January 28, 2017

Retro-view: Se7en

I like to think that I watch a lot of movies. There are movies that get replayed frequently, and there are those that go years and years between viewings. These lesser watched films are not necessarily bad or not worth revisiting, it is just the way it goes sometimes. Even if it is a great movie, I do not always watch them as often. The result of this great time in between viewings means that when I do watch them it can feel like watching them for the first time. This was the case when I recently saw Se7en again. Sure, I remember some, but it is like rediscovering its greatness.

So, the other night I had the opportunity to sit in a theater and watch Se7en on the big screen. Not only that, it was a 35mm print, which also happened to be director David Fincher’s personal print. How cool is that? It is a silver retention print which results in a rather contrasty appearance, and believe me, it looked amazing. As the story goes, Fincher attended a screening of it and was unhappy with the look of the print that was used and has since insisted on screenings using his print.

I do not remember the last time I saw the movie, so watching it this particular night was a treat, getting to remember just how great it was. The film successfully strings you along, taking you deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding the killings leading up that climactic, nihilistic conclusion. Watching it this time allowed that ending to resonate more, the relationship between the characters to stand out more, and the sheer style to have greater impact.

No, this is not a review, just thoughts on the screening. At the outset, it was noted that this was an early entry in a series of murder mysteries, and one that helped to set the formula. It was described as the Friday the 13th to The Silence of the Lamb’s Halloween. An apt comparison. And to be honest, I would not be surprised if I find myself preferring Se7en over the Oscar winner.

Watching the movie, everything seemed so fresh and new, I recalled the finish and some of the broader details, but there was a lot I did not. The cinematography and camerawork was first rate, the movie simply looks amazing and seems to have had a lot of influence on crime films that have come since. There were a lot of moments that stood out, the initial confrontation with John Doe and resulting chase, Mills’ wife wanting to talk to Somerset, and the revelation of the junkie still being alive all stand out. However, I think it is watching the relationship between Mills and his wife that really makes the movie have the impact it has, and watching that gives the climax that much more of a punch.

This truly is a great film. No, not everyone will agree, but that’s all right. I am just thankful for the opportunity to revisit it in a theater and see that gorgeous print. The film holds up amazingly well and I think it would have been a hit had it been released today for the first time. No doubt that I recommend this film.

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