Can You Escape the Rabbit Hole?

Trailers. You know them. You love them. You watch the crap out of them. If they’re good, that is. They give you an idea of how a movie, or even a television show, will be and how you should probably react to them if you don’t want to be some kind of social outcast. If it’s a comedy, you laugh; and if it’s driven by horror, you scream and cringe with fright. Unless you’re just a very strange person who laughs whenever someone gets their head taken off in a Saw movie. In which case, I find that interestingly funny in itself. But what if a trailer were recut to make it a different genre? What if, instead of Disney’s Mary Poppins, the wonderful tale of a practically-perfect-in-every-way magical British nanny, became Scary Mary, where she is now an evil nanny that people fear?

And so, in comes this assignment. Using Premiere Pro CS6, we were charged with the

A fan-made poster for a well-loved film. This trailer could change that….

task of recutting a film or television show to make the genre different from the original. This would be done through the use of clips used, transitions, lighting, music and, if needed, narration, whether it be done through a voiceover or a screen of words. I chose to change Hayao Miyazaki’s critically-acclaimed film, Spirited Away (2001), from a heartwarming story about a young girl trying to save her parents who have been turned into pigs into a thriller about her trying to escape the spirit world her family has become trapped inside in.

Important themes or characteristics to a thriller would be an escape (as I tried to portray this recut as), some kind of mission, or a mystery. There’s an emphasis on danger and the protagonist being under a lot of stress. This can be seen Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) and Vertigo (1958), Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs (1991), and David Fincher’s Se7en (1995). This is why the basic of idea of wanting to escape that is already seen in the original Spirited Away works so well in the context of a thriller rather than simply a family-friendly film. And as one way to bring greater signification to the clips used, much of the images I used were actually based on the music that was used in the recut trailer. While music may not be a strictly visual kind of symbol, the connotation of it implies what is beyond the basic purpose with a wider range of meanings, rather than just being the sound that is heard during the recut trailer (Danesi, 2004, p. 12).

One idea that I liked from the film that I was able to work into the recut trailer is the idea that, even though they weren’t immediately immersed and trapped within it, Chihiro’s family was able to interact wit the physical elements of the spirit world. What is seemingly part of the world of they exist in turns out to be part of another. It is the idea of the multiverse that is seen in the use of comics, in both the DC Comics and Marvel houses (Morrison, 2011, p. 4). There are many universes that exist within both houses parallel to each other along with what is the basic one, those being Earth-616 (the mainstream reality for Marvel comics) and the the newly rebooted realities of DC Comics. This is an idea that I wanted to convey and I hope that the world of Chihiro and the spirited can be seen as connected through different objects throughout the trailer, like the tunnel in the beginning, the buildings, and the food that her parents eat right before the shift in pacing during my recut trailer.

When deciding on how to end the trailer, I settled on the idea of having the father of Chihiro walking through the tunnel again. This was done for two reasons: 1) within the film, itself, Chihiro is led to the spirit world through the same tunnel, so she wants to be sure that they are actually getting out of it in the end–sorry for the spoiler, but if you haven’t seen Spirited Away by now, I’m a little concerned–and 2) done in the context of the recut trailer, I wanted to leave sense of uncertainty. The action done at the beginning and end of the film makes each of those scenes a kind of associative sequence: they are both connected through the objects of the tunnel and the wide open field (Dick, 2002, p. 14).

Frustrations that came with this project. There were certainly many, but not the “I’m going to firkin’ destroy this computer if it doesn’t give me what I want right now” kind of frustrations. They were a lot more basic and small. I think. They mostly revolved trying to find moments in the movie that could be taken as something that would be seen in a thriller. Things like explosions and screaming and, in the mythology that is Spirited Away, magic! That, though, was solved by going through the movie and finding moments that, out of context, could be seen as only scary and not necessarily a means to an end. There was also the issue of the music I used being louder than the clip I used from the film as a kind of narrating tool; it was much softer than the theme used. I fixed this by clicking on the arrow next to the “Audio” that the music was on and lowering the volume of that particular section after I made it separate with the razor tool. Also, I do think that, with another chance, I would keep much of my recut the same, but I would include some narrating screens that would help give a better idea of the direction I wanted to take Spirited Away in. The idea of a thriller and something that should be scarier than the original film can be seen in what I have produced, but I would want to add certain elements to the trailer to ensure that there more fully realized and explored.

Works Cited:

Marcel Danesi (2004). “What Is Semiotics,” excerpt from Messages, Signs, and Meanings: A Basic Textbook in Semiotics and Communication Theory. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.

Dernard Dick (2002) “Film, space, and image,” excerpt from Anatomy of Film. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Grant Morrison (2011). Supergods: What masked vigilantes, miraculous mutants, and a sun god from Smallville can teach us about being human. New York: Spiegel & Grau.

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