Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
Find out how here
Feature
Anatomy Of An Opening Sequence: David Fincher’s Seven
Title designer Kyle Cooper talks through the iconic credits

submit to reddit

The opening sequence of Seven (or Se7en, if you’re pedantic), David Fincher’s sophomore feature, gave the director a double challenge. In short order, he needed to put behind him the bitter legacy of Alien 3 (or Alien³, if you’re really pedantic) and subvert the expectations of audiences who might have been anticipating Brad Pitt in full-on heartthrob mode or the Morgan Freeman who drove Miss Daisy. And he needed to do it in a little over two minutes. So he turned to title designer Kyle Cooper, a virtuoso but as yet inexperienced movie credit designer, to forge a black-as-midnight sequence that set the pitch, plot and characterisation for the noir thriller. Cooper leapt at the chance to frontload the film with John Doe-dosed menace. “I was really into horror movies when I was a kid,” he remembers, “and I used to get frustrated when they’d hold back the monster to the very end. It occurred to me to get an idea of the killer before they finally catch him. We wanted to get the audience curious about what this guy is going to be. He has to be super, super evil.”

What Cooper conjured up was one of the great title sequences. A stylised mash-up of scratched frames and fuzzed-up, glitchy graphics set to a remix of Nine Inch Nail’s Closer, it was shot over two days, taking a further, painstaking five weeks to cut together. It was deemed by the New York Times to be “One of the most important design innovations of the 1990s,” and has proved almost as influential as the film itself. Cooper has since gone on to design iconic credit sequences for Zach Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead, all three Spider-Man movies and The Mummy among many others, but Seven remains a broody, brutal cut above all its peers. “I think it came from Fincher’s ability to meditate on dark things and the anger I had at that time,” he reflects when Empire catches up with him. “Now I think of it as a bit of a playful dance. We were making a mess and having a good time doing it…”.

WORDS PHIL DE SEMLYEN
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  1 of 8 Next

The Idea

“Fincher initially came to me with an idea about Morgan Freeman taking a train ride from this gritty, dark, rainy city to a house out in the country that he wanted to buy for his retirement. He needed a temporary title sequence for a studio test screening, so we made this slide show using some of John Doe’s scrap books. It was just stills, and we used a hand-drawn type to suggest that Doe did the writing himself. David gave me the Nine Inch Nails music [Closer from 1994’s The Downward Spiral] and I cut the slideshow to that – just a series of stills. When he showed it to the studios, they said to him that he should use it for the main titles, but as he always does – and still does to this day – he was unwilling to comprise on any level. After the slideshow he said to me, 'Pretend we’ve never met and come back and propose something else.' What I proposed was an extension of the slides, where I photographed all of the books and we made some of our own. Once he bought into that tabletop idea, he wanted Mark Romanek to direct it, because he liked Mark’s video for Nine Inch Nails’ Closer, which was all burnt film and rollouts. But I told him I wanted to do it and he agreed."

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
 
1 of 8
Next

Have Your Say
Register or login now to let us know what you think.

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Future Of Film: The Streaming Services Will Be Major Studios
(Or how Hollywood will have to start worrying about Netflix)

The Empire Podcast #129: Liam Neeson Interview
Plus Max Irons, Sam Claflin, Douglas Booth, Holliday Grainger and Jessica Brown Findlay drop by to talk The Riot Club

The Future Of Film: We'll Be Watching Films In Virtual Reality
Immerse cinema aims to become the must-have experience for the filmgoers of the future

The Future Of Film: Cinema Will Cross The Uncanny Valley
The future of VFX, from believable digital humans to underwater mocap

The Future Of Film: There Will Be Another Indie Golden Age
Independent producers are growing from micro-budgets to something a lot bigger

Empire's Epic Interstellar Subscribers' Cover
The countdown begins to Christopher Nolan's sci-fi masterpiece

Shut Up, World! Gary Busey Is Talking!
Strap yourselves in and meet a true Hollywood original.

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)