John Unchained

I’m not sure if any of my finding – which is already anecdotal to start with – is accurate. I didn’t realize that all of the movies I found were in the fantasy, sci-fi genre and were all somewhat critically-acclaimed (or will be!). The trailers for The Hobbit, Piranha 3D and the other fine examples of filmmaking were surprisingly similar. Now that I’ve managed to somehow work in the word critically-acclaimed and Piranha 3D into my introduction, I shall now explore the similarities and differences in the handful of trailers I watched.

I’m not sure if the sensibilities of people today have changed but it seems that every film, even the ones that aren’t action, have shots that last, at most, 3 seconds. The only shots that seem to last longer than that are establishing shots in the beginning – the wide, sweeping shots that create an atmosphere, establish the location or show an important object. The only movie that seemed to have a number of longer shots is the The Hobbit which is an epic adventure movie so the longer shot makes sense. It’s important to establish the vast, wide locations and the eccentric characters. The typography in most of the trailers was non-existent except for the purpose of advertising the date and credits. In general, just a black screen with white font (usually with liberal kerning) is shown though Django Unchained – a very large – and The Hobbit – small script like, almost something you’d see on a parchment – had it’s own typography.


A technique that’s prevalent in the trailers is timing the cuts from one shot to another with a beat in the soundtrack. It’s especially present for the more action-oriented films where the cuts are quick and the music has very quick, loud beats. In general, the music for the trailers were sort of generic trailer music – mostly rock music – with the exception of Django Unchained – western music -, The Hobbit – epic, orchestral music – and Indie Game: The Movie – melancholy, emotional music. Aside from the voices (which I’ll cover soon!), the music sets the atmosphere and tone more than anything else. The emotions that the trailers elicited really would be impossible without the music accompanying the visuals and sound. As for the voices, all of the trailers I viewed were cleverly written in a way that the narrator dude present in too many trailers doesn’t have a job here. The plot was all delivered by the characters in the movie. Usually, a character will be speaking while the shot they’re referring to or related to – but not the actual shot where they’re talking in – is shown. This is a far more effective method than an omniscient narrator because the viewer can hear the characters talk, which is important in the sense that we can relate to them and hear their emotions, while we see what they’re referring to.

One of the recut trailers I viewed, UP, were scenes from the movies with the audio of another movie imposed on top. The makers of the faux trailer cut the footage of UP to where the lips of the characters seem to actually be saying what the characters of the Gran Torino were saying. UP being an animated film makes it a lot easier to get the audio to line up with their lips. The Indie Game: The Movie parody was very liberal in its recutting. Some of the shots from the trailer were kept but there was original content placed in between. The makers of the recut purposefully chose specific parts of the film that when taken out-of-context could be made to sound horrible or action-y.

None of the three recut trailers I watched employed any use of the narration (outside of the characters themselves) and typography. Through clever manipulation of the film footage, the creators of the recut trailers managed to make the mash-ups seamless. The Ghostbusters only had dramatic moments of the movie while the very dramatic, ominous theme song of Inception played in the background.

I feel that I deserve some sort of extra credit now. Not because of the content of this assignment but because I’ve ended up watching about 20 trailers just because I couldn’t stop. That’s commitment right there.

Trailers: Piranha 3D, X-Men: First Class, District 9, Django Unchained,
The Hobbit, Looper, Los Cronocrimeros, Indie Game: The Movie.

Recut Trailers: UP (children’s film converted to dramatic movie), Ghostbusters (comedy movie converted to action movie), Indie Game: The Movie (documentary converted to action movie).

This entry was posted in Blog #4. Deconstructing Trailers and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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