USA Crime Movies: 1995 Se7en - Directed By David Fincher

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Storyline: A film about two homicide detectives' desperate hunt for a serial killer who justifies his crimes as absolution for the world's ignorance of the Seven Deadly Sins. The movie takes us from the tortured remains of one victim to the next as the sociopathic "John Doe" sermonizes to Detectives Sommerset and Mills -- one sin at a time. The sin of Gluttony comes first and the murderer's terrible capacity is graphically demonstrated in the dark and subdued tones characteristic of film noir. The seasoned and cultured Sommerset researches the Seven Deadly Sins in an effort to understand the killer's modus operandi while green Detective Mills scoffs at his efforts to get inside the mind of a killer...

- This was voted the eighth scariest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly..

- Brad Pitt earned $7 million for this film.

- The word "fuck" and its derivatives are said a discernible 74 times throughout the movie, mostly by Brad Pitt.


  1. Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light.
  2. Detective Somerset is looking for a way out. Detective David Mills is looking for a way in. Now, they're caught in a game with a price of sin is death.
  3. Seven deadly sins. Seven ways to die.
  4. Gluttony * Greed * Sloth * Envy * Wrath * Pride * Lust
  5. Let he who is without sin try to survive
  6. Earnest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I believe the second part.

Crime | Drama | Mystery | Thriller

Technical Specs
Runtime: 127 min

Crazy Credits
The opening credits are done over broken, blurred images of John Doe removing the skin from his fingertips and sewing it into his journals


  • All of John Doe's books were real books, written for the film. They took two months to complete and cost $15,000. According to Somerset, two months is also the time it would take the police to read all the books.
  • While filming the scene where Mills chases John Doe in the rain, Brad Pitt fell and his arm went through a car windscreen, requiring surgery. This accident was worked into the script of the film. Ironically, the original script did call for Pitt's Det. Mills character to be injured during this sequence--but to something other than his hand.
  • The screenplay had references to a partner Mills had when he still lived in the country, named Parsons. Parsons was shot and killed while on a bust with Mills, and consequently Mills is overprotective of Somerset in some scenes. All references to Parsons were deleted before shooting began.
  • Mills and William Somerset discuss the book "Of Human Bondage", which was written by W. Somerset Maugham.
  • All the building numbers in the opening scene start with 7. The climactic delivery was scheduled for 7pm.
  • At exactly 7 minutes into the film Mills picks up the phone to be called over to the Gluttony scene.
  • The producers intended that Kevin Spacey should receive top billing at the start of the movie but he insisted that his name not appear in the opening credits, so as to surprise the audience with the identity of the killer. To compensate, he is listed twice in the closing credits: once before the credits start rolling, and once in the rolling credits in order of appearance. Another advantage from Spacey's point of view, as he saw it, was that he was excluded from the film's marketing during its release, meaning he didn't have to make any public appearances or do any interviews.
  • As preparation for his traumatic scene in the interrogation room, Leland Orser would breathe in and out very rapidly so that his body would be overly saturated with oxygen, giving him the ability to hyperventilate. He also did not sleep for a few days to achieve his character's disoriented look.
  • Morgan Freeman's son, Alfonso Freeman, played the part of a fingerprint technician.
  • The box full of photographs at the "Sloth" scene has written on the side "To the World, from Me."
  • Before Kevin Spacey was set to shoot his first scene, he asked director David Fincher if he should shave his head for the role. David Fincher replied "If you do it, I'll do it." Both Fincher and Spacey were bald for the remainder of the movie production.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow was David Fincher's first choice for the part of Brad Pitt's wife, having impressed him with her work in Flesh and Bone (1993). Paltrow was initially not interested so Fincher had to ask her then boyfriend - Brad Pitt - to get her to come in and meet with him.
  • Kevin Spacey was cast two days before filming began.

WARNING: Here Be Spoilers

SPOILER: Even though he's probably one of the most horrifying and sadistic killers in cinematic history, John Doe isn't seen killing anyone on screen.

