From the good life to the thug life

The eight movie trailers I watched fell into five categories: science fiction, horror, drama, romantic comedy, and action. I am classifying one movie, (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)), as a weird hybrid of romance, comedy, drama and science fiction, so that movie will be my odd one out. As I discuss my findings from the trailers, I will refer to the categories of the movies.

The shortest trailer I watched was the science fiction trailer (Ender’s Game (Gavin Hood, 2013)), clocking in at 1:55, while the longest was one of the rom-coms (No Strings Attached, (Ivan Reitman, 2011)) at 2:33. Some of the trailers averaged around the 2:00 mark while others averaged between 2:20-2:30. As far as transitions, I noticed that the trailers that wanted to set a dramatic tone utilized either flashes to black/white or dissolving to black; these trailers were from the sci-fi, drama, horror, action and the hybrid categories. None of the rom-coms utilized transitions; instead, the shots just cut to the next shot. These dramatic trailers also used shorter shots and quicker pacing to create suspense and interest in the movie. I found interesting that one of the rom-com trailers I watched (When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989)) had very little editing as far as transitions, shot length and pacing go; the scenes shown in the trailer were completely unaltered from when they were shown in the movie. I would attribute this to the lack of digital editing available in 1989.

Similarly with the transitions and shots, the music in the trailer was used to create suspense and tension through build-up in volume or intensity. The same trailers who utilized the dissolving/flashing transitions utilized music build-up as well. I found pretty funny that the rom-coms have soft music playing in the background, but the music pauses when a comedic moment occurs. This pause in music acts almost like the recorded applause we discussed in the beginning of the semester; the music stops, putting an emphasis on the comedic moment while expecting the audience to laugh. Some trailers employed text narration, others employed vocal narration, while a few employed both. I didn’t really notice a pattern with narration and the category of the movie. The vocal narration was always provided by a radio-type voice, but then again, when is it not? Typography tended to be plain for the rom-coms and the hybrid, but was super flashy and stylized for the action and sci-fi movies. There was a lot of overlap with the audio and scenes in the sci-fi, horror and action movies; this can perhaps be attributed to the fast pacing of the trailers.

Two of the three recut trailers I watched actually created a custom voice over to tell the story of the movie. The best recut trailer I watched, turning Mrs. Doubtfire (Chris Columbus, 1993) into a horror movie, did very well to use just in-movie narration to tell the story of a father looking for revenge after losing custody of his kids. The only trailer recut trailer that I saw using type, and it was mostly supplemental anyways, was the Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994) “In the Hood” trailer. Made by AMC as a promotion for its Forrest Gump week, the trailer turns the movie into a gangster film. This trailer used type only four times because it employed a vocal narration as well. Naturally, I found this trailer recut to be by far the most amusing.

Trailers: Ender’s Game, The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann, 2013), The Conjuring (James Wan, 2013), When Harry Met Sally, The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012), No Strings Attached, The Proposal (Anne Fletcher, 2009), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Recut trailers: Mrs. Doubtfire (family comedy into horror), Forrest Gump (drama/romance into gangster film), Jaws (horror into family film)

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