The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Seven, Se7en or Se-seven-en?

with 32 comments

So I finally caught up with Seven, David Fincher’s film from 1995. It was a about time, you could say.

My fellow members of the Filmspotting community couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it yet as I mentioned this in our chat room a while ago.

“Are you serious? What are you doing here! You should drop everything. Go and watch it. NOW! It’s an order!”

Since those people usually know their stuff, I followed their advice and picked it up at my library. And of course it turned out that they were right.

A serial murderer, staging the seven death sins in gruesome ways, an unwilling duo of a young, engaged cop and an old, cynical one, a city where crime and hopelessness has taken over. Darkness versus light. Evil versus good. It doesn’t exactly sound like a fresh concept.

But it was. It was fresh, enhanced and inspired, perfection adding an intensity that the tired copy cats never have. I was so much on the train that I even didn’t grumble about the stereotyping of male and female principles.

I can’t even remember last time I saw a thriller on par with this. Scene by scene, image by image, shot by shot. Perfection, what more can I say?  Maybe Seven was even a little bit too perfect, at least from a blogging perspective, because I find myself with very little to comment on.

So I’ll leave the film where it is (I suppose everyone else has watched it anyway) and just ponder a little bit about the title. The question is: what IS the title?

Graphic title?
The marketing people obviously have one idea. They made a fancy graphic title for it, an image where the letter “v” is replaced with a “7”, which looks like a v if you lean your head towards the side. But does this mean that we always should write the title that way?

I don’t think so and this almost got me into an argument with the people in the chat room, once we had agreed on that the film was great.

“Of course the movie’s title is what they say it is. If they say it’s “Se7en”, it is “Se7en! What are you talking about?”.

Well, I wasn’t convinced, and I’ll try to explain here why. You see: marketing departments in companies often come up with their own ideas of how to write their name. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily should obey them, giving up on the accepted standards for writing.

For instance they always try to make you write their labels in capital letters. They have this idea that this will bring them extra attention. But while I can’t speak for the rest of the world, at least in Sweden, journalists aren’t willing to follow the wishes of the PR department. They follow writing guidelines, which say that as long as a name is possible to pronounce, you write it with small letters (apart from the initial letter.) Their aim is to make the text easy to read. Not to help out with the marketing.

Unwilling Swedes
In the case of Seven, the changed letter in the middle doesn’t add anything but confusion. And actually the movie was launched under the name “Seven” in Sweden, which makes me less motivated to call it anything else.

And this brings me to a theory, namely that Swedes probably are more unwilling than others to play along with this kind of marketing gimmicks. We had an example of this some years ago when a petrol station franchise was renamed to “Q8”. This name was referring to the country where the oil came from, and apparently someone assumed that the Swedes were so influenced by the American culture that we’d pronounce it “Kuweit”.

We didn’t. We called it – and still call it, many years later – the letter Q followed by the Swedish word for eight, “åtta”. It sounds approximately like “coo-awe-ta”. I think very few even understood that the name was an association. To us it was just a random letter followed by a number. It could have been any number. E9, P12, W5, whatever.

On a second thought I suppose I could give in and accept the title “Se7en”. But only if I can  pronounce it accordingly: “Se-seven-en”.  It sounds a little strange for a dark thriller, almost merry. Like a brand of soda, with the same triumphant, smattering word rhythm as the smurf favorite sarsaparilla.

And this has turned into a pretty silly post about a small and silly issue.  I’m sorry about that. I reckon I was just in a silly mood.

What matters is that Seven is an awesome movie, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Regardless of how you spell it.

Seven (David Fincher, US, 1995) My rating: 5/5

Written by Jessica

January 3, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Seven

32 Responses

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  1. I really liked Seven when I first saw it, but I’m not sure that it holds up as well on a second watch, really, and that’s a shame. However, Fincher’s films – to me – are all about entertainment, and he gets it spot on here. One of my favourite films of his, no doubt (and I am not much of a Fincher fan, minus Fight Club – which I love – and possibly The Social Network).


    January 3, 2012 at 1:24 am

    • Forgot to mention good write-up, too!


      January 3, 2012 at 1:27 am

      • Thanks!

        I liked The Social Network very much but it won’t stick to my memory the way that this one will. I figure it might have to do with that I had read the book that The Social Network is based on pretty shortly before so it didn’t feel as new and fresh as it maybe did to others.

        I watched The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo the other night and that wasn’t all that special. Nothing compared to Seven.

        Fight Club is one that has been strongly rcommended to me. I’ll see if I can get hold of it.


        January 3, 2012 at 11:39 am

  2. As someone who watched this in the theater and has then seen it multiple times, I’d say it does hold up pretty well. It’s my favorite Morgan Freeman movie, too.


    January 3, 2012 at 2:15 am

    • He’s fantastic in it. Brad Pitt is also really fine. I wouldn’t mind watching it a couple of more times.


      January 3, 2012 at 11:35 am

      • Really? I love the movie, don’t get me wrong. But, I saw it once and that’s really all I needed to see of it. Maybe my memory is just too good, but it was disturbing enough that I had no huge desire to see the movie again even after all these years.

        Brian 'Psychochild' Green

        January 7, 2012 at 8:25 am

  3. It is spelled “Seven” in the shooting script without any 7 or nothin’ fancy. That settles that for me.

    I liked the movie well enough, but it wasn’t anything special for me. Lots of nice pieces with a rather boring script idea I’ve seen a million times before (it seems). Still, I could tell there was a lot of talent on and behind the camera.

