Apprehending criminals: Genre and interpretation in seven

Pat Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The film Seven self-consciously explores two methods of discovering and analyzing clues and evidence. These methods work within the film to set up opposing worldviews and work outside the narrative to implicate viewers in the film's interpretive strategies. Seven relies on viewers to situate it in a generic category and plays with its generic status in ways that expand on and undercut viewer expectations. The play with interpretation touches on issues of moral apprehension, personal conviction, and social responsibility. This article examines the anguished pairing of these warring perspectives on a world defined by crime, self-interest, and moral indifference. Seven evinces a longing for a perhaps mythical past in which deep knowledge and thorough analysis of events were privileged over the pragmatic moral shorthand of contemporary modern culture. As it investigates the principal traits of the three protagonists-the spirited convictions of David Mills, the comprehensive despair of William Somerset, and the moral compunction of John Doe-Seven exposes their frightening kinship, demonstrating moral indignation to be a personal obligation and a psychological liability while playing out the ominous pun on criminal apprehension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-68
Number of pages22
JournalCultural Studies - Critical Methodologies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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