Loading
Note di Apprendimento
Study Reminders
Support
Text Version

Seven (1995) - Enigmatic Code and Key Connotations

Set your study reminders

We will email you at these times to remind you to study.
  • Monday

    -

    7am

    +

    Tuesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Wednesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Thursday

    -

    7am

    +

    Friday

    -

    7am

    +

    Saturday

    -

    7am

    +

    Sunday

    -

    7am

    +

Good morning. So, we will begin with reading of David Fincher’s ‘Seven’, 1995 movie, starring Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, and of course Kevin Spacey; so you know how important he is. This is the tag line of seven, seven deadly sins, seven ways to die. So, this is the tag line and then you have all those seven deadly sins enlisted on the poster. So, we are going to read Seven in particular with reference to semiotics, signs, symbols and codes, the enigmatic code and the cultural code. And we have already looked at these codes in some detail; what it is, what is meant by the enigmatic code and what is the cultural code. So, can you just refresh what we were doing in the last class, what is an enigmatic code? We looked at the picture of ‘Vertigo’. Student: Vertigo. And two women, James, James Stewart planned by two poses, two, two looks, rather of Kim Novak; the dark hair and the blond. So, I said, this is an, this is the good example of the enigmatic code. What were we talking about?Student: Setting of puzzle something which to the audience or viewers should be solved. Good. So, enigmatic code is all about setting a puzzle. So, Seven falls in the category of puzzle cinema. It is a cultural category also, cultural code, we will see why. These horrifying images in the title, in the opening credit sequence of Seven,mutilated fingers of dead body. So, what is ‘Seven’? Seven, also pay attention tothe way the producers, and the film makers, the makers of Seven; wrote the title, designthe title very enigmatically with number 7 as well inserted, giving it an economy ofexpression as well as conveying a certain kind of signs, a symbol to it.So, Seven is a study-in-sin. If you ask us what is Seven all about? What is the movie all about?Seven is a study-in-sin.As someone was rightly pointing out just now, it is thriller, it is the detective movie,and the heroes are detectives as played by Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt.It is a crime movie; after all it is a movie where there is the killer atlarge, a serial killer at large. So, it is crime movie, it is a detective movie, atsome level it is also film noir.We have been talking about film noir, exploring the darkundertones of someone’s personality, so it is a noir.It is also a horror, and what kind of horror; there is the genre of horror called the body horror.It is believed that in modern times, in our contemporary times,the body is no longer sacred; it can be violated bysomeone at any time, so it could be during wars, it could be mugging, it could be anythingand here in ‘Seven’, you have a serial killer who delights in violating bodies.Just in aside, David Cronenberg, the Canadian filmmaker is the master in body horror.If you have watched his movies like, can you give me some example?Eastern Promises or Videodrome, eXistenZ, Crash, all these movies are studied, studies in body horror.So, body horror, looks at with fascination at mutilated bodies; that is where horror comes from.So, we know how Seven begins and how horribly it ends with mutilated bodies,body of someone you know. So, that is what we mean by body horror.The title or number Seven is an index; it acts as the index, index, we know points out something.But point out at what? So, just number Seven can tell you that God took sevendays to create the world, so seven is an important number.We also talked about seven pillars of wisdom, symbolically.We also talked about, Seven Wonders of the World, seven cardinal virtues,seven sins, seven colors of the rainbow.And of course, you know, detective Somersetin the movie has seven days to go before his final retirement. So, this would be, perhapsbe of interest to you, that inspite of having very huge star like Brad Pitt and reasonablybig star like Morgan Freeman in the movie, Seven initially did not market itself as a Brad Pitt movie.What did it market itself as? Just the title, the study-in-sin, becausethe makers felt; this in the western world, this is catch up, this is the marketable enough commodity.So, they need not; so I was reading some reviews of the movie all very, the moviewas received extremely well. It has survived the test of time, it is the canonical movie.So, initially when it was released, people wondered that why in spite of having Brad Pitt,the makers did not bother to put Brad Pitt on the posters and market it that way, why seven,because of the fascination of the western world with the idea of sin.So, I draw your attention to the DVD cover, you can look at it, no Brad Pitt, no Gwyneth,only Seven, and that is the way the DVD has been released. Look at this, the inside jacketof DVD, of this DVD and what does it appear to you like? Looks like a book, it looks like a book, cover of a book.And why are books so important in the movie?Collection of notes, exactly. So notebooks and book; there is a very integral, very vital scene in the moviewhich takes place in the library, Morgan Freeman is trying to decipher the meaning of thesemurders and we know what book he is reading, so we will come to that.So, Morgan freeman or Somerset as his character is called, he