SPOILER: To appease the producers, who wanted to soften the dramatic ending a bit, an alternate version of the ending was storyboarded, with Somerset saying that he "wants out", and killing John Doe, thereby preventing Doe from winning, and Mills from ending up in jail. In the mean time, the crew shot a test ending, which is basically the theatrical ending without some of the dramatic shots. This finale was so well received in screenings that it convinced the producers to go along with it, and not even film the alternate ending.

SPOILER: It is raining every day in the movie except for the last day. The reason is less about thematic issues and more about continuity. It rained on the first day that Brad Pitt filmed so they kept it going as they were rushing to do all of Pitt's scenes before he left to go make Twelve Monkeys (1995).

SPOILER: Kevin Spacey as the antagonist, John Doe, made his first appearance in the film, as the photographer taking pictures of Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman at the sloth crime scene. If you pause the film at 54:45, when Pitt's character was slapping the camera out of the photographer's hand, you can clearly see that, it is Kevin Spacey.

SPOILER: John Doe only kills one of the "sinners" himself, and even that one is by accident (kicking Gluttony to wake him up, which makes his stomach burst). All of his other victims either kill themselves (Greed & Pride) or are killed by other people (Lust & Envy) or survive (Sloth & Wrath). The only murder John Doe actually commits intentionally by his own hand is Tracy Mills.


* Revealing mistakes: The dead gluttony victim can be seen breathing.

* Revealing mistakes: Uneven dispersal of rainfall on the windows of the car.

* Revealing mistakes: Doe hits Mills on the top of the head, then leaves him behind, bleeding. If you look carefully, you can see a tube running on top of Mills' head, presumably carrying the fake blood to his forehead.

* Revealing mistakes: When the police are inspecting the body of the "lust" victim, you can see her blinking at the beginning of the scene.

* Revealing mistakes: Freeze-framing the film on the legible portions of John Doe's hand-written journal (while Somerset is turning pages) reveals one page identical to the preceding one.

* Revealing mistakes: When Somerset returns to the Gluttony crime scene, he uses his pocket-knife to cut the police tape which is securing the door. This tape is on the inside of the door, which is pointless (as it is supposed to be seen by people, to warn them away from the crime scene) and impossible, unless the police taped up the door and then climbed out of the windows.

* Revealing mistakes: When we first see the crime scene for lust, the man with the large leather strap-on device has a white sheet draped over him to cover the obviously disturbing contraption. Even though it was recently used to stab the female to death through intercourse and should be covered in blood, there are no soaked through blood stains on the sheet.

* Revealing mistakes: While it is raining on the car, the people on the street are not using umbrellas or other devices to shield themselves from rain.

* Revealing mistakes: At the "Sloth" murder scene, John Doe has amputated the victim's hand in order to leave fingerprints at other murder scenes. When the police examine the victim, tied to his bed, the handless, prosthetic left arm built from the scene is visible, as well as the actor's real (and intact) left arm, strapped to the side of his body.

* Revealing mistakes: As Mills and Somerset leave the Captain's office after submitting the report on their first job together, Somerset walks across the screen to leave the room. In the bottom-left side of the screen, the red marker tape he is standing on is clearly visible in the shot.

* Continuity: Mills gets out of a bed with only a quilted mattress cover. He puts on his shirt and tie and walks back to the bed which now has a sheet on it.

* Continuity: Detective Mills' tucked-in tie when he is looking at the portrait in the greed victim's office.

* Continuity: The amount of the name that is left on the door when the janitor is scraping it off.

* Continuity: The phone on Detective Mills' desk changes several times when he enters his new office.

* Continuity: The layout of John Doe's apartment conflicts with the hallway of the building. In the outside hallway, there is a window looking onto the building next door. Inside the apartment, there are rooms where the window would be.

* Continuity: On the drive back from the Gluttony victim, the car has two different kinds of windshield wiper: one that goes side to side, and one that goes up and down.

* Continuity: When Somerset is in the taxi on the way to the library, he is wearing a striped shirt under his overcoat. When he gets to the library and is chatting with the security guards he is wearing just a solid white shirt.

