Posted by: steveonfilm | September 5, 2012

That Part of Me is Dead

This is a scene from the movie Se7en that is just so perfect, I was really struck when I read it. I’ve seen the movie a bunch of times, but actually reading the scene as it was written in the spec put things in a different light. Really just some great stuff.

INT. SPORTS BAR — NIGHT

Somerset and Mills sit with a full pitcher of beer. The jukebox plays for the other customers. The walls of the bar are covered with trophies, plaques and other victory symbols.

SOMERSET
The irony is, after a day of the type of work he did, he’d come home and read me these morbid crime stories. Murders in the Rue Morgue. Le Fanu’s Green Tea. My mother would give him hell because he was keeping me up till all hours.

MILLS
Sounds like a father who wanted his son to follow in his footsteps.

SOMERSET
One birthday he gave me this brand new hardcover book, “The Century of the Detective,” by Jurgen Thorwald. It traced the history of deduction as a science, and it sealed my fate, because it was real, not fiction. And, that a drop of blood or a piece of hair could solve a crime… it was incredible to me.

Somerset drinks, then pours more beer.

SOMERSET
You know… there’s not going to be a happy ending to this. It’s not possible anymore.

MILLS
If we get him, I’ll be happy enough.

SOMERSET
No. Face it now. Stop thinking it’s good guys against bad guys.

MILLS
How can you say that? Especially after today?

SOMERSET
Don’t try to focus on things as black and white, because you’ll go blind. There’s no winning and losing here.

MILLS
You’re the oldest man I know, Somerset.

SOMERSET
You tell me, then… you walk into an apartment, and a man has beaten his wife to death, or the wife murdered the husband, and you have to wash the blood off their children. You put the killer in jail. Who won?

MILLS
You do your job…

SOMERSET
Where’s the victory?

MILLS
You follow the law and do the best you can. It’s all there.

SOMERSET
Just know that in this case there’s not going to be any satisfaction. If we caught John Doe and he were the devil himself, if it turned out he were actually Satan, then, that might live up to our expectations. No human being could do these things, right? But, this is not the devil. It’s just a man.

MILLS
Why don’t you shut the fuck up for a while? You bitch and complain… if I thought like you, I would have slit my wrist already.

Somerset sits back, looking at Mills.

MILLS
You think you’re preparing me for the hard times ahead? You think you’re toughening me up? Well, you’re not! You’re quitting, fine… but I’m staying.

SOMERSET
People don’t want a champion. They just want to keep playing the lottery and eating hamburgers.

MILLS
What the fuck is wrong with you? What burnt you out?

SOMERSET
It wasn’t one thing, if that’s what you mean. I just… I can’t live here anymore. I can’t live where stupidity is embraced and nurtured as if it were a virtue.

MILLS
Oh, you’re so much better than everyone, right? No one’s worthy of you.

SOMERSET
Wrong! I sympathize completely, because if you can’t win… then, if you don’t ignore everything and everyone around you, you… you become like John Doe. It’s easier to beat a child than it is to raise it, because it takes so much work to love. You just have to make sure you don’t stop to think about the abuse, and the damage, because you’ll risk being sad. Keep ignoring.

MILLS
You’re talking about people who are mentally ill. You’re…

SOMERSET
No I’m not! I’m talking about common, everyday life here. If you let yourself worry about one thing, you’ll worry about the next, and the next, and it never ends. In this place, ignorance isn’t just bliss, it’s a matter of survival.

MILLS
Listen to yourself. You say, “the problem with people is they don’t care, so I don’t care about people.” But, you’re already here. You’ve been here a long time. So, there’s a part of you that knows, even if everything you say is true, none of it matters.

SOMERSET
That part of me is dead.

Mills stands.

MILLS
You want me to agree with you: “Yeah, you’re right, Somerset. This is a fucked place. Let’s go live in a fucking log cabin.” Well, I don’t agree with you. You’re giving up, and it makes me sick, because you’re the best I’ve ever seen.

Mills throws some money on the table.

MILLS
Thanks for the beer.

Mills leaves, other patrons watching him.

Somerset takes out a cigarette and goes to light it. The lighter will not light, and when it does, Somerset’s hand is trembling.

Here’s how the scene ended up in the final cut of the movie:

Ultimately, I think the scene is stronger in the film than it is on the page, but what they left on the page gives us some more insight into the characters and their all important “world view.” This scene tells us more about these two characters than possibly any other scene in the movie/script.

Until next time, keep writing,
-Steve

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