The use of trailers to advertise films has developed into an art almost separate from that of making the film itself and in some cases, specialist directors are hired specifically for the trailers. Such attention is being paid towards the making of trailers due to its pivotal role in boosting the profits of the film, but factors such as cost considerations limit its content and duration. Thus, trailers must be concise and incorporate a variety of effective film techniques to provide a hyper-sensory viewing experience for the audience.
The intent is to entice them without revealing too much of the plot and to ultimately persuade them to view the film. The trailers for the popular films Casino Royale and Mission: Impossible II are comparable as they employ various similar and different techniques to attract their intended audiences. Casino Royale (2006) and Mission: Impossible II (2000) are films in the respective spy franchises James Bond and Mission: Impossible. Being spy films, they both encompass male secret agents being assigned dangerous tasks.
However in the trailer of Mission: Impossible II, sequences of action show little information about the actual complication, while in the trailer of Casino Royale, it is clear that secret agent James Bond’s ultimate goal is to defeat a terrorist financier in a high stakes game of poker. Spy films are popular in our society as they offer a combination of exciting escapism and technological thrills, with clearly delineated heroes for the audience to support. Trailers are shown in cinemas or on television but they are also widely viewed over the Internet, making it important for trailers to appeal to a wider audience.
The trailer of Casino Royale incorporates various elements that allows it to be directed towards different audiences. It includes fast paced action shots with impressive physical stunts and highlights the contrasting ‘good guy’, James Bond, battling the ‘bad guy’, Le Chiffre, appealing primarily to men and fans of the action genre. The trailer also establishes a romance between Bond and a woman attracting the attention of female viewers or young adults who can find interest in their relationships. In addition, the instantly recognisable theme music attracts pre-existing fans of James Bond.
Similarly, the trailer of Mission: Impossible II draws in a predominately male audience who are interested in the action and science fiction genres, as there are numerous cuts of high action fight scenes, car chases and explosions with high technology effects and gadgets used. Tom Cruise, a well-known actor, occupies all scenes and is the protagonist of the film, appealing to a large dedicated fan-based audience. The glimpses of romance between his character and the woman are further incorporated to entice the female viewers.
Moreover, like the Casino Royale trailer, the theme soundtrack of the franchise is played, attracting prior fans. With regards to the form of the trailers, the Casino Royale trailer is more detailed and structured than the trailer of Mission: Impossible II. The 2. 34-minute Casino Royale trailer takes on a more archetypal narrative structure, revealing to the audience the complication, antagonist and love interest. The trailer begins with a flashback, depicting to the audience how James Bond became a ‘00’ agent.
The general complication involving the antagonist and the poker game is then introduced through the dialogue of the main characters. The romantic relationship between Bond and the woman is established mid-way through the trailer, followed by past-paced action shots that transition rapidly in the last 30 seconds while the music and a series of heavy non-diegetic blasts crescendo dramatically, building suspense and creating a high-sensory impact, leaving the audience feeling excited and eager to view the film. Alternatively, the 2. 02-minute Mission: Impossible II trailer is simpler and provides less insight into the narrative of the film.
It begins by introducing the main character played by Tom Cruise, followed by several computerised clips that reveal his character’s name and location. Little regarding the plot is disclosed but the scenes that follow the first are mostly short fast-paced action shots that are indicative of the extreme danger surrounding the mission but do not disclose what it actually concerns. Nevertheless, these scenes help create an exhilarating experience for the audience and the lack of detail provided on the plot teases them, persuading them to view the film to see what it is about.
The use of a variety camera angles can have a significant impact on the mood and perception of the audience. In the Casino Royale trailer, the opening scene is filmed through a black and white filter. This makes the scene reminiscent of past motion picture technology and allows the audience to understand that it is a flashback. Many different camera angles are used, from low angle shots that help make Bond appear more superior and heroic to long shots for action scenes. This keeps the audience interested with the range of different perspectives.
In addition, to build up tension and suspense towards the continuous fast-paced action shots near the end, the dissolve effect is used between the scenes shown before them. Similarly, the Mission: Impossible II trailer makes use of numerous camera angles with a combination of panning, medium, long, low angle and close-up shots being used to add diversity. Effects are also applied to some action scenes which are in slow motion or freeze framed, thereby creating a dramatic impact with the increased intensity of the movements of the actors. Film trailers are dependent on the effective use of language in both audio and on-screen form.
The diegetic dialogue of the main characters plays a prominent role in the Casino Royale trailer as it is used to reveal the main aspects of the plot to the audience. In general, the emotive dialogue is in chronological order and is supported by scenes from the film which depict or relate to what is being said. This is a particularly effective technique as it enables the audience to discern the story while being emotionally stimulated by the scenes at the same time. Contrastingly, the Mission: Impossible II trailer uses character dialogue to reveal very little of the plot except to portray the high level of difficulty of the mission.
The setting is also established when he says, ‘Welcome to Australia, mate. ’ However, unlike the Casino Royale trailer, on-screen text is used in this trailer to emphasise certain details regarding the film to attract the audience. For example, after the opening scene where Cruise’ character is introduced, bold on-screen text appears reading ‘Tom Cruise’, reinforcing his star status and key role in the film. Furthermore, near the end, a caption that reads, ‘A John Woo Film’, flashes through the fire, thereby appealing those who are fans of his previous works.
Both trailers have been crafted to maximise the level of interest of the audience so they feel compelled to see the films. Upon reflection, the Casino Royale trailer is better crafted as enough of its plot is revealed through a wide range of film techniques to intrigue the audience. In the Mission: Impossible II trailer, very little of its narrative is disclosed and the sequences of action scenes is excessive, which may isolate some audiences who wish to know more about the plot before viewing the film or those who are not fans of the action genre.
Courtney from Study Moose
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