Textual Analysis 1: ‘Se7en’ Opening Title Sequence

Below I will be writing a textual analysis on the opening sequence of the film ‘Se7en’ directed by David Fincher.

In the opening sequence for the film ‘Se7en’, the audience has a very clear understanding that is a thriller film. One aspect that makes this explicitly clear is the camera work. The sequence consists of many extreme close-ups, which avoids any identification of the antagonist in the sequence. This is common among thriller films as not revealing the face of the antagonist adds suspense to the film. The camera is also juddering in the shots and during the texts. This unstable camera work is a representation of the audiences cultural knowledge of psychopaths being mentally unstable.

Along with the camera work, the editing gives the audience a sense of psychotic behaviour. The burr and double exposure is used to run parallel along with the confused mind of a psychopath. The director, David Finch, and Cooper, the creative director, worked very hard on the editing of the opening scene to give the sequence a very raw feel to compliment the genre. They did this by combining older techniques of handling the film mixed with contemporary digital design. An example of this is that the actual film was scratched with a needle to degrade the the footage, giving a raw and textured feel. The scratches signify violence that takes place later on in the film. The editing is very quick and flashy which leaves the audience confused and disorientated. The quick flashes imitate death, as if life is flashing before a persons eyes. They also created the text by a hand written alphabet, which portrays a lack stability in the typography, linking to the unstable antagonist. The tempo is also very fast pace to build tension at the start of the movie.

The audio in the opening sequence has a very eiry non diegetic sound as if something is scratching on something. This makes the audience feel uneasy, and adds to the compliments of the genre. Also at the end of the sequence, the non diegetic music adds someone singing a line of speech “get closer to God”. This links to the antagonists motives in the film.

Through the mise-en-scene the audience can evidence that this is a thriller genre and can infer that the antagonist in the sequence is taking part in eiry illagal work. The props that are shown in the sequence are tools, proposing that the antagonist is working on something. We also see the antagonist remove his finger prints with one of his tools, suggesting that they do not won’t to leave a trace. The setting appears to be in either a workshop or basement type location. This holds connotations of a place where poeple perform projects that they don’t want others to see, or at least until they have finished. In the sequence, the audience is not given much infomation about the character it’s self, however, the audience can infer that this character is a psychopath, or at least unstable. This is due to the unusual work of this character, and they work that is being perfromed is only understood by them. The marking out of words and peoples faces suggests that the antagonist wants to hide something, which conotes ideas of a criminal. The criminality of this character is enforced by the removing of the finger prints, as this too conotes criminality. Low-key lighting is used throughout the sequence, and is common amoung thriller films as it gives a dark aspect to the film.


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