    The title of Haruki Murakami’s book “1Q84” has given me no end of trouble while trying to talk about it here in the states. It seems the letter ‘Q’ and the number 9 are pronounced the same in Japanese so the title works there. Really weird to try and pronounce here, however.


    January 3, 2012 at 3:02 am

    • I didn’t understand the title of Murakami’s book at all. It sounded like another petrol station. That explains it.

      I guess since thrillers isn’t my favorite genre, I haven’t watched too many. To me Seven felt very original. Or at least original in the execution. Just so good.


      January 3, 2012 at 11:34 am

      • Yeah, for me it was just script problems. If I don’t like the script I’m not gonna like the movie.

        For a much better take on serial killers from David Fincher, I’ld recommend the movie “Zodiac”.

        And I’ll go along with most of the FIncher crowd in saying that “Fight Club” is his best movie. In my mind it is no doubt because it had the best source material.


        January 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm

  4. Good on you for finally settling down and I am happy that it struck home. I actually caught it in a movie theatre when it premiered and it was like nothing I had ever seen before. And for me, it has held up for severeal revisits. One genious element that I can’t recollect seeing in any previous movie is the concious blurring of timeperiod, we can never be sure in what era Seven takes place. It feels like a lot of later movies have copied this.


    January 3, 2012 at 8:36 am

    • It must have been wonderful in a theatre. Hm… I wonder if I could convince my film club to show it? I think it’s true about the timelessness in it. I really didn’t feel that it had aged at all.


      January 3, 2012 at 11:32 am

  5. Ha! I too pronounce the title “Sesevenen” in my head whenever I see it spelled with a number in it. I try to avoid spelling things in marketing ways, though I’m sure I’ve slipped up here and there in the past. The point is: Se7en is a stupid title. Numbers among letters is always silly. I remember when the working title for Final Destination 5 was 5nal Destination, which still ranks among the dumbest film titles I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

    Glad you liked the film. I think it’s brilliant as well in all regards, to the point where whenever I heard the word “thriller”, Seven is the film that immediately comes to mind. Freeman is great, it’s beautifully shot in all its ugliness, and there’s amazing atmosphere throughout.


    January 3, 2012 at 11:06 am

    • Hehe! I knew that if anyone would support me on the title stance it would be a fellow Swede!


      January 3, 2012 at 11:31 am

  6. HAHAH Very funny Jessica.

    I really must get around to watching this again, it has been WAYYYY too long!

    Happy New Year my old mate!

    Scott Lawlor

    January 3, 2012 at 11:08 am

    • Happy New Year to you too Scott! I would happily rewatch this one again in a few years.


      January 3, 2012 at 11:30 am

  7. Everyone needs to see Se-seven-en at least once in their lives. Nice write-up Jess, with some awesome local context!

    Rodney Twelftree

    January 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    • I wouldn’t mind seeing it a second time. It’s a classic, really.
      Thanks for your kind words!


      January 3, 2012 at 1:47 pm

  8. I actually had no idea what so ever about the real meaning of Q8. I’ve always pronoucned it as Q followed by eight. But, If I’m not mistaking, so does the company itself. At least since the “OK/Q8”-collaboration began. .


    January 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    • They do? I think they gave up eventually then. It was not their original intention.


      January 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      • I had to do some research about this world-changing discovery, at least in my life. Found an old Swedish ad where it’s pronounced “the Swedish way”.

        Look here:


        January 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm

        • Cool finding! According to my memory they tried to make us pronounce it otherwise at the very first launch, before this commercial was made.


          January 3, 2012 at 2:54 pm

  9. One of my favourite films ever. I love it. And I spell it ‘Se7en’ haha.

    Andrew Buckle

    January 4, 2012 at 12:17 am

  10. In recent times with nrg for energy, and all the other butchering of english in marketing circles, I hate this stuff – although for Se7en I never really noticed it until you pointed it out; perhaps because it was one of the first and I was not irritated by it at the time.
    I’ll say this though: having the word seven written then the number abruptly in the middle creates something uncomfortable, and that suits the movie well.


    January 4, 2012 at 2:36 am

    • As a word image it works, but once you say it aloud – Se-seven-en – it rather detracts a bit of the darkness and discomfort from the movie.

      And “nrg”? *Shivers*


      January 4, 2012 at 9:08 am

  11. I didn’t sleep very well after I saw Se7en for the first time. The ending totally messed me up. Not that I’ll complain that it took you this long to see it, but it is one of Fincher’s best if not the best.


    January 4, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    • Can’t talk about the ending here, can we, even if I assume there I was the last person on Earth to watch it… But yeah. I know what you mean Max.


      January 4, 2012 at 10:16 pm

  12. […] was it necessary? Don’t read me wrong. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not a bad movie. After watching Seven a little while ago, I’m a big admirer of David […]

  13. This is an all-time favourite of mine. The best thing about it is its disturbing, grungy look and isolated cinematography. I love the juxtaposition of the peacefulness of the scenes where Freeman is studying in the library, compared to the chaos that is going on on the nighttime streets outside. Haunting.


    January 9, 2012 at 3:26 am

    • Very well put, Tyler! I also love the timelessness in it. Thanks to this, it didn’t feel as if it had aged at all.


      January 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm

  14. I also find that putting the number 7 in the middle of the title is kind of stupid. A bit too cutesy artsy-fartsy for me. It’s like the TV show “Numb3rs”. I go around pronouncing it “Numb Three R’s” much to the chagrin of those around me. 🙂

    Brian of Nazareth

    July 24, 2012 at 7:05 am

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