The Thrilling Parallels Between Detective Somerset and John Doe in ‘Se7en’

Emily Kubincanek
August 24, 2018
Film School Rejects

How can the good guy and bad guy be so similar?

At the core of any story is the relationship between protagonist and antagonist, especially in a story where the protagonist must understand his enemy in order to find him. The best battles between good and evil are convoluted with characteristics that could be categorized as either, or neither. When hero and villain are more alike than either would want to admit, that makes for a dynamite struggle between them. There are so many books out there that explain how to achieve that element in storytelling, but few movies ever do it as well as David Fincher’s serial killer masterpiece Se7en (1995).

Honestly, we’ve learned to expect nothing less than greatness with a Fincher + serial killer collaboration, and Se7en was his first. This almost neo-noir thriller follows the investigation of a serial killer using the seven deadly sins to justify brutal killings all over an unnamed city. Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is an aging homicide detective on his way out of the department when he’s assigned the worst last case. He’s paired with his replacement, an idealistic and determined young detective named Mills (Brad Pitt). They’re forced to work through their differences to solve the case, which is more horrifying and unpredictable than either could imagine.

There are viable arguments for who is the true protagonist in this movie, Somerset or Mills. For the sake of reading the rest of this article, just humor me if you disagree that Somerset is the protagonist in this story. He begins and ends this movie, most of the struggles are his own, and he’s in 90 percent of the scenes. While Mills has a major relationship with the killer John Doe (Kevin Spacey) as well, what convinces me that he is not the protagonist is the connection and similarities between Somerset and Doe.

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In conversation with… Lee Child on David Fincher’s Se7en

A video of Lee Child’s intro to last year’s BFI screening of “SE7EN“. I was there that night for the specially imported, ‘privately owned’ (QT?), original CCE 35mm print. I would have preferred a 4K DCP…

Joe Frady

November 30, 2017
BFI (YouTube)

Thriller author Lee Child talks to the BFI‘s Stuart Brown about David Fincher’s dark crime thriller, which follows a detective duo who find themselves pursuing a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins to theme his murders. With a great ensemble cast and Darius Khondji’s camerawork helping to bring out the bleak, urban landscape, Se7en was a worldwide success.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — Breaking Convention

Michael Tucker
January 30, 2018
Lessons from the Screenplay (YouTube)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an exciting thriller about an unlikely pair of misfits trying to solve a forty-year-old crime, but it’s also interesting from a structural perspective. It uses a non-conventional, five-act structure. This video breaks down the anatomy of an act, to examine how the film breaks the rules while following them at the same time.

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Books in this video
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Into the Woods: A Five-Act Journey Into Story by John Yorke
Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

Watch the previous video on The Avengers and traditional act structure:

David Fincher quote:
BFI LFF: MINDHUNTER Q&A with David Fincher hosted by Nev Pierce. Audio
Min. 1:05:28

Other Lessons from the Screenplay:
Gone Girl — Don’t Underestimate the Screenwriter
True Detective vs. Se7en — Creating Light Amongst The Dark

How Mindhunter Gets Under Your Skin

 

Overanalyze
Published on 15 Nov 2017
YouTube

A video essay analysing what makes Mindhunter so creepy.

Mindhunter is a Netflix original crime drama series executive produced by David Fincher set in the late 1970s in which two FBI agents expand criminal science by delving into the psychology of murder and getting uneasily close to all-too-real monsters.

Features portrayals of real-life serial killers such as Ed Kemper, Richard Speck, Monte Ralph Rissel and Jerry Brudos.

The Plot Twist Checklist

Ciara Wardlow
August 8, 2017
Film School Rejects

A toolbox for the construction of plot twists, not an instruction manual (nobody reads those anyway).

A great plot twist is the stuff movie legends are made of. It’s what separates the good from the mind-blowingly great; the fertile ground from which many a movie meme and some of the most iconic lines in all of film history have sprouted (“No, I am your father,” “What’s in the box?!”, Bruce Willis is a ghost, etc.). As a good plot twist thrives on innovation and doing the unexpected, it is impossible to put together a genuine “how-to” guide for the crafting of plot twists. Instead, included below is a curated collection of some of the tools most frequently used in the construction of the best cinematic twists and turns. Maybe some of you might want to use these to craft some of your own twisting narratives, but even if not, as with any art, identifying and understanding the tools being used only enables a deeper appreciation of the finished product.

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