Super 35 - 2.35:1
Written by: Andrew Kevin Walker
Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey, R. Lee Emrey, Richard Roundtree, John McGinley
Gluttony · Greed · Sloth · Envy · Wrath · Pride · Lust - for most people, these are the seven deadly sins, but for psychopathic serial killer John Doe (Kevin Spacey), these are simply guidelines for choosing and murdering his victims. The film we are talking about is Se7en, an exquisitely creepy psychological thriller about the two homicide detectives, Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Mills (Brad Pitt), who are desperately trying to unravel the clues and discover who is behind these killings. Gwyneth Paltrow co-stars as Tracy, Mills' wife. To tell you anything else about the film would completely ruin it for you, so I'm not going to get into the details. Although I highly recommend Se7en and think its one of the best films of 1995, the film gets very shocking in places, so beware - those of you who are meek or weak of heart might not appreciate what's there. (Then again, you might - some of the very people I thought would hate this film actually really liked it...go figure). The film also has the coolest opening and closing credit sequences that I've seen in a very, very long time.
Se7en was released on DVD through New Line Home Video, and I know that the first question on everyone's mind is "how does the DVD compare with the Voyager/Criterion laserdisc edition?" To be honest, I can't say at this time, because I haven't seen the laserdisc edition yet; however, I plan on comparing the two in the near future, and my finding will appear here as an addendum (make sure to check back). What I do know is that the Criterion print was personally supervised by director David Fincher, and was apparently transferred using one of the few special CCE silver retention prints. For the unfamiliar, the CCE silver retention process literally rebonds the silver to the release print (it's normally removed during film processing), and when this type of print is shown theatrically, the white portions of the frame have a greatly-increased luminosity (they "glow"), and the blacks are darker, more dense. (Rumors have it that the upcoming Alien 4: Resurrection will be using the CCE process on release prints as well). The DVD transfer is taken from one of the regular prints (non-CCE), and has none of the extras that were present on the Criterion disc (deleted scenes, trailer, etc.).
As for the DVD transfer itself, Se7en appears in a letterboxed edition only, and is split over two sides of the disc. Filmed in Super 35 and shown theatrically at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the film has been letterboxed at about 2.21:1. Thanks to director David Fincher's demands from the cinematographer, Se7en isn't what I'd consider an easy film to transfer - the color scheme, the deep blacks, and the small level of stylistic-grain present in the original can all spell "trouble" for a transfer. Thankfully, that's not the case here, since whoever did the transfer did an outstanding job in ensuring that the original look of the film has come across beautifully and completely intact. The transfer is extraordinarily clean and sharp, and the colors accurate. Again, you will see some grain from time to time, but that was purposely present in the original film as well. Although the film runs 126m41, most of you are probably thinking that New Line could have placed the entire film on one side of the disc. You're right...they could have, but they didn't and I'm glad (yes, you read that correctly). Again, due to the complexity of the original cinematography, New Line opted to split Se7en over two sides in order to minimize the disc compression and thus providing the highest quality transfer they could. The disc change is by no means annoying and occurs at a natural break in the film (a slower-moving part where Tracy and Somerset are talking in a diner).
An English-language 6-channel Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and a 2-channel French Dolby Surround track, accompany the film. The English Dolby Digital track is as outstanding as the film transfer - it's crisp, it's strong, it's very effective. The French Dolby surround track isn't quite as strong, but is very good just the same, although the French-language generally has an "echo" quality to it (welcome to the world of dubbing). The only problem I found with the DVD is that the audio fades out and then back in again on side two from 00:20:22 - 00:20:23 - this only happens on the English track, not the French (although it may be present in the original film, something tells me that it's with the transfer). The English and French tracks can be switched through your audio button or through the menu options.
Se7en is also accompanied by English, French and Spanish subtitles, which all do a fine job. As with the audio, the three subtitle tracks can be switched around with your remote (the "subtitle" button) or through the menu. The DVD is also closed-caption encoded.
The DVD also includes an interactive menu that allows you to play the movie, select your language and subtitling options, jump to a scene, and view cast biographies and filmographies. The same menu appears on both disc sides, with the only difference being the "jump to a scene" option - you have a selection of four scenes (with images & description) you can jump to on side one, and five scenes on side two. Biographies and filmographies appear for Brad Pitt (3 frames), Morgan Freeman (10 pages), Gwyneth Paltrow (4 pages), Kevin Spacey (4 pages), Richard Roundtree (8 pages), John McGinley (5 pages) and director David Fincher (3 pages). Unfortunately,, no trailer appears on the DVD.
Se7en is encoded for Region 1 players only (U.S., U.S. Territories, Canada), and is packaged in New Line's usual plastic and cardboard "keep case." The inside flap contains a full listing of all 38 chapters. What I really like about this packaging is that each of the seven deadly sins in imprinted on the front, back and inside flap in such a way that you can only see them by turning the packaging so that light reflects off of the words - nice job.
Review by Jeff Krispow
Original Review: 05/07/97
Last Updated: 08/22/97