Directed in 1995, David Fincher’s Se7en is a film that defies easy categorization. Perhaps too dark to qualify as a golden classic despite having all the right ingredients, neither is it a cult film in the traditional sense, as it is stocked with A-list talent and propped up by a smart script, a memorable score and rich cinematography, and a production value in lockstep with Fincher’s vision for the film.
But few would question its merits as a cop drama, which as a genre trails right behind Westerns as films that Americans love to love but rarely support at the box office. Se7en beat those odds and enjoyed wide critical and popular success thanks in large part to a strong word of mouth around the film’s many hairpin turns, and one other thing: its title sequence.
It’s a sequence that has drawn comparisons to the grotesque photography of Joel-Peter Whitkin and the experimental self-aware filmmaking of Stan Brakhage, and its format has been likened to Stephen Frankfurt’s title design for Robert Mulligan’s 1963 adaptation of the courtroom thriller To Kill a Mockingbird, which also features close-up photography of personal items to describe the psyche of one of the film’s key players. But it is more likely a convergence of unique circumstances and artistic vision that gave the Se7en titles their own distinct cadence, blending Fincher’s treatment of the film itself with Kyle Cooper’s visual interpretation of its narrative.
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