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|“||Become vengeance, David.... become Wrath.||„|
|~ John Doe encouraging Detective Mills to kill him.|
|“||Only in a world this shitty could you even try to say these were innocent people and keep a straight face. But that's the point. We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it's common, it's trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not anymore. I'm setting the example, and what I've done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed... forever.||„|
|~ John Doe|
John Doe is the main antagonist of the 1995 successful dark psychological mystery-thriller film Se7en. He is a serial killer bent on savagely punishing those who've committed the seven deadly sins and bring attention to evil in a world he claims is apathetic.
John Doe is a middle-aged psychopathic serial killer obsessed with the so-called "Seven Deadly Sins." He carefully targets his victims and apparently plans their deaths while cleverly stalking them and by secretly gathering as much of their personal information as possible without getting exposed or caught. He tortures them to death in symbolic murders representing in an attempt (at least in his own mind) to remind the world about the inevitability to avoid these deadly sins that ultimately will lead to their tragic demise either way. His insanity is based on fanaticism and obsession but did little to damage his knowledge; in fact, his madness may have added to it as he is portrayed as a twisted mastermind who is comfortable and very smitten in toying with the authorities. Doe particularly seems to highly enjoy playing mind games with the film's protagonists, Detective David Mills and Detective William Somerset, in a similar fashion to killers such as Jack the Ripper.
The first five of Doe's murders represent five of the Deadly Sins, and include:
- Gluttony: Forcing an obese man to feed himself to death. It is mentioned that a person cannot physically eat themselves to death in one sitting, so Doe eventually deals a heavy blow to the man's stomach, causing the lining to fatally burst, thus killing him. His decomposing body is found at a table face down in a bowl of pasta.
- Greed: Arranging a fatal bloodletting of a wealthy attorney. The victim dies of blood loss after he is forced to cut away a pound of flesh in payment for the greed he has shown and the lies he has told in his career as a lawyer. His body is found next to the word "GREED" written in blood on the carpet of his office.
- Sloth: Tying up a drug dealing child molester to a bed for one year, keeping him alive and hooked on drugs before eventually letting him slowly die from the side effects and brain shock. His malnourished and nearly rotting body is found in a convulsing Zombie-like state. The authorities attempt to save him but he dies on the way to the hospital. The word "SLOTH" is scrawled on his bedroom wall.
- Lust: Forcing a married trick at gun point to wear a bladed strap-on to simultaneously rape and kill a prostitute by butchering her internally. She is found chained to a bed, legs spread open and her internal organs mutilated. The word "LUST" is written on the door of the room in an apparent underground sex club.
- Pride: A beautiful, yet apparently vain and narcissistic supermodel has her face slashed multiple times by Doe. Her nose is also cut off to "spite her face", but she is given the option to call for help and live disfigured or commit suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills. She chooses to die rather than live without her former beauty. She is found dead in her upscale flat. The word "PRIDE" is written in her own blood on the wall above her bed.
Mills and Somerset eventually track Doe to his apartment, unaware that Doe is out at the time. Doe then comes down the corridor and sees the two detectives at his front door, prompting him to fire upon them. Mills chases Doe out of the building but Doe catches him off guard and aims a gun at the side of his head. Mills is unable to identify the killer as his face is shrouded in darkness, but Doe leaves him alive and disappears.
Later, when Mills and Somerset return to the police station, Doe appears to them (having got blood all over his arms and shirt) and intentionally gets himself arrested. The detectives are confused as to why Doe would hand himself in when he is two murders away from completing his "masterpiece", but Doe tells them that there are two more bodies hidden away. He then states that he will show them where the bodies are as long as Mills and Somerset are the only two to accompany him, otherwise he will plead insanity. The detectives agree and Doe directs them in their police car to the location of the bodies. Throughout the journey, Mills desperately and aggressively attempts to understand Doe's reasons for his actions, with Doe calmly stating that God told him to reveal to mankind what an awful and tragic place the world has become.
They arrive in a remote desert area in the middle of nowhere and a delivery van steadily approaches them, alarming Somerset. As he halts the van in its tracks, the driver claims that he was told to arrive at this location at this precise time to deliver a box. While Somerset looks at the box curiously, unsure whether he should open it or not, Doe tells Mills that he admires him. When Mills questions him on this, Doe reveals that he was jealous of his normal life (representing the sixth sin, Envy) and went to visit Mills' wife Tracy, attempting to "play husband" by raping her. Afterwards, Doe decapitated her, and Somerset is horrified to find that the box contains Tracy's severed head. Somerset then realizes that Doe is planning to have himself killed by the hands of Mills (in order to fully complete the seventh and final sin Wrath) to complete his work. Somerset rushes back to Mills in an attempt to prevent him from killing Doe, knowing that is what he wants, but Doe provokes Mills further by telling him that Tracy was pregnant, as she had been keeping it a secret from him. Doe then closes his eyes, awaiting the inevitable punishment for his crimes as Mills (unable to contain his fury of distress over the loss of his wife and potential child) shoots him in the head and then repeatedly to his death (despite Somerset's objections). Despite Doe's death, his plan still succeeds since his masterful manipulation had prompted Mills to complete the seventh sin. Mills later becomes nearly catatonic and is placed under arrest for the murder of Doe, much to Somerset's discomfort.
