Seven is a complicated number, because its nature is internally torn. It brings good luck, but on the other hand – it’s also a number of years of misery after breaking a mirror and of the main sins in the Christian law. Last but not least – it can be neutral: we have seven days in a week. The world was created in six days and the seventh one was dedicated to the God’s rest. In the movie “Seven”, directed by David Fincher, the situation of creation is reversed. The creator becomes a destructor, who on the seventh day will celebrate his great victory. What’s important, his activity is not global, but he believes in the power of both – synecdoche and warning.
David Fincher creates story that is situated on the borderline of three words: crime, art, and religion. This triangle works in a very specific way. The murderer (great Kevin Spacey) claims to be the God’s messenger and self-made messiah. In the religion he finds both – a reason and a justification of his crimes. In the art he looks for visual and textual inspirations. Every crime is a story and creates a story. John Doe wants his crimes to be parts of both: salvation and canon of the world literature (he doesn’t write, but his acts can be understood us realistic continuations or reinterpretations of fiction). If he is an embodiment of God, he represents the Old Testament.
John kills people because of their sins. If you put together pictures from the scenes of his crimes, you will get an illustrated handbook about essence of each offence against the eternal rules. The character illustrates all of the sins with blood and dead bodies – this is his design and his version of the Holy Bible. On the very last day of his insane creation, he will be resting. Just like God. In the fourteenth century Dante gave to his readers a journey to hell. At the end of the twentieth century we have received a similar ticket from Fincher. In his movie, the vivisection of the Evil becomes a part of the reflection about the definition of goodness and its relative nature. The insane murderer is not only a madman, but also – an embodiment of the collective conscience.
In the context of the entire movie, relativism seems to be a key-world. The director negates not only obviousness of the differences between good and bad, but also between innocence and guilt, and – last but not least – between ethical and unethical ways of punishment. What’s more, he makes the audience doubt in John’s madness. We follow the winding paths of the psychopathic mind, and start to be unsure about his mental condition. He can be insane, but it’s also possible that there is a method in his madness, and that he leads the society that suffers of the unconscious lack of the empathy to the enlightenment.
“Seven” is a movie that comes from the darkest nooks and crannies of imagination. The story of John could be easily turned in a thoughtless mix of scenes of extreme cruelty and madness, but the director remains subtle and poetic. Of course, his visual poems belong to the hellish poetry, but it does them neither less beautiful nor less tragic. Fincher’s movie is a masterpiece, in which understatements are more meaningful than shocking, literal narration