No Smiling Here…

Movie Poster for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: dir. David Fincher

My idea was to use The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for my recut trailer. The original movie is a a drama/mystery/crime movie, characterized by dark lighting and color schemes, serious faces, and some dramatic moments. The movie revolves around Rooney Mara’s character, Lisbeth, as she helps the main character, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), solve a murder. I found it strange that although the plot isn’t really about Lisbeth, the movie really focuses on her life.  However, the film’s focus on her life really worked to my advantage.

Initially, I worried about using The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as my source film, because the scenes portrayed the genre very well. There was not enough action to make an action recut trailer or enough laughter and bright lighting to make a comedic recut trailer. I would have liked to make my recut trailer portray the film as a romantic comedy, but there was absolutely no laughter in this film. There was a limited amount of  smiling, and even the “romantic” scenes were pretty tense. However, I wouldn’t say this is a genre film. The film did not follow a classical style: the plot is not fixed, characters are not defined, and the ending is not satisfyingly predictable (Sobchack 196). It took some effort to pick out shots that had romantic elements: smiling, tension, positive communication.

I definitely had to apply semiotics in order to portray this movie as a romance or feel-good movie. I ended up changing the order of the shots—moving the negative ending to the beginning—in order to connote the idea that Lisbeth was troubled and the film shows her becoming happy. Additionally, I cut certain shots in places to keep audio that would connote the romance between Lisbeth and Mikael. However, there were enough shots that denote Lisbeth and Mikael’s romance on their own.

I think I applied transitions properly. I recall using a straight cut to shorten a couple of scenes and maintain the narrative, one of which was successful but the other has a break in the narrative. However, I think it was unavoidable and necessary in order to keep the trailer short and still keep an important shot which comes after the omitted shot. I used dissolve cuts to indicate a change in sequence/narrative, and I used fade out transitions for the rest of the transitions.

I ended up taking many creative liberties with my trailer. Beside changing the genre, I also changed the narrative completely. I began by creating subclips with any shots that could be used to connote a romance. Many of the shots with actual romance in them could not be used because they were inappropriate, not happy, or were hard to tie together. I ended up making up a story for Lisbeth and putting subclips in my trailer that would narrate the story I came up with. I think it’s a pretty drastic change, and the music plays a big part in portraying the change.

On the subject of music, I actually had trouble with the background music competing with the original background music. The problems was that if I lowered the original sound too much, important information explained by the audio would be left out; I ended up raising the original audio, and lowering the new background music just enough for the original background music to blend into it a bit. The other problem I had was with the shot that breaks narrative, that I’ve already discussed. For future students, I recommend watching the Lynda training videos; they help. I used the videos to learn how to create titles and fade the background music in and out. Also, I recommend extending the length of subclips so the shots have extra film on either side; it allows for easier modification of transition length. That way you won’t get a “Not enough media” warning that messes up the transition.


Dick, B. (2002). Part two of “Film, space and image.”  Anatomy of a Film (pp. 82-86). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Edgar-Hunt, R., Marland, J., & Rawle, S. (2010). Chapter 1. “Semiotics.” The Language of Film (pp.12-37). Lausanne: AVA Academia.

Sobchack, T. (1975). Genre film: A classic experience. Literature Film Quarterly, 3(3), pp. 196- 204.

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