also refers to seven slain children in Dante’s purgatory,purgatory is the part in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Of course, now that we knowthe movie, we know it is about seven days in seven, sorry, seven sins in seven days.So, I asked you to watch the movie, how does it begin? I am sorry, I cannot show you themovie or the clipping here right now, but how does it begin?Student: He will be getting ready.Regular workday in Morgan Freeman’s life. How does it begin? He is putting on his cloths,he is very meticulously dressing up, what does it tell you about? So, those are littleclues and signs about his character, what do they tell you about? He is very methodical,he is the, he, he likes to be prepared, he is very thorough, it is, a great brain, thatis how one of his superiors refer to him, that do not retire so soon. I mean, he wantsto retire and they say, you are one of the greatest brains here we know and that is just seven days to go.So, Morgan Freeman, after all, you know great actor,but in 1995, we have had glimpses of his greatness in film such as ‘Driving Miss Daisy’,it was an Oscar winning movie, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and also, he was Robinhood’spartner in Kevin Reynold’s ‘The Prince of Thieves’. So, we knew Morgan Freeman,you know the movie capitalizes on the Morgan Freeman’s persona, and I am not talkingabout his more contemporary movies, like The Dark Knight series, all this happen later after Seven.But before Seven we had The Shawshank Redemption, we had Driving Miss Daisy, wehad the Prince of Thieves. And what kind of character did he specialized in playing;wise person, the wise guy, not wise guy as in, as a pejorative but wise guy in a very positive way.He is the person who has wisdom, who the hero can depend on.So, therefore, if the hero is Brad Pitt, the young, good looking, hunky hero;you have the older, wiser, Morgan Freeman.The movie has, let me stress it very emphatically that movie has no interest inthe color of his skin; Seven is not about racism at all, it is just that we have blackactor doing the great role, a great job of it, otherwise there is no important as suchto his race, to the color of his skin.Opening scene, key connotations we have beenlooking at, connotations and denotations, remember. So, connotations when the movie opens andwe know, that Morgan Freeman very meticulously getting dressed up, getting ready for theday, we see road signs; at the signs, so film’s fascination, preoccupation with signs continues.David Fincher is the maker who is fascinated by the system of signs, Zodiac.The external Sound, now which city is it set in?Does is it mention anywhere? Does not mentionDoes not mentioned, it is just any metropolis, and what happens in metropolises according to ‘Seven’?Cranks. So, when we are talking about film noir the other day, we all talkedabout, we all agreed that film noir is, more often than not, set in big cities, sometimesevens in sub-urban, sometimes even in rural areas, like the Postman always Rings Twice,but not always. So, set in metropolis, unnamed metropolis could be any city.The city sounds at the beginning, so we have cars honking,neighbors making some kind of sounds etcetera, etcetera.And how, notice how the makers, the film makers contrasts those external soundwith Somerset’s internal world, the internal, and the inner space of Somerset’s being.So, it is very calm, it is very quiet, while he is, he lives in calmness and quietude;you hear all these city noises outside.What, what are those signs? What is the filmmaker trying to tell you here?In spite of the chaos outside, he is still able to find some momentsof peace within him that is the kind of character; because see, he is the world weary characterwe recognize that. He has seen too much, he is sick of the crime, of the crimes that hehas been witnessing throughout his professional life, but still he has been able to retainsome semblance of sanity. That is because it comes from within, the calmness come from within.That is an important feature of Morgan Freeman’s character in Seven, and this iscompletely juxtaposed with always on the edge, hero Brad Pitt.So, we also see in the beginning, opening sequence the chess set in the foreground that says,tells you lot about a man who is very, who is quite an expert in the game of chess, he is an intellectual.We are given certain signs and clues, it may not necessarily be so butthe filmmakers, what they do to emphasize on someone’s mind; they surround the roomwith books perhaps, the room with so called intellectual game, like set of chess.Then you have metronome, remember, metronome in the beginning of the movie? What does he do?He sets the metronome and excludes the sounds, which are taking place outside.So, metronome dissolves sort of the sound that are emanating from the outside.What does it tell you about Somerset?He is someone who can take control of things if he wants to and that is his character;that is the way his character is established.At one point, when the first murder occurs,and Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman visit the scene of crime and Brad Pitt never stops talking,he is always the hubbub, and then Somerset at one point cannot take it anymore and hesays, will you please be quiet. He wants, he can, he knows he cannot control everythingbut things that he can control, he does control, and calm and peace is something that he requires.So, at one level, Seven’s hero can also be Morgan Freemanbecause he is the most identifiable character in the movie.Opening credit, wonderfully done, if you have not watched the movie