywhere and like them even more at the end.

    Good points on Fight Club and Zodiac, though the later would rate below the former in my opinion. I’m looking for his next film after the FB thing. I appreciated it but his style feels stilted rather than expanded. Cheers->

    • Richard on

      Thanks, Rory. What a thoughtful and well written comment.

      I must confess I wasn’t expecting much from The Social Network at all, but it really surprised me. I should have known better because Fincher always delivers for me. But I wonder if remaking The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a step too far. I’m a big fan of the original and I don’t see how even he can improve on it.

      • Rory Dean on

        I heard that the franchise was going to be given the American-audience once over but I hadn’t heard Fincher was attached. I have to say I’m going to avoid all press, all reviews, all anything and just go see it. That really does inspire me to invest though like you, I am a bit perplexed as to why Fincher?

        • Richard on

          I guess he seems the natural choice, given the material. I don’t like American remakes of foreign movies, but if it was going to be anyone I’m glad it’s him.


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