A series of comics, written by Mike Kalvoda, explore more of John Doe's life prior to the film. Doe had begun life as an ordinary God-fearing boy. As a child, Doe suffered from excruciating cluster headaches which were treated with a botched attempt at electroshock therapy. Doe's mother was a religious fanatic, obsessed with sin and eternal damnation. At one point during his school years, Doe began to develop carnal desires for a sexually-active girl in his class, which his mother condemned. His mother became infuriated upon finding Doe masturbating in the bathroom and severely beat him. Doe would later witness his mother making love to his equally God-fearing uncle.
As a teenager, he became besotted by a pleasant young girl in his religious-education class. At this stage in his life, Doe began the habit of writing journals describing his every thought and action. He wrote that his feelings toward this girl were pure and that she was nothing like the girl he lusted over years before. He offered to help the girl with her revision and invited her to his house. Upon entering his room, however, they encountered John's mother, now a violent alcoholic. She was reading John's journals and mockingly read them out to the girl. The girl ran away, with John's mother physically attacking him and telling him that no matter what he did, he would always be a sinner, and would inevitably go to Hell.
Aside from having a violent, abusive alcoholic mother, Doe's life was pretty basic yet he took all the negativity his mother directed at him impassively. He had probably been bottling up his anger his whole life, which might have been what caused him to go over the edge when he could no longer take any more. Later in life, Doe married, but found his wife cheating on him; John never had children because his wife was unable to, so he never touched her. After being cheated on by his wife, Doe started to become less unemotional about his rotten luck. He had a normal job until he had a disagreement with is boss about the handling of the company that John worked for and he was then fired. After witnessing a car crash, Doe began to question if God was really watching over humans.
John visited his mother at his childhood home and found her burning his belongings. She died in the flames, leaving John a key for a box containing the book of the Seven Deadly Sins. Experiencing an epiphany, John proceeded to shave off his fingertips, pull out his teeth, and castrate himself, thus renouncing his former identity. Since then, Doe dedicated himself to making a statement on the ugly side of humans by using the seven sins against people who had committed them.
|“||Nothing wrong with a man taking pleasure in his work. I won't deny my own personal desire; to turn each sin against the sinner.||„|
|~ John explaining his goal|
John Doe is fundamentally a pessimistic man with an fixation on how immoral and evil people are. He is very patient, methodical, and has excellent insight into other people's reactions and thoughts that is demonstrated in his uncanny planning and strategic abilities. John Doe possesses a massive amount of personal diaries, were he hairsplittingly records his own thoughts. Based on these notebooks and his murders, it becomes evident that John Doe enjoys seeing other people in emotional and physical pain. He is disgusted by each of the people he kills (including himself) and considers them worthy of dying and/or suffering, which he carries out passionately. He believes he was chosen by God to punish these people and believes his "work" to be a masterpiece that will be held in high esteem by other people. John Doe usually remains unemotional and calm, except to the occasional angry outburst and fanatical monologue. He is a Christian (most likely Catholic, based in his reading material, crucifixes, and adherence to Catholic moral doctrine i.e. capital vices) and is open about admitting his moral issues -- emphasizing his obsessive jealousy of Detective Mills. He admires Mills greatly because his thinks that Mills has a "normal life." It is said by the creators of Seven that John Doe has disturbing sexual fetishes, and the pictures in his notebook suggest that he is a sexual sadist.
- Val Kilmer was offered the role of John Doe but declined.
- R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe was once considered for the role of John Doe.
- R. Lee Ermey originally auditioned for the part of John Doe. After the part was given to Kevin Spacey, Ermey was offered, and took, the part of the police captain.
- Upon the film's release, Spacey received widespread global critical acclaim for his performance as Doe, with many commenting Doe is "a really ruthless menacing villainous psychopath." .
- Alongside receiving critical acclaim for the role, Spacey's character is considered one of the best villains of all time in cinema history.
- In the "Making of Seven", while Peter Sorel is discussing the details of John Doe's apartment, you can see a press photographer pass with the name "Ray Moore." It is possible this could be John Doe's real name or this is just a false name he used to get the pass. You can also see pictures of John Doe as a child and pictures of his mother.