The Final Scene looks at the last few minutes of some of the most well-known movies of the past fifty years. This week, it's David Fincher's psychological horror, 'Se7en'...
Aside from all the jokes, memes and parodies (even the one with Brad Pitt's brother) of 'Se7en', what's important to remember is how close it came to never happening. The story goes that Andrew Kevin Walker's script went through several drafts before New Line Cinema accepted it. An earlier draft included the infamous 'head-in-the-box' moment, but the studio ordered it be taken out for a more traditional ending.
David Fincher, who was recovering from the trauma of 'Alien 3', was sent the script by New Line Cinema. Yet, a fortuitous mistake meant that he was sent an earlier draft that included the ending we all saw. When he shared this script with Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, they all eagerly agreed and closed ranks on protecting the ending.
All three of them pledged that they would walk off the movie entirely if the ending wasn't shot as it was on the page. That level of solidarity doesn't just happen out of nowhere, and when you watch it, you can see why it was now so necessary to protect it.
Pieced together by performances, the scene plays out like a twisted version of the end duel from 'The Good, The Bad & The Ugly' - except that only one person has the gun, and it's Brad Pitt. Working through the five stages of grief in a few minutes - from denial right through to acceptance - Pitt echoes everything we've seen up to this point.
That this happened to Gwyneth Paltrow, described by Pitt in interviews as "the one ray of sunshine" in the movie, makes it all the harder. The small little blip of her face as he screams in anguish just drives it home. There can't be anything but this.
You could argue with the philosophy behind Morgan Freeman's character trying to win out over the inevitable. That by shooting him dead, the grand scheme by Kevin Spacey will have come to fruition. So often in movies, we expect our heroes to know better than us, and be better than us.
It's supposed to be the case where they make the tough call and the hard choice that nobody else can. 'Se7en' isn't like that, nor has it ever given any indication that throughout the movie up to this point. They're all human.
Nobody's perfect - not even the supposed heroes. Morgan Freeman's character blithely discusses earlier in the movie how he pushes people away, and "wore down" a woman who loved him. Brad Pitt's character is egotistical, doggedly driven by his work to the point that he ignores his wife and doesn't even know she's pregnant.
It's only when Pitt's character unloads his gun straight down the lens of the camera that it hits home - the wrath that he's visiting upon Kevin Spacey is being done to us. We're being shot at, because the world we live in, and we accept, was responsible for this.