Comment on the techniques and devices used in a particular film trailer(s) and on their effectiveness

To comment on the effectiveness of techniques and devices used in a film trailer, it must first be established, what a film trailer actually is, and essentially, what it tries to achieve.

A film trailer is a device, which is used by the media, to advertise a new film that is to be released. It is released prior to the film; normally about 3-4 months beforehand. Most trailers are normally about 30-90 seconds, and in this time, clips from the film and the main storyline are provided.

A trailer normally tries to provide the viewer with information about the genre, directors, stars in the film, the age group which it is most suitable to and also the main storyline behind the film.

Teaser Trailers are normally well in advance of the main film, in order to create a “waiting game” for people to count down until they see the film. Viewers get very keyed up and excited about the upcoming film, and for this motive, premieres are common, where people can go and see the film in advance.

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Millions of pounds are normally paid by film companies, just to release film trailers; they are a very important part of publicity of the film. They are needed to actually notify the public of upcoming films, and make the nations anticipate the film, so they will be subliminally determined to go and see it. Trailers are like mind games, they hit a person firmly, and make them eager to see this film. It also tells people what genre the film will be, and for this reason, people can decide for themselves if they want to see this particular film.

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During this essay, I will be writing about the many different types of devices used in trailers and how effective they are. These devices include voice over, sound and action.

The trailer I will be looking at during this essay is Gladiator. I chose this trailer because it consists of many different genres, and it is a very easy trailer to analyze, because of the simplicity of the trailer. It has some very good points, and uses many different devices to attract people to come and see the film.

The film also leaves questions lingering in people’s minds, which people can only find answers for by actually seeing the film.

Analyzing the trailer

There are many devices and techniques used in Gladiator. In this section, I will outline these techniques and devices, and also aim to clarify what they try to accomplish.

The film name is an element that is of utmost importance; the actual name of the film is Gladiator. The title is shown right at the end of the trailer, and it emerges dramatically from a background of fire and flames. The type of writing is very professional, written in bold capitals, with a gold texture which seems to be 3-dimensional. The background is very simple; it is just plain black, however the simplicity of the background leaves the actual title standing out more. The simplicity helps create a level of believability which is needed for creating a historical aspect of the trailer. This is because, in the days of which the trailer is based on, things would have been simple, so no technical devices are shown, or special metallic writing either. Instead there is a times new roman font, with a gold texture; a color that was used a lot in roman times.

The actual title itself actually fades in from the flames, and lasts for a few seconds and fades back out to display the date of arrival.

Music is also a device that is used to a huge effect. Throughout the whole trailer, only one piece of music is used. This is a piece called Conan the Barbarian and this music suggests that film is about war and fighting. At first, when the logos emerge onto the scenes, there is the sound of beating drums, which is very dramatic for the audience being the first thing they hear. It suggests war, and this can generate excitement from the audience. A war-like beat is then heard throughout the trailer. It is a very dramatic beat, and seems to get louder and more dramatic towards the last 3 pictorial frames. However, it either stops or the volume turns lower during dialogue. The music can really set the scene and help identify the genre. It also actually builds up in a crescendo and then stops dramatically at the end.

Music can really help build climaxes too as well as suspense. In this film it tries to do this at the end and during fight scenes and also during dialogues.

The sounds in Gladiator are used to set the scene, and help create the realism arena in the trailer as well as the roman effects. This is achieved by sounds such as sword clangs, metallic sounds, and chants of Maximus when he is declared a hero.

In this particular trailer, voice over is not used. This can however be very useful in trailers, mainly to explain the nature of the film and also the main plot. In Gladiator however, dialogues of main characters, and also that of other characters are used to outline the main plot.

An advantage of the absence of voice over is that viewers see for themselves what the plot may be and also voice over can, in some cases; give too much away about the main plot of the story. With the absence of voice over, there may not be this risk and therefore questions will still occur in people’s minds. They will be urged then to see the film. There is also a big use of action to draw viewers in in such a way that they are enticed by the imagery rather than voiceover.

