Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"What's in the box?!"

Se7en, ranks as one of my top 3 favorite films of all time. The climatic ending of the film where John Doe reveals the final two sins of envy and wrath, is a scene in itself worthy of any numerous amount of awards and recognition.
I must have watched this film a thousand times, literally. Each time, finding some small detail or nuance in Pitt's, Freeman's or Spacey's performance. For whatever reason this morning, the movie popped into mind and I posted the incredible final scene to my Facebook page. (#sharingrandomness) To my surprise, watching the scene again, I took notice of something which had somehow gotten by me all the other times: When detective Somerset (Freeman) discovers the contents of "the box", he immediately begins to make his way back toward detective Mills (Pitt) in an effort to keep Mills from going crazy and killing John Doe (Spacey). He hurries across the field yelling for Mills to put his gun down. He even goes so far as telling the other officers above in a helicopter that "John Doe has the upper hand here!" When he finally reaches Mills, it's obvious that Doe has revealed to him the contents of the box: "Her pretty head!" ie: Mills' wife's head. Mills slowly loses his mind as he begins to comprehend the reality of what has happened. Somerset continues to implore Mills to put the gun down and not to shoot Doe. Mills breaks down in pain and finally anger. He becomes...."wrath" as John Doe wants him to and shoots Doe numerous times, killing him on the spot. Now, here's what I never took note of: The fact that Somerset could probably have stood between Doe and Mills or physically tried to restrain Mills in effort to stop him from shooting his gun. It was one of those questions where you think you know better than the director and say "Now that was silly, why didn't he just physically restrain Mills or something?!"
It was at that moment that I recognized yet another, deliberately genius choice in the making of this film. Detective Somerset throughout the entire film is a man dealing with his frustration over crime, justice and an imperfect legal system. He is tired. Worn down and worn out. He has seen much chaos, much evil and cannot make sense of any of it. In essence, has given up on trying to.
That moment, as he tries to tell detective Mills not to shoot Doe, he is once again, caught between wanting to do what is right, the "legal way" and what is actually "just" the illegal way. He knows Mills will be held accountable for shooting an unarmed, restrained suspect, yet he also knows that Doe truly deserves to die. Not being able to make sense of good and evil or crime and punishment once again has him more or less indifferent. He has felt useless in his later years as a cop and feels as if most of his work has been pointless. So, it quickly made sense to me that he would stand there, convincing Mills not to kill Doe, but at the same time, not really take any action to prevent it.

Anyway, just my small observations and yet another example of great directing and the perfection of this film.

Perhaps you have a different take.

One last thing:

The very last line of the film belongs to Somerset in voice over:

Ernest Hemingway once wrote- "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree, with the second part.

You can view the gripping ending at the link below: