Over the course of the semester, I’ve delved into and explored the world of movie trailers. I confess, I love movies so this topic wasn’t exactly a difficult one for me to study, but it was interesting to look at something so familiar as movie trailers from the perspective of semiotics and studying their composition rather than just watching them for entertainment.
During these posts, I’ve written about the history of movie trailers, the subtle difference in each trailer released for the same movie, trends in the show business industry, the difference between screenshots and formats, and the progression trailers have taken from barely hinting at the plot of the movie to giving almost everything away. Even still, I feel as though there is so much more to be explored.
Here’s an example of the progression movie trailers have taken over the course of their existence. This first trailer is for The Sound of Music, which was released in 1965.
As you can see, a brief sketch outline of the plot is shown, but the rest is left under wraps, waiting to be revealed to the audience when they go to the theater. When compared to contemporary trailers, the above trailer gives almost nothing away about the plot of the movie. Here’s the trailer for Titanic, which was just re-released last week as a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of its sinking (I’m going to see it tonight so I’m pretty excited).
Even though history already recorded the basic story of the sinking, the romance between the two leads is revealed and we even get a glimpse of how long they are both able to remain on the ship. In comparison to the trailer for The Sound of Music, the trailer for Titanic gives most of the movie away.
My analyses of movie trailers has given me a greater understanding of the marketing angles employed when engineering the trailers, the many choices that are involved in cutting a trailer, and the evolution they have undergone in their short history. The last couple of weeks during class have been dedicated to studying photography and remixes, both of which are used in cutting trailers. Not only am I better able to appreciate all of the choices a director has to make during filming, but also in mashing everything together to present the best product possible to the audience.
I know these posts are barely delving into the vast and varied world of movie trailers, but I hope that my posts have imparted some knowledge about them that you didn’t know prior to reading them. And here is a song to sing you off to the next post (and I apologize for the graininess, but this was the only version I could find on YouTube)!