Dialogue is used in this trailer, mainly to fill in the absence of voice over. During the trailer, Maximus himself says some points. They include “my name is Gladiator”. This is said so that people will know that he is hiding something, and this actually brings up another question. We also find out that his His wife and son have been murdered, and so with passion he says “Father to a murdered son, Husband to a murdered wife, and I will have my vengeance”. From this the audience can assume that he has come for vengeance, and also the evil vs. good axis may have had this foundation.

Maximus also says a few words that show the audience that he is wise and noble. They are “What we do in life, echoes in eternity” he is shown to be a true hero, and from these words, we can tell that he is good himself saying these words.

He also uses words of passion when fighting with “At my signal , unleash hell”

Also some of the plot is outlined when the mystery woman in the trailer says “Today I saw a slave become more powerful than the emperor of Rome” This shows that Maximus is very great, and it shows what he will do.

Gladiator is a film of the historical epic genre; it is based on the Roman Empire that ruled the earth over 2000 years ago. There are a lot of action scenes shown in the trailer, so it would be right to assume it is a dramatic action film. There is also a sense of romance in the film, where Maximus is seen kissing a woman as well as that woman praising Maximus himself. It is seen that the trailer is based on epic from uniforms worn by Maximus and other men. Also swords are used rather than guns. The coliseum is also shown in the trailer as a big round building, and this makes the film instantly recognizable as historical epic. Dialogue used throughout the trailer such as slave and gladiator also suggest epical content.

There are therefore 3 main genres in the film, this means that it will draw a broader audience. Action will be entertaining in the masculine sense, where it often is appreciated more. The historical epic will get interest from people hoping to find out how accurate the film is. Romance will be more appreciated by the Feminine audience. The speech “Father to a murdered wife…..” is very effective in feminine terms, as it shows there is a touch of sensitivity in the film.

There seems to be a love interest between Maximus, and as evidenced by the frame of themn kissing, the Emperors daughter. This will help entice the female audience as well as the male.

Images and scenes shown are very important in the film. They portray exactly what happens and also help allure the audience towards watching the film. The costumes used in the trailer vary from soldier type uniform to slave. Usage of swords and weapons in the trailer is significant, and Images used in it help engage the audience and also set the scene. They can explain the story, and sometimes there is no need for dialogue. They help draw in the entire audience.

The use of colour is significant in the trailer. The trailer starts of dark with some dark clouds and battle scenes and slowly, in crescendo format, turns lighter and finally finishes in flames. It starts off bleak, but then fight scenes in the coliseum are bright and yellow, when finally there is fire. This represents excitement in the film. The colour contrast can concentrate the mind and help make the trailer dramatic.

Lettering and graphics are very simple in the film. The simplicity again as stated before, portrays the believability of the historical aspect of the film. Most, if not all of the written words are written in white simple font with a black backdrop. They only thing to be different is The title gladiator, which has a 3D gold hint in the lettering. Dreamworks itself is also in Roman style in bold and capitals as is everything else. This is effective in the simplistic way of portrayal of believability, as in the times of the Roman Empire, hi-tech lettering would not have been used, however simple font and text would have been all that the Roman’s could manage. These styles also help words stand out.

The focus on the key stars, directors and the creators of the film is extremely important too.

In Gladiator, the main character is Maximus, we find this out from the crowd only, who chant “Maximus” towards the end of the trailer. The director behind Gladiator is Ridley Scott, who has in the past directed many widely-anticipated films. Such films include Blade Runner (1982), Alien (1979) and Thelma & Louise (1991). Due to the fast that he is widely acknowledged to be a superior director, he is mentioned before Russell Crowe. Also, before his name is written “From Director”, which suggests he made the film mostly himself. For these reasons he is the Unique selling point.

Russell Crowe’s name is then mentioned on its own, with no extra text.

Russell Crowe was not a well-known actor, who had never had a successful leading role before this film. For this reason, he is not a unique selling point.

