David Fincher: Films That Scar

David Fincher: Films That Scar

David Fincher: Films That Scar

David Fincher: Films That Scar


Film scholar Mark Browning offers the first detailed analysis of the work of David Fincher, director of the critically acclaimed films Se7en, Fight Club, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

• Includes a bibliography of cited texts


“I’ve always been interested in movies that scar. The thing I love about Jaws
is that I’ve never gone swimming in the ocean again.”

—David Fincher

David Fincher is arguably the leading filmmaker of his generation, with a body of work that includes Fight Club, Seven, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. His movies are distinctive and often disturbing, but to date, very little has been written about how they actually work. In terms of existing critical literature on Fincher, there are huge gaps. There are studies on single films, such as Richard Dyer’s Seven (1999), which approaches the film as an inquisition into the nature of sin and David Thomson’s The Alien Quartet (1998), which is chronological and reasonably thorough but frequently recounts the plot and virtually paraphrases dialogue. At times, Thomson becomes hugely self-indulgent, explaining over pages, especially in relation to Alien Resurrection, the film he would have liked to see, rather than dealing with the one we have.

As a starting point and a source of factual information, James Swallow’s book Dark Eye: The Films of David Fincher (2003), is useful. However, a general problem with it is that it does not really analyze the films it talks about—we have a great deal of direct quotation from Fincher and other key players (all without specific citation) but there is no criticism of these words; they are simply reported as fact. Review quotations are mostly generalized and from mainstream sources, and bald financial figures of opening weekends or annual grosses do not help us dig beneath the surface of the films. It is difficult to engage with a critical line of argument as . . .

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