The Velvet Café

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Seven, Se7en or Se-seven-en?

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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