* Continuity: The level of the wine glasses when Somerset is over for dinner changes. When the camera is on the Mills, Mrs. Mills glass is higher than Somerset's glass. When the camera is on Somerset, the levels are both lower and equal.

* Continuity: The direction of the light varies between shots during the final scene.

* Continuity: When Somerset is in the library making copies, a plan of Dante Alighieri's Purgatory comes out of the copy machine, but the label at the bottom of the page identifies it as Dante's Inferno.

* Continuity: When Somerset is in the greed victim's office dusting the wall for prints behind the painting, he does so with his left hand. However, the close-up shot of the hand doing the dusting is clearly a right hand.

* Crew or equipment visible: At the end of the scene where both witnesses of the "Lust" crime scene are interrogated, there is a slow track from one interrogation room to the other. In the tracking shot, you can see the camera dolly reflection at the bottom of the two-way mirror.

* Incorrectly regarded as goofs: The movie is set in a fictitious city, so the nearby desert is not a geographical error.

* Incorrectly regarded as goofs: Just before the greed scene, several newspaper headlines state that Defense Attorney Eli Gould had been murdered. Hence, Mills and Somerset refer to him as "the biggest defense lawyer in town." (Casual viewers might have misread the headlines.)

* Incorrectly regarded as goofs: There are at least 3 copies of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy which Somerset places on the table. The red-bound copy which is the focus of an earlier shot is seen underneath a copy of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Beneath the red one is a larger printing of the book with a dust-jacket, and at the top of the other pile is a smaller, blue-covered version of the book.

* Factual errors: Somerset states in the film that there are "7 cardinal virtues, and 7 deadly sins". It is generally more accepted, and stated by Thomas Aquinas, that there are only 4 cardinal virtues, the other 3 virtues being theological.

WARNING: Here Be Spoilers

Goofs below here contain information that may give away important plot points. You may not want to read any further if you've not already seen this title.

* Incorrectly regarded as goofs: SPOILER: John Doe kills his victims because they have committed one of the seven deadly sins, but he tells Mills that they were innocent. He was being ironic.

* Continuity: SPOILER: On the way to finding the final two victims, the overhead shots show them to be driving in the desert, while shots from inside the car show grey and green flora outside the windows.

* Continuity: SPOILER: When Mills orders Jon Doe to the ground in the police station, on the stairs behind two police officers are visible. Then there is a cut to a shot from the stairs looking down, and no police officers can be seen. Cut again and they reappear.

* Continuity: SPOILER: In the scene taking place in the car heading out to find the final two victims, the grating in the vehicle changes. It is more curvy when the camera is on John Doe, while it is very straight when the camera is looking at Mills from John Doe's point of view. It also disappears occasionally, such as then the camera is on Somerset or when it is on Mills, but not from John Doe's point of view.

* Continuity: SPOILER: When Mills orders Jon Doe to the ground in the police station, Jon Doe is covered in blood but doesn't leave any blood on the floor, even though the police officer who handcuffs him gets blood on himself.

* Revealing mistakes: SPOILER: John Doe's package, delivered by "Crosstown Express", has UPS International shipping papers attached to it.



John Doe: I visited your home this morning after you'd left. I tried to play husband. I tried to taste the life of a simple man. It didn't work out, so I took a souvenir... her pretty head.

John Doe: What sick ridiculous puppets we are / and what gross little stage we dance on / What fun we have dancing and fucking / Not a care in the world / Not knowing that we are nothing / We are not what was intended.

John Doe: Wanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention.

John Doe: Become vengeance, David. Become wrath.


David Mills: I don't think you're quitting because you believe these things you say. I don't. I think you want to believe them, because you're quitting. And you want me to agree with you, and you want me to say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're right. It's all fucked up. It's a fucking mess. We should all go live in a fucking log cabin." But I won't. I don't agree with you. I do not. I can't.

David Mills: Fuckin' Dante... poetry-writing faggot! Piece of shit, motherfucker!

David Mills: C'mon, he's insane. Look. Right now he's probably dancing around in his grandma's panties, yeah, rubbing himself in peanut butter.