watchit again and just watch the first 10 and, and the last 10 minutes of the movie, youwill get a hang of it. So, opening credit is the montage; you know montage, quick cuttingbetween two different, at a couple of different acts going on.So, you have Doe, and who is Doe? John Doe, the serial killer, we do not see his facefor a very long time a major star playing John Doe and we do not get to see him fora very long period of time, that is interesting.Now, Doe’s work and when it goes on we seeclose up of Doe’s hands and his handiwork; so writings on the note book, stitching bodies,peeling of skin from his fingers, so that not to leave finger prints, yeah, using scissors,things you know, which required dexterous use of hands.So, therefore, at the begin,in the beginning of the movie we saw very close-up shot of hands, mutilated fingers but hands are important.And Doe’s work is accompanied by the Nine Inch Nails,the sound track is closer, you take me closer to God, that is the closing line of that songand which is important because; Nine Inch Nails were fascinated with another serialkiller Charles Manson and initially, this song, soundtrack was recorded in Charles Manson’s house.So, Nine Inch Nails, the group was extremely close to notorious real life serial killer Charles Manson.Somerset’s world, on the other hand is contrasted with Doe’s.Now, why Doe and why Samoset? Why are we comparing the two, one is an out-and-out good guy?Both extremely methodical, both extremely intellectual, Brad Pitt, Mill’s character,he does not come anywhere close to these people; intellectually he is just not there.So, the entire mind game is between Somerset and John Doe, therefore it is interesting to note thatJohn Doe's handiwork is matched with Nine Inch Nails’ soundtrack, cacophonic sound, lotsof sound remixes, lots of, number of sounds mixed up there, whereas Morgan’s song isbox air on a G-string. So, it is all about calm, quietness, stability.So, the enigmatic code that we were looking at,what is Seven, what is so important about the title, number ‘Seven’?And how is the myth of the seven deadly sins used in plot development, if youremember the killer at one point surrenders himself, after which murder?Student: Five.Yeah, after the 5th murder. And David Finchersays that, when he first read the script, he thought, ok, movie is going to end now,5th murder and perhaps, there would not be any two more murders it just; but we knowthere are two more murders to come, it does not really happens so that. You know, in acrime movie you have certain expectations, the other day while discussing genre, we weretalking about we expect certain things, certain conventions from a genre;Rom-Com and an action movie,all these movies evoke certain expectations. A crime movie, a murder movie evokes certainkind of expectation that means that we expect the policeman; after all Brad Pitt is, BradPitt is our hero, so we expect him to catch the killer. Does not happen, he surrenders himself.So, that is, that is an enigma, the movie plays on the enigma of the conventional genre.So, the similarities between, point of similaritiesbetween Samoset and John Doe; both pains taking, thorough professional and intellectual,they take great pride in their professionalism.Interestingly, they have the same worldview; they know thatcivilization is beyond redemption. But while Morgan Freeman looks at the world with kindnessand compassion, John Doe’s character is more furious, he wants, he wants to avengehimself with he cannot tolerate other people’s weakness, limitations with imperfections.So, Somerset tolerates, Doe is intolerant.And now, of course the movie also plays onthe name John Doe, is this is a real name; but his real name is Jonathon in the movie.John Doe is an American every man, the regular average guy. So, is he the regular averageguy, thus another enigmatic code the movie is interested in, why this name?Now, the trope of an older black cop and younger white cop, we have already seen Lethal. weapon,And how does Seven differ from Lethal Weapon?Danny Glover, Mel Gibson, what is the relationship between them?Student: Friends.But here there are hierarchies, the senior and more experienced,more intelligent cop on the verge of retirement and the rookie who is all brawn and hardlyany brains; so that dichotomy is brought out very early on the movie.It plays on the genre of buddy movie, that friends and both MorganFreeman and Brad Pitt characters, they act as foils to each other.So, look at their initial interaction, it begins on a note ofhostility; they do not like each other, they do not want to work with each other.They dress very differently, one is methodical, as we have already seen, and another is quite sloppy.Manner of speaking? Morgan Freeman, very calm,very measured, very poised; Brad Pitt, on the other hand, cannot stop speaking, talking,he is a chatter box and most of the time he does not make much sense.The library scene gives the game away with the difference betweenthe two men, emphasizes the difference betweentwo men very, very prominently, where Morgan freeman is able to decipher codes from Dante’s Purgatorio.And what does Brad Pitt do? He is, yeah, yeah, and he also reads clip notesin order to understand Dante’s Purgatorio, so that is the difference between their intellectual prowesses.So, when we talk about study in binaries it cannot get better than that.So, I mean, we have been talking about chalk and cheese and that is the trope of buddy movie;again Lethal Weapon also plays on these binaries. Brains and brawn a relationship that beginsin hostility but ends in mutual respect.