Seven (film)

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German title seven
Original title Se7en
Seven dvd logo title.svg
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1995
length 127 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director David Fincher
script Andrew Kevin Walker
production Phyllis Carlyle ,
Arnold Kopelson
music Howard Shore
camera Darius Khondji
cut Richard Francis-Bruce

Sieben (original title Se7en ) is an American thriller that combines elements of neo-noir with those of horror films . The second work by director David Fincher is about a serial killer who is obsessed with the seven deadly sins and stages them with his victims. The film was released on September 22, 1995 in US and Canadian cinemas and on November 23 in Germany.


In a rainy American city, Detective Lt. William Somerset is preparing to retire after many years of service. Last week he was assigned his successor, Detective David Mills, as a partner. Mills moved to town with his wife, Tracy. He has already worked for the homicide squad, but is initially ambitious and arrogant towards Somerset.

Mills and Somerset are investigating a crime scene where a morbidly obese man was apparently fed to death in his home. Wrists and feet are tied together with wire, and there is a bucket of vomit under the table. The autopsy shows that the man had to eat until he literally "burst", that is, died of internal bleeding.

His supervisor puts Mills on another case (because of the tension between him and Somerset), the gruesome murder of a prominent lawyer who was tortured and forced to cut off parts of his body in his office and who died as a result of that self-mutilation . The word " greed " is written in blood on the carpet .

Somerset re-investigates the first crime scene and discovers the word " indulgence " in bold on the wall behind the refrigerator. His thesis: the two murders are related and were committed by the same person; five more murders will follow - along the lines of the seven deadly sins .

Somerset and Mills work together, sometimes reluctantly, but with growing fear that the killer is highly intelligent and always one step ahead of them. They find fingerprints in the "greed" murder that lead them to a known sex offender and drug dealer . But when the policemen come to his apartment, they find the man tied to his bed, who is dying after exactly one year of imprisonment and immobility. A doctor commented on his condition by saying that he had never seen anyone suffer like this before. One hand was severed and used to fingerprint. The word " indolence " is on the wall.

Mill's wife, Tracy, meets with Somerset. She tells him that she is pregnant and has not told David yet because she is not sure if she wants to bring a child into this world. Somerset tells her that he faced the same decision a long time ago and persuaded the woman to terminate the pregnancy . Although he is convinced that the decision was the right one, he regrets it every day.

Frustrated, Somerset decides to bribe an FBI agent to obtain information from a database listing people who borrow books (on certain indexed subjects) from public libraries. He gives the agent a list of books on the seven deadly sins and is given a number of names, including that of a man who calls himself John Doe .

When the two detectives go to Does's apartment, they meet him in the hallway. Doe opens fire and escapes. Mills pursues him, cannot stop him, is beaten down by him and threatened with a gun. However, the attacker leaves Mills and escapes. In the man's apartment, the investigators discover a darkroom for developing photos and a kind of shrine with evidence of his previous murders, in between hints of future victims, including a photo of a blonde prostitute . In addition, you will find the receipt from a fetish shop for the custom-made strap-on with a sharp blade .

When Somerset and Mills visit the owner of the SM shop for questioning, the detective duo is immediately called to the next crime scene in a dim basement brothel. On the door to a red-lit hour room there is the carved word " Lust ". Inside, in a bed, lies the murdered blonde prostitute who was raped to death by the manipulated strap-on. Mills and Somerset argue about the value of their work. Somerset is not, like Mills, convinced that staying a cop will change anything in this world.

The next day, a fifth murder is known. A model was found dead in the bedroom with a mutilated face. The perpetrator had given her the choice of either continuing to live disfigured or taking her own life with pills. The word " arrogance " is written in blood on the headboard of the bed . When Mills and Somerset return to their office, they meet John Doe, who is bloodied and volunteers.

He offers to plead guilty if he is allowed to accompany Mills and Somerset to the place where he is hiding the last two victims. On the way there, he explains to them the motivation for his behavior. He wanted to make society aware of its sinful behavior. The only way to do that is to do something that cannot be ignored.

