Over the years, cinema trailershave been used to amaze, confuse and bore audiences world-wide. But what is it about these one or two minute tasters of films that can make the film seem so appealing?
When your sitting in your movie theatre seat, drinking pepsi and chucking popcorn down your throat, how much do you really take in? Your favourite actor? The best special effects scene? No. More. Alot more. Movie publisists have clever tricks and mind games that have been developed over the years in the wierd and wonderful world of movie publicising.
For instance, the title of the movie flashing once at the end of the trailer, is a technique which would go completely un-noticed in the theatre. But, subconciously it hammers the movie title into your head to make-sure you remember it. Showing scenes with stunning visuals may seem to be just showing the film off, but, you will never be shown the outcome of a car chase or a fight. Never. This leaves a nagging thought at the back of your mind, willing desperately for more, almost addicted.
For this review I have viewed and analyzed four movie trailers. One is from the sixties, one from the seventies, one from the eighties and one from the nineties, (I do have a life, but I also have a job).
The sixties trailer I analyzed was ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. I tried to see past the picture quality and poor special effects (which I’m sure were spectacular at the time), and just focus purely on the content of the trailer. Quality and visuals aside, the first thing that struck me was the sheer length of the trailer. I felt as-if the entire movie was being summed-up and then thrown in my face before I could gasp for air.
It’s got all the usuals:director, film makers, characters, producer, but there are lots of things that you wouldnt see in a modern day trailer, for example, when the actors names appear on-screen, not only do you see a picture of the actors face, but you see a scene of thier greatest acting which really gives you a sense of who the characters are and what role they play. Also, the title of the film flashes-up on the screen and is spoken by the voice-over numerous times throughout the trailer; supposedly trying to make sure you remember the title, and therefore want to see the film.
The next film trailer I viewed was from 1975 and was advertising the film ‘jaws’. The trailer immedietely starts with a first person view of the shark swimming through the water towards its prey, (an unexpectant teenage girl) and a deep, slow, voice-over creates the sense that the shark is evil. He uses quotes such as: ‘It lives to kill’, ‘a mindless eating machine’ and ‘It’s as if god created the devil and gave him… Jaws.’ The shark is also put across as very big; The scenes and dialogue taken directly from the film give it a huge reputational size, for instance: ‘That must be a twenty footer… Twenty five’ and ‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat.’
My third trailer was advertising ‘Back to the future’, from 1985. This trailer was completely different from all the others; It didn’t actually show any footage from the film itself. Not only that, but there was no voice-over and it showed no storyline, location or characters. In fact, all that is seen is the leading actor and part of his car, (door, wheels and interior). This is done to leave a sense of mystery to the film and leave you wanting more. When the main character is asked by the car, ‘how far are you going?’ And he replies’ oh about, thirty years,’ this shows that the film is about time travel, but leaves lots to speculate about. Is he going into the past or the future? The name ‘Back to the future,’ gives references to both.
The last trailer I viewed was for, ‘South park, bigger, longer and uncut.’ This trailer followed all the classic ‘movie add rules’: certificate, director, creators, title, voice-over and the tag line (bigger, longer and uncut). There was very lively and upbeat music in the background and pretty much the entire trailer was a montage of images with jokes, some storyline and characters. The genre of the film could, because of this, be instantly recognised as a comedy.
So as a conclusion, I would say there are many differences between modern-day and old movie trailers, although the basic idea and tactics remain the same. Of course when you compare the lengths between the ages the differences are obvious. The old trailers in comparison are huge. Also, the old trailers show alot more of the story-line than the new-ones. The similairities between the two are vast though; They all use the same techniques and have pretty much the same informative content: certificate, direrctor, creatorspast productions by the same director, producer, actors, the list is endless. I guess it just goes to show, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.