Pressure and Obsession in the Films of David Fincher

Piers McCarthy
February 2012 / November 15, 2018

This dissertation aims to show the recurring themes of pressure and obsession in the work of film director David Fincher. Looking specifically at Seven (David Fincher, New Line Cinema, 1995), Zodiac (David Fincher, Paramount Pictures, 2007) and The Social Network (David Fincher, Columbia Pictures, 2010), I will show the gradual change in style and subject matter while still highlighting the resonance of the two themes under analysis. Furthermore, it will be shown how obsession and pressure link to Fincher’s working method. I will be examining critical, journalistic and academic writings to assess the themes and Fincher’s directorial position. Whereas Seven has had a great deal written about it, Zodiac and The Social Network are more recent films and thus there is less literature on them. For this reason, study on both films should garner more original analysis.

The themes of pressure and obsession differ slightly in all three films, however, there is an overriding sense in each film that the workplace and environment has a pressurizing effect on the characters. What is more, pressure can at times define the notion of obsession. Obsession is mostly shown as a mutation of characters’ personal drive, or an extension of their duties for work. The two themes can at times separate themselves in terms of aesthetic and narrative presentation yet they are mainly one and the same; at times they can even be analyzed in the context of Fincher’s filmmaking practice.

Chapter one gives an overview of contemporary Hollywood, the role of the director, Fincher in relation to both of these, the two themes under analysis and deliberations on auteurist theory – this constitutes the literature review. The second chapter examines the impetus of investigative obsession, along with the presentation of morbidity and tension in Seven. Chapter three looks at the similarity in obsessive personalities along with suspense and drama in Zodiac. Chapter four focuses on The Social Network and obsession effecting status quo. The conclusion will draw on the comparisons and contrasts from chapters two to four. It will also give an overall account of how we may regard Fincher in contemporary Hollywood and in respect to auteur theory.

Read the full dissertation

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FincherFanatic (Blog) No More… Long Live FincherFanatic!

For a full decade, since January 2007, the FincherFanatic Blog has been the best source of information and news about one of the best directors of our time, and the unmissable gathering point for fans of exquisite and exciting filmmaking from all over the World.

Run with gentle fanaticism and infectious enthusiasm by FincherFanatic, it has officially ceased its activity due to “life catching up” with his author, who has kindly passed the torch to this site:

FincherFanatic (Blog) No More

Posted by: FincherFanatic
July 6, 2017
fincherfanatic.blogspot.com

Not that this were actually a news-worthy item at this point: Life has caught up, as so often it does, and as I am sure you all have guessed at this point. Time for the fincherfanatic blog there is no more — enthusiasm for Fincher’s work and craft will certainly remain…

I am deeply thankful for you wonderful bunch of fincherfanatics that have assembled here over the years, thank you for all of your emails, sharing your links and resources, and once again: a heartfelt thank you to Mr. Fincher himself for allowing me to meet him for a very generous interviews a few years back. Fincher’s works have been great subjects of study for my own story-telling and film-making efforts. Creating and maintaining this blog for some years was an instructive and very very fun thing to do. […]

That being said, there will be no more updates to this blog. I saw Daryl has set-up a new Fincher blog over at https://thefincheranalyst.com/, which I hereby highly recommend, and I will make sure to drop by there in the future.

Daryl, good luck with that, and thank you for carrying the torch.

To everyone else, thanks for stopping by and sticking around.

It will still remain as an invaluable source of 10 years worth of information, so keep it in your bookmarks or add it if it is not there yet.