Your goal is a deserted country road in an inhospitable steppe far outside the city limits. After getting out of the car, a delivery truck approaches. The car stops, the driver hands Somerset a package for Mills. Inside the package is the severed head of Mills' wife Tracy. John Doe wished for the normal life of Mills and Tracy, envied them because he couldn't have it, and therefore saw himself as the embodiment of envy . Mills also learns from Doe that his wife was pregnant. The paid clues about Mills' living conditions, which he obtained by posing as an anonymous reporter, enabled Doe to commit the murder of Tracy.

Horrified, desperate and furious, Mills ultimately shoots John Doe and thus becomes the embodiment of the last remaining mortal sin, anger . Mills is arrested. The film ends with a quote from Somerset: " Ernest Hemingway once wrote: 'The world is so beautiful and worth fighting for.' I agree with the second part. "


Leading actor Brad Pitt (2019)
Pitt's adversary Kevin Spacey (2013)
David Mills ( Brad Pitt with the German voice of Tobias Meister )
The relationship between William Somerset and David Mills is fraught with tension at the beginning of the film; Mills' demeanor comes across to Somerset as arrogant, opinionated, and overly ambitious. Differences of opinion even lead to the separation of the unequal partners. Only Mill's wife, Tracy, manages to bridge the simmering conflicts and bring the two together as a team of investigators.
William Somerset ( Morgan Freeman with the German voice of Klaus Sonnenschein )
In contrast to the sarcastic Mills, Sommerset is much more level-headed and thinks first before he says anything. He shows empathy when talking to Tracy and tries to give good advice with his experiences. He can also open up to someone for the first time. He reports from his past and thus reveals the origins of his pessimism . As a result, the cooperation with his partner improves almost immediately, so that after the fifth murder he also finds an initial agreement.
Tracy Mills ( Gwyneth Paltrow with the German voice of Arianne Borbach )
In an interview with Somerset, Tracy's role as a mediator reveals itself, which strengthens and improves the relationship between Somerset and Mills and thus makes further cooperation possible.
John Doe ( Kevin Spacey with the German voice of Till Hagen )
Doe expresses his admiration for the two investigators several times. He speaks calmly, thoughtfully, and extremely goal-oriented, but is easily irritable. This can be seen when Mills asks him about the special features of his “work”. Does education and religious fanaticism shape the content and language of his dialogues with Mills and Somerset. At the end he incites Mills against himself with targeted provocations.

Furthermore, California (actor John C. McGinley ) from Michael Christian , the Police Captain (actor R. Lee Ermey ) from Helmut Müller-Lankow and District Attorney Martin Talbot (actor Richard Roundtree ) from Roland Hemmo are dubbed in German .

Themes & stylistic devices

Number symbolism

In the Christian symbolism of the Middle Ages, the seven stands as the “divine number” for grace or for peace and quiet and is also of central importance in the film. Parallels can be drawn between God and John Doe. The "works" of both were accomplished in seven days. William Somerset is also involved in the network around the number symbolism seven in the film, as he only has to work seven days before retirement and the package is delivered at seven o'clock. The number seven represents the immortality that John Doe aims to achieve with his works.

Deadly sins

The central theme of the film are the seven deadly sins . On the one hand, by punishing the first five "sinners", Doe takes on a task that classically only belongs to God . On the other hand, he also reveals himself to be fallible by killing an innocent woman - Mill's wife Tracy - even in envy . He finally receives his penance from Mills, who shoots him in a furious rage . Ultimately, he has to live with the loss of his wife as a punishment.

However, John Doe's view of deadly sins contradicts their theological meaning. The character traits, colloquially referred to as the seven deadly sins, correspond in this sense to the main vices , which can be the cause of many other sins, but do not necessarily lead to damnation themselves (see also differentiation from vice ). The consequences, especially with regard to the reception of this medieval concept, are sometimes viewed as problematic from a religious perspective. The order of the murders also deviates from Christian tradition for dramaturgical reasons.