Both names are mentioned mid-way through the film, both in plain white writing with a black backdrop. The names are shown then they slowly zoom out into a scene.

The makers of the film are also mentioned, although they are shown at the start of the trailer. Their widely acknowledged logos are branded as the first things that viewers see of the trailer. The makers of the film are Universal and DreamWorks. DreamWorks come up first in plain writing on a grey background of clouds with flashing lightening. It then quickly fades into Universal. Universal is based on the same background; however, the writing is 3-D in Algerian style writing which surround a huge glowing globe.

The makers are widely acknowledged too, so this will be another motivation for fans to see the film.

There was one main slogan entry in the film trailer, and this was “The General, Who Became a slave. The slave, who became a gladiator. The Gladiator, who defied an empire”

The slogan can be released with the trailer, to help popularize it. They are used mainly to explain the plot, and in this case, the slogan is used directly for this purpose. The slogan used is not very complex, nor is it too long; it is simple, small, and perfect to help outline the general plot to the audience.

Throughout the written slogan, there are mini-shots of Russell walking. The different shots tie-in with the different parts of the slogan. For the General part, he is dressed as a general; for the slave part, he is a slave tied up; for the gladiator part, he is fighting in the coliseum. These shots actually portray each step of the way Maximus has to take. A picture says a thousand words, and for this matter, the clips show the conditions he lives in too. The clips help portray the slogan. The slogans emerge in white arial, simple style text, and have a black background. When one part emerges, it then fades into a scene.

A certificate is not mentioned in the trailer. So at the point of time the trailer is seen, it is not known how old the audience has to be. However, from all the scenes of blood and violence it is easy to assume that the target ages would be 15-30. The release date in this trailer is written as May 5 2000 A.D. This tells the audience exactly when the film will be in cinemas. As this is a later version of the trailer, it would say the exact date. However, in earlier editions it would have said “summer A.D.” or “coming soon”. The date in the version in review uses the word A.D. respectively. This is in the style of the historical epic of the film. A.D. is used, to write if the year is after the Birth of Christ or before. When we write about Romanian times, it is written as B.C.

The A.D. creates an atmosphere of historical epic because it is the way we describe events of the past, or the present. It was invented in Romanian times, so there is a greater sense.

Although it is not shown in the trailer, Gladiator achieved 6 Oscar awards. This tells people that actual critics recommend it and so do the Oscars. People will see that it has been reviewed as a good film, and so will think it is their worthwhile to go and see it. There is less chance of it being a overrated film and so people will know it be worth their while. As I have said, however, the trailer itself has nothing about awards in it.

There is only one point in the trailer where there is a difference in speed. The place where he is hailed as a hero has been slowed down. Also, there is, directly after this point, a scene where a chariot goes through the flames. This is also in slow motion. These slow motions let the audience realize important moments, and also can show who the hero is. This is what they do in this trailer. The chariot is used for a dramatic end to the pictorial side of the trailer.

The use of colour is significant in the trailer. The trailer starts of dark with some dark clouds and battle scenes and slowly, in crescendo format, turns lighter and finally finishes in flames. It starts off bleak, but then fight scenes in the coliseum are bright and yellow, when finally there is fire. This represents excitement in the film. The colour contrast can concentrate the mind and help make the trailer dramatic.

There seems to be a good versus evil axis in the trailer. Maximus seems to be the hero against who appears to be the emperor. It looks like they are enemies and that there might be a struggle over a woman. This can be seen from the scene where the “emperor” shouts at the woman if he is merciful. He gives the impression of being like an evil person whilst Maximus is hailed as a Hero in many scenes and is the main concentration of the film.

