Thursday, October 28, 2010

Two Serial Killers by Fincher, p2 Se7en

One would be hard pressed to find a more disturbing “main stream” successful movie than Fincher’s Seven from 1995. It is truly a depressing and horrific movie in the way that it exposes how far our culture has fallen into a depraved apathy. If you are the sort of person for whom the “not a recommendation” tag on NonModern was created, please note that this movie has that tag and this post is not an appeal for you to rush out and experience this film. Most people know the plot already, whether they have seen it or not.

Once again, we have a serial killer story that is not about the serial killer. That point needs to be defended, because most people remember this film for the elaborate way in which John Doe “preaches” his message through his killings. He claims he is doing God’s work, judging sinners for the sins that they commit. The true theme of this movie is not the evil sins that are being judged, but the apathetic attitude of the society where the sins exist. This theme is best seen through the real main character of this story, Morgan Freeman’s Detective William Somerset.

The film takes place in an unnamed city, where it is constantly raining and everything is cloudy and depressing. Every character in the film struggles with living in this city and dealing with the evil and hopelessness that is pervasive there. Somerset has become so fed up with the futility of fighting crime in the city, that he is retiring from the police force and moving away. In his final week on the job, he is orienting his replacement, Brad Pitt’s Detective Mills. Mills is an ideal young detective who is excited to be making a difference. He fought for the chance to come to this city that most people avoid. He hates the evil he sees around him and he wants to fight it. Mills wife is visibly wilting in the oppressive atmosphere, but he is oblivious to that fact.

With all of the shocking murders that Mills and Somerset investigate, the key scene is a quiet moment where the two talk while waiting for a development in the case. Somerset explains why he is leaving the job and the city.

“I just don't think I can continue to live in a place that embraces and nurtures apathy as if it was virtue.”

Mills throws that back in his face. “You’re no different. You’re no better.”

Somerset admits that he understands how apathy is easier than facing the hard life of the city. In leaving his post, he is showing his own form of apathy. He hates the attitude he sees around him, but he has given up himself. This conversation and Mills enthusiasm to fight for good are what start to bring Somerset around. He begins to take an interest in his work again. He embraces the fight against evil.

John Doe may represent a voice railing against evil in the city, and in Mills we see a character that is emotionally driven to fight evil but ill equipped to do so, however it is Somerset who has the intelligence and skill to really fight evil. That knowledge also means he recognizes that it is a never ending battle. What Somerset (and this story) lacks is hope, and that is why it is so depressing.

For many people, we live in a world much like Seven’s city. Without hope, our only choices would delusion, apathy or despair. That is why people avoid the important questions in life. If they do not know the hope that Christ has given us, they will do whatever they can to not acknowledge their condition. God’s true message for them is one of hope. God does not merely confront people with their sin to be punished as John Doe claimed to be doing. God exposes it as He provides the means for it to be forgiven… on the cross. When we know the message of the cross, then we can agree with both parts of Hemingway’s quote at the end of the movie: “The world is fine place and worth fighting for.”

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