Dogmatic order
Arrogance - greed - envy - anger - lust - gluttony - laziness
John Does Order
Excessiveness - greed - indolence - lust - pride - envy - anger

Literature references

Quotes from classical literature ( Geoffrey Chaucer - Canterbury Tales , William Shakespeare - The Merchant of Venice , John Milton - Paradise Lost , Dante Alighieri  - Divine Comedy ) run through the film as a red thread. John Doe quotes from the respective works to emphasize the meaning and symbolism of his actions. He comments on the “excess” murder with a verse from Paradise Lost : “Long is the road and arduous that leads out of hell into light.” Detective Somerset's Hemingway quote at the end of the film comes from the novel Whom Die Hour strikes . Freeman's role name, in turn, was borrowed from William Somerset Maugham , the author of the novel Der Menschen bondage mentioned in the film .


Besides the soundtrack by Howard Shore you can hear:


Cover picture of the "Platinum Edition" DVD

After David Fincher's creative and commercially disappointing cinema debut Alien 3 , the director, established with music videos , had already turned away from Hollywood films in frustration . Only Andrew Kevin Walker's script was able to arouse his interest again, as it continued the merging of crime and horror films that had recently begun with the silence of the lambs . The role of the enigmatic serial killer " John Doe " was cast with the aspiring character actor Kevin Spacey , who appeared almost simultaneously in The Usual Suspects . For the latter, similarly designed portrayal of a threateningly controlled psychopath , he received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor the following year and cemented his reputation for this type of role, to which he returned again and again as in Superman Returns or House of Cards .

Denzel Washington was originally intended for the role of Detective Mills, but he turned it down. In an alternate script version, the film ended in a race against time in which Mills Doe tries to prevent his wife Tracy from murdering. Brad Pitt, however, was so enthusiastic about the - finally realized - ending that he made his commitment to it.

In the scene where Mills is chasing John Doe, Brad Pitt fell and broke his arm. The accident was incorporated into the script. Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker made a cameo before the title sequence as a corpse in his own blood. Morgan Freeman's son Alfonso also starred in the film as a criminologist. In the film, which was bleach bypass (contrast enhancement and black and white overlay) applied.

The film's producers wanted Kevin Spacey to be the first in the opening credits . This refused, however, in order to surprise the moviegoers with the identity of the murderer. Spacey was therefore not allowed to attend the film premieres or give interviews - which he himself saw as a great advantage. Since Spacey is not mentioned by name at the beginning of the film, he is the first named in the credits and also received a second mention there. It is also unusual for the credits to move down instead of up.


“An artificially and effectively staged detective film that creates an oppressive atmosphere of hopelessness and abysmal pessimism with exceptionally dark and gloomy images. In the end, however, he is more interested in the pathological results of the murder chain than in an act that would have hand and foot, so that even the effective design ultimately cannot make the badly tasteless story more enjoyable. "

“David Fincher's second feature film appears, like his first, ' Alien 3 ', as a nihilistic nightmare. Every picture is like a painting, every scene is a metaphor. The director had special set designs developed for the crime scenes, which were symbolically modeled on the respective deadly sins. Together with the 'Delicatessen' cameraman Darius Khondji and the production designer Arthur Max, Fincher designed a depressing, pre-apocalyptic-looking big city scenario. Mill's relationship with his wife Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow) seems like a desperate clinging to a last remnant of humanity. "

“Recommendable” “
Dark, threatening - and ingeniously staged”
“Fun: 0/3; Action: 2/3; Erotic: 0/3; Voltage: 3/3; Claim: 0/3 "

- TV Movie 25/04

Awards and nominations

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for seven . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , November 2005 (PDF; test number: 74 160 DVD).
  2. ^ Andrew James Johnston: Filming the Seven Deadly Sins - Chaucer, Hollywood and Postmodern Middle Ages . In: Thomas Honegger (Ed.): Riddles, Knights and Cross-dressing Saints . Lang, Bern 2004.
  3. Amy Taubin: The Allure of Decay . In: Sight & Sound , January 1996, p. 24. 
  4. a b c d e IMDB - Trivia
  5. ^ 'Seven' screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker Looks Back At What's Inside The Box, 20 Years Later. In: Uproxx. September 22, 2015, accessed March 2, 2017 .
  7. Seven. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  8. Link. (No longer available online.) In: . Formerly in the original ; Retrieved October 18, 2008 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archives )@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /