Blog post by Ross Munro for Wholly Cinema.
Accused all my life of being “in the dark”, I can only assume confidently that people are referring to the amount of time I’ve logged sitting in darkened theatres, eyes blurred as the rush of cinematic flickerings wash over me.
Back in my formative years as an avid movie-going child back in Winnipeg in the early ‘70’s the total theatre experience involved a short doc (usually a riveting expose on such transformative topics as birch bark canoe building or honey bee farming), followed by a short cartoon (a personal fave was Deputy Dawg or that bottle-nursing Mighty Hero “Diaper Man”- sorry just wasn’t really a big “Rope Man”guy…).
Cartoon over, we then came to the promised land of what was usually a triumvirate of trailers (back then always referred to as Coming Attractions) heralding Hollywood’s latest offering of “must-see” flicks (I remember having the Bejeebers scared out of me as the trailer for “Blacula” or some new demonic possession movie called “The Exorcist” with a cherubic tot’s rotating , vomit-spewing head haunting my dreams forever…).
The trailers were sometimes the best part of the whole movie presentation and while sitting in the dark once again recently watching the new Ben Affleck flick where he plays an accountant with the hulking physique reminiscent of a middle-aged Bruce Wayne, I was painfully reminded how trailers can really be a lost art at times.
Understanding, of course, that the trailers are there to get potential audiences hot to trot for the latest Tinseltown product coming down the road, I was still bummed out watching the new Brad Pitt/Marian Cotillard trailer for their old-fashioned star-crossed lovers WW2 flick “Allied”.
I can tolerate a certain amount of “reveal” but there is definitely a limit- it’s probably worse in comedies where cynical Hollywood execs are convinced that audiences need to see the biggest laughs to get march them to the cinema like lemmings but in Robert Zemeckis’ “Allied” there is an unforgiveable spoiler that clicks in at the 1:10 mark that ruins what should be a major plot twist that probably takes sitting through half the movie to realize. Normally- much to the amusement of my wife- I close my eyes during any trailer of interest as I usually rightfully assume there will be a conspiracy of ruining major story points for me (“…what do you mean the Titanic hit an iceberg…? Damn it…”).
I decided in lament of “Allied”’s unforgiveably ruinous and cynical trailer (which you can view at your own peril- maybe close your eyes and ears at the 1:10 mark…don’t worry if anyone laughs at you…) I would also post in comparison another new trailer- this one for the new X-Men Wolverine spinoff “Logan” with Hugh Jackman. Why do I love this trailer? First, major points for the heartbreaking Johnny Cash version of Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt”. Second, check out the deliberate pacing of the beginning that soon morphs into an exciting montage that mirrors the abrupt pacing of the song’s tempo that creates as thrilling a series of edited images as you’ll find in a trailer and , yes, there is some reveal but it only serves to get you amped up to see the movie and still make you feel like you haven’t really seen any major reveals.
Also, just for fun (Wholly Cinema is nothing if not fun y’all!) I’ve included a small collection of what I consider to be classic trailers from “Zodiac”, “Seconds” and “The Shining” that are stunning examples of how to construct a trailer.
I may have missed a few of your favorites- feel free to suggest some of your own. Oh, and you can open your eyes now…!
Viva La Cinema!