…and the quest to see everything

Somerset Hitting the Books

Before I show my answer, I wanna show my back-ups.

ph. New Line

The most elegant/scary opening credits.

Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) reacts to stuff.

ph. NewLine

Four reasons why Mills is a terrible person are shown/implied in this shot.

I suppose this is the right space to write about my complaints about this movie, on how Mills, a guy who’s worked homicide for five years is still a moralizing optimist. Or that the murders wherever Mills is from can’t be as bad as the one’s he’s about to see in L.A. I also have problems with John Doe (Kevin Spacey) hating fat people but hating skinny people too. I don’t know about California law but around here if a the defence admits to his counsel of being guilty, the fight is over. I’m also sure that the whore he killed has used condoms while she’s on duty.

Thankfully, my latest viewing of this movie is one when the dominant force is Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman), patient, pensive yet jaded. My answer after the cut.

Director David Fincher‘s always known for his low-light sfumato effect in his films. The same goes for Se7en, where even the ‘white’ shots are wedged in contrast with sharp black. There are, however, instances within Se7en when big dots of colour appear, like here, colour shown behind a car window, made translucent by the rain, looking like a Van Gogh.

The neon signs of the city can advertise anything, including, sadistically, this

But my best shots and two that I can expand upon are these.

Green study lamps, aesthetically pleasing. What a way to visualize enlightenment ignored in a dark, seedy, crass city. Bright objects always get to me.

The library guards are on good terms with Somerset, leaving the books all to himself. He chooses a table, sets the briefcase down, looking at all the books that the guards are ignoring. He eventually addresses this disconnect ‘All the knowledge in the world at your fingertips.’ The guards see his bet and tops it by playing Bach on the boom box, making this trip to the library a relaxing time.

It’s been established that Somerset wants to give up his badge. However, it’s stuff like pulling all-nighters that make others, like the guards in this library, think that he’s eternally linked to this job. He absorbs the information on a handful of books neither with young earnestness nor a yawn. No coffee breaks. The film also establishes this scene as if this might be his last trip to this library, and wants to sit down and take his time with the books.

A guard say ‘Hey Smiley, you’re gonna miss us.’ He responds ‘I just might.’ Interesting nickname.

Also notice the lamps in the second shot are pointing different direction, the mise-en-scene arranged in meticulous disarray.

This post is part of Nathaniel R’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot Series.

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