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SE7EN: DVD (Special Edition)

Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is a jaded New York cop only a week away from retirement. His last task before he moves to the country is to show enthusiastic young David Mills (Brad Pitt) the ropes. The simple handover becomes a frenzied manhunt as the two detectives find themselves on the trail of a vicious serial killer, “John Doe” (Kevin Spacey) who chooses his victims according to the seven deadly sins, devising a fitting but gruesome end for each trespasser. As Somerset and Mills close in, Doe patiently awaits the final confrontation, and the chance to complete his morbid masterpiece.

Many DVD releases brag that they are special editions. This one actually deserves the tag. Indeed, it’s one of the finest DVD releases around. Director David Fincher has revisited his breakthrough film with the same commitment to excellence that made Se7en such a great movie in the first place. When shooting, Fincher paid an incredible amount of attention to his choice of film stock and processing techniques to achieve the rich, dark images he desired. For the DVD he has had the picture remastered to reproduce the same quality on your TV. The soundtrack has also been remixed specifically for home cinema systems. Three different stereo mixes are offered and Fincher not only supervised the remastering sessions, he even had the engineers improve on the original soundtrack, adding sounds he hadn’t had time to include and fixing elements he had been unhappy with.

Where most DVDs are happy with one audio commentary, Se7en has no less than four. Each is excellent. In the first, Fincher, Pitt and Freeman discuss their star turns. Pitt is especially good value, brutally honest about the ego-driven shortcomings in his performance—one that is nonetheless widely regarded as his best. The remaining three commentaries are led by a film professor from Britain’s Warwick University, who calls on the screenwriter, editor, director of photography, production designer, sound designer, composer, head of production and Fincher (who swears like a wharfie) to alternately examine Se7en’s story, photography and soundtrack. Se7en grows richer with each viewing, a claustrophobic portrait of a degenerate city shot through heavy rain—New York City as a sodden Gomorrah.

The second disc in the set contains a wealth of special features. The trendsetting titles sequence, with its jittery type and Nine Inch Nails soundtrack, is dissected in detail with commentary from the director. A separate feature looks at the creation of the books of blood that the sequence shows John Doe compiling, written evidence of his crazed mind. Even the staples of DVD releases shine. The obligatory deleted scene is actually the original opening of the movie, in which Somerset goes house hunting in the country, getting ready for his retirement. It’s a revealing character study which adds greatly to the film and can be watched with or without commentary. The stills gallery contains more than just glossy headshots of the leading men. Hundreds of pictures are presented, including the mock crime scene photos that are examined in the film by Somerset and Mills and John Doe’s amateur snaps, which the detectives find in a darkroom at his apartment. The photographers who were behind the camera provide commentary, explaining their working techniques in detail. Production design illustrations are afforded similar treatment—indeed there’s so much material it will take you weeks to work through it. A worthy addition to any collection, we can only hope that Se7en’s superbly high production values rub off on other DVD releases.
Stuart Whitmore

Published September 13, 2001

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You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia

SE7EN (Deluxe Special Edition)
(R 18+)

CAST: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow

DIRECTOR: David Fincher

RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: August 8, 2001

Widescreen feature presentation; 4 commentary tracks; Exploration of the title sequence; Deleted scenes and extended takes; Cast and crew filmographies; Production designs; Alternate endings; Still photographs; Promotional materials; The notebooks; Audio: English stereo 2.0, 5.1 and 6.1; Subtitles: English

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