Se7en Film Analysis Essay

The seven deadly sins, gluttony, greed, lust, sloth, pride, envy and wrath, are all emotions that nearly every individual experience each day throughout their lives because of the social, political and economic factors that surround us each day. However, what would happen if we were truly punished for allowing these emotions to control us? This question establishes the plot for the film Se7en starring Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow which was released in 1995.

Nonetheless, the film does not solely focus on the seven deadly sins and the punishments that go along with them but raise questions moral questions about psychopathy and policing in today’s culture. In this essay I will discuss the how the film Se7en’s portrayal of policing in pop culture is reflective of the dialectical relationship and socio-historic context that was present in 1995 when the film was produced, based and released.

Furthermore, I will pay particular attention to the influence race has on policing as this was the first cop film that allowed the lead detective to be a man of colour. Additionally, to demonstrate the changes in society not only socially, but politically and economic that have occurred to influence how police have been portrayed by contrasting it with the film Dirty Harry (1971). Finally, I will support my argument using academic resources and evidence from Nicole Rafter’s novel, Shots in the Mirror: Crime Film and Society (2006).

In a dark and gloomy unnamed urban city that appears to be consistently full of crime, lead detective Somerset, played by Morgan Freeman, is growing tired of the terrible city he has been trying to protect for many years and is retiring within a week. Taking over his position is the young, eager and short tempered homicide detective, Mills, who has just moved to the city with his pregnant wife. The two team up for their first case and are sent to investigate a scene wear an obese man was found face down in a plate of spaghetti with an enormous amount of spaghetti sauce in his house.

In the beginning Mills believes the man must have simply eaten himself to death, however, Somerset is not as naive and demonstrates his superiority and leadership by exhibiting that it is a homicide by showing Mills the victim was bound at the hands and feet using barb wire after Mills states, “Who said this is murder? “; clearly showing he is less experienced and was not ready to fully investigate the case/ Following this murder the two must investigate a spiral of murders which become evident they are dealing with a serial killer who’s murders represent and punish the seven deadly sins from the Bible.

Somerset continues to demonstrate his experience over Mills throughout the film by not allowing his emotions to determine his actions as Mills becomes impulsive in scenes such as when the two catch a break and arrive at John Doe’ apartment and even after Somerset advises Mills to not enter without a warrant kicks down the door and goes in anyways. After the killer mysteriously appears at the police station covered in blood turning himself in for the murders of gluttony, greed, sloth, lust and pride they make a deal that he will give a written confession to the detectives if they take him that day to retrieve his two final victims.

After much deliberation Somerset and Mills agree to drive outside of the bleak city where light appears for the first time in the film and must walk towards an abandoned looking trailer when suddenly a delivery van drives down the deserted road which shocks and innerves both detective. Somerset runs to meet the van and leaves Mills with John Doe who begins revealing the information he has gained about Mills’ pregnant wife and life. Somerset, discovers the delivery truck deliberately sent at that time to deliver a package that contained Mills wife’s head which represent envy because John Doe envied his life.

Furthermore, Somerset states, “David. If you kill him, he will win” because it will complete the set as his death will serve as wrath, however, David consumed with emotions fires six bullets into John Doe. This demonstrates that Morgan Freeman’s character, Somerset, even though he is a black officer is much more skillful and intelligent than Mills which was the first time detectives of colour were represented as superior. Cop and Detective Films

Rafter (2006) discusses the evolution of cop films and how the portrayal of police officers has changed tremendously throughout the late twentieth century because of the dialectical relationship which she defines as a, “Two-way street [that] crime films draw from and in turn shape social thought about crime and its players. ” In other words, crime films reflect the social, political and economic issues in society and society is reflective of crime films because much of the population receives their information surrounding crime from film and popular culture.

Furthermore, the socio-historic context in which the film was made influences how many things are depicted throughout the film. This simply means that the events and issues that took place in the years encompassing the film’s release majorly influenced how the film was produced, who the characters are and many other factors. Rafter (2006) begins by revealing in earlier years police officers were characterized as goofy patrolmen who were not qualified for their job and never taken seriously.

This depiction was a reflection of the qualifications it took to be a police officer around the 1930s which were to be male and have completed the eighth grade. This illustration of police officers continued until the release of Dirty Harry in 1971 that paved the way for the cop film era to begin. As Rafter (2006) states Dirty Harry was possible because of several social factors such as because it appeared after Martin Luther King Jr. , Robert Kennedy and Malcom X’s assassinations which made the population question if the police were truly able to protect its citizens.