Tag Archives: Talking Trailers

Talking Trailers: Episode 1

Originally published at X-Media Online

Talking Trailers kicks off with rape, porn and cross dressing, but not necessarily in that order…


First up then is veteran Academy Award nominee Glenn Close in the role she was surely born to play. That’s right she’s a chap, not called Glenn, but Albert Nobbs.

This trailer is very traditional and the perfect start for this feature. It begins with a voiceover and ends with glowing quotes from reviews adorning the screen. It takes us through the film in a standard chronological manner, with accompanying highs and lows in tone. There’s a rather crude joke amongst some house maids setting a high, before melancholic music sets in to coincide with glimpses of the consequences of Alfred’s double life. Then there’s another funny moment, signalling the start of an uplifting climb to the trailer’s romantic climax.

Albert Nobbs may have a conventional trailer, with ingredients so commonplace we don’t notice them, but that’s no bad thing. This trailer plays to its film’s strengths, emphasising the impressive cast and touching story.


Whereas the Albert Nobbs trailer clearly sketches out a narrative, the trailer for Angelina Jolie’s first film as a writer/director, In the Land of Blood and Honey, is all about setting various moods. The opening switches back and forth between a frenetic battle scene and an intense close up of lovers. Comparisons are drawn between the passion and energy of war and love, as well as there being contrasts of violence and tenderness. The chunks of dialogue are less self explanatory than those used for Albert Nobbs, requiring the audience to infer and think more. Eventually controversial themes such as rape, imprisonment, trust and racism emerge. There are also a number of striking visuals of landscapes and action scenes, which are perhaps more prominent than usual to prove Jolie’s capable direction skills.


And finally the porn. Man of the moment Michael Fassbender stars alongside wanted woman Carey Mulligan in Steve McQueen’s Hunger follow up, Shame. Set in New York the film follows a man addicted to sex and therefore the trailer, predictably, features a lot of it. Written after extensive research by McQueen and creator of BBC series The Hour, Abi Morgan, Shame has garnered praise from all corners for its examination of modern lust gone wrong.

It’s the most experimental and exciting of these trailers, resembling a piece of art independent of the film it promotes but also saying a lot about it. Fassbender’s breathing whilst jogging playing in the background gives the entire trailer structure, rhythm and sexual charge. The jogging image also ties into the title and the idea of the protagonist running from the shame of his addiction.

Talking Trailers Introduction

Originally published at X-Media Online

Trailers used to be really bad. I mean painfully bad. They could reduce cinematic classics, such as Casablanca (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INBmVxAsdFE
), into muddled and ridiculous messes. They would go on for far too long, revealing far too much about a film. They were almost always garnished with
clichéd subtitles or voiceover.

As a result trailers weren’t very important. In the early days of cinema arty posters were the most creative aspect of a film’s promotion. However these days they are inescapable and the key tool in any movie’s marketing campaign. Entire companies are devoted to composing original music for trailers. A trailer’s success or failure can make or break a production’s box office success.

Some might miss going to watch a movie having never seen a single snippet of it; others may rant against the annoyance of a succession of trailers preceding the film they’ve paid to see. A persuasive argument can still be made, in some cases, that it’s a travesty to cut the best bits from a masterpiece and mash them together. It wouldn’t be acceptable to butcher Michelangelo’s David and parade the best body part around Italy to tempt customers to the main attraction in Florence.

But in my view those of you that still find trailers an unnecessary irritant are making a mistake. Rather than diminishing the cinematic experience, I believe they enhance it. They help generate anticipation. With modern editing techniques shoddy composition can largely be avoided. It’s possible to shape something that stands apart from the film itself and goes beyond advertising.

Mediocre action films can be made to look utterly engrossing. Mild, poor quality melodrama can become suffused with irresistibly powerful emotion. It’s still true, of course, that a poor trailer can fail to do a great film justice but that’s all part of the fun. Trailers require skill, originality and risk taking, like any form of art.  I never skip the trailers on a DVD or Blu-Ray because I admire the acknowledged soul that condensed the peaks and troughs of a two hour long film into 120 seconds of intelligible and affecting story.

In this new feature, with the suitably cliché title of “Talking Trailers”, I’ll be trying to share the enjoyment, excitement and excellence of new trailers for upcoming films. I’ll also, no doubt, be pointing out some turkeys. Hopefully I can convert some indifference into enthusiasm.