David Mills: You're no messiah. You're a movie of the week. You're a fucking t-shirt, at best.

David Mills: Who knows. So many freaks out there doin' their little evil deeds they don't wanna do... "The voices made me do it. My dog made me do it. Jodie Foster told me to do it."

David Mills: I've been trying to figure something in my head, and maybe you can help me out, yeah? When a person is insane, as you clearly are, do you know that you're insane? Maybe you're just sitting around, reading "Guns and Ammo", masturbating in your own feces, do you just stop and go, "Wow! It is amazing how fucking crazy I really am!"? Yeah. Do you guys do that?


John Doe: It's more comfortable for you to label me as insane.

David Mills: It's VERY comfortable.

William Somerset: [to Tracy] Anyone who spends a significant amount of time with me finds me disagreeable. Just ask your husband.
David Mills: Very true. Very, very true.

William Somerset: I just don't think I can continue to live in a place that embraces and nurtures apathy as if it was virtue.
David Mills: You're no different. You're no better.
William Somerset: I didn't say I was different or better. I'm not. Hell, I sympathize; I sympathize completely. Apathy is the solution. I mean, it's easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It's easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It's easier to beat a child than it is to raise it. Hell, love costs: it takes effort and work.

David Mills: Has he tried to speak or communicate in any way?
Dr. Beardsley: Even if his brain were not mush, which it is, he chewed off his own tongue long ago.
William Somerset: Uh... Doc, is there absolutely no chance that he might survive?
Dr. Beardsley: Detective, he'd die of shock right now if you were to shine a flashlight in his eyes. He's experienced about as much pain and suffering as anyone I've encountered, give or take... and he still has hell to look forward to. Good night.

William Somerset: This guy's methodical, exacting, and worst of all, patient.
David Mills: He's a nut-bag! Just because the fucker's got a library card doesn't make him Yoda!

[William Somerset looks at an object in the road]
David Mills: What do you got?
William Somerset: Dead dog.
John Doe: I didn't do that.

William Somerset: If John Doe's head splits open and a UFO should fly out, I want you to have expected it.

California: Somebody call somebody.

William Somerset: Did the kid see it?
Detective Taylor: What?
William Somerset: The kid
Detective Taylor: What the fuck sort of question is that? You know, we're all going to be really glad when we get rid of you, Somerset. It's always these questions with you. "Did the kid see it?" Who gives a fuck? He's dead, his wife killed him. Anything else has nothing to do with us.

David Mills: Now, I wasn't standing around guarding the taco-bell, alright? I worked homicide for five years.
William Somerset: Not here.
David Mills: I understand that.
William Somerset: Well, over the next seven days, Detective, you'll do me the favour of remembering that.

David Mills: I seem to remember us knocking on your door.
John Doe: Oh, that's right. And I seem to remember breaking your face.

Police Captain: [answering phone that interrupted his conversation] This is not even my desk!
[hangs up]

William Somerset: We'll just talk to him.
David Mills: Uh huh. Yeah. Excuse me, sir. Are you, by any chance, a serial killer? Okay.
William Somerset: You do the talking. Put that silver tongue of yours to work.
David Mills: Have you been talking to my wife?

[picks up the phone]
David Mills: Hello?
John Doe: I admire you. I don't know how you found me, but imagine my surprise. I respect you law enforcement agents more everyday.
David Mills: Well, I appreciate that... John. I tell you...
John Doe: No, no, you listen, all right? I'll be readjusting my schedule in light of today's little... setback. I just had to call and express my admiration. Sorry I had to hurt... one of you, but I really didn't have a choice, did I?
David Mills: Hmm.
John Doe: You will accept my apology, won't you? I feel like saying more, but I don't want to ruin the surprise.
[hangs up]

David Mills: [greeting his wife after coming home from work] Hey, loser.
Tracy Mills: Hi, idiot.

William Somerset: [after finding out that Detective Mills's apartment is close to the railway tracks] Just a soothing, relaxing, vibrating home huh?
[chuckles to himself]
William Somerset: [recovers] I'm sorry.
[laughs hysterically, Tracy joins in]


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