The good versus evil axis of the film can give it something of an ending with an evil person dying, and it can give the film a plot. Viewers can cheer for the good and jeer for the evil. This can engender a feel good factor into the trailer; the “goodie” wins the day

There is no cliffhanger or hook in this trailer. The trailer itself portrays the plot of the story completely and thoroughly. The suspense however dwells in main parts of the trailer such as when there are fight scenes. The film is portrayed fully, but in such a way that the storyline makes people want to go see the film because of questions that are raised by the trailer

Questions raised by the trailer are mainly the following. “Who will win, good or evil”, “Who will win the hand of the lady” and “What are the origins for the whole good vs evil axis” Also some questions arew raised by the slogan such as ” How did one man take on a whole empire”

There are also some other small questions such as “Will the hero live?”. These questions erect a thirst for answers, and so to answer them, they go to see the film. People start anticipating the film because of their craving for answers. Questions raised achieve mainly this.


Many devices are used in the trailer in question, and a lot of these are very effective.

For one, there is the wholesome action scenes used in the trailer. These are very effective in keeping the audience engaged. The music also ties in with the scenes of the trailer. The trailer suggests that the film is one of action and historical epic, and that there are dramatic war scenes in it. The music suggests all of this with drum beats and a war like tune. The music is very effective indeed; it ties in with the trailer completely.

Costumes, weapons, props and fighting scenes in the trailer help create a sense of the Roman Empire at the time of when the trailer is based. Maximus himself is also shown in different steps of his life, as a general, then as a slave and finally as a Gladiator. The scene is set very well, and there is a great sense of effectiveness for this aspect of the trailer. All of the scenes in the trailer come in the most appropriate time for them and any written words also tie in with the timing of the graphics. The director is mentioned half-way through the film, before Russell Crowe, and this is important because more people have heard of Ridley Scott, so he is many of these people’s Unique Selling Points.

Dreamworks and Universal are also mentioned at the start of the film trailer, so many people would actually have experienced and liked these maker’s films and therefore would happily go and see them, basing their judgment of choice solely on the makers. The positioning and timing of these clips make them very effective.

The dialogue used in the trailer is very effective, as it demonstrates the plot as well as telling you a bit about characters in the film. They are well chosen to give the most effective results, and they help show how wise Maximus is and they tell the audience that he is the Hero.

Speed and Editing is also used to portray Maximus as a hero with the crowd shouting his name. This clip is in slow motion, and viewers make out that Maximus is an impressionable and important Hero in the film. This makes this point very effective.

There are points in the trailer where there is written word. These are mainly identification of the director, the main star (Russell Crowe), the title of the film and the date of release as well as the credits. All of these, excepting the title, are written in white, simple yet elegant font with a black backdrop. Gladiator is written in sophisticated gold writing also on a Black backdrop. The simplicity helps create a level of believability which is needed for creating a historical aspect of the trailer. So in that respect, the marketing succeeds and the viewers are pleased. This is also very effective. When the release date is mentioned it names A.D. which creates another roman aura.

Use of colour is also very effective in this trailer, as it starts with dark, murky colours and gradually goes to lighter coulours and finally ends with flames. This helps set moods and the scenes and as more battles commence, maximus is growing more popular, and at the end he is the Hero, and the colours match this.

Sound effects are also effective in this trailer, sounds of swords, drums and metal creates a Romanian aura and give a thorough realism to the film, in this case.


Overall, there is a stroke of marketing genius in this trailer, as it portrays enough about the film, to get audiences interested with questions, but it does not offer too much information so that people can wait until they can buy it.

The trailer is very effective in getting the audiences attention and manages to attract a lot of the male audience and the female audience. All of the devices used in the trailer were effective in one way or another. However there was one device that should have been broadened. This is the device that links to the female audience – Romance. If there was more of it in the trailer and film, more of the female audience would have been drawn towards the film. But at the moment, it is not clear if there is much romance in the film, and so much female audience would not be drawn towards the film.

All other effects tied in excellently. Structure of the film was superb. There were many genres interrogated within the trailer, as well as a Good vs Evil axis. The storyline seems to be full of action, yet with a touch of romance and full to the brim with historical epic. The plot is excellent and the trailer portrays fully the plot of the story even with the unnoticed absence of Voice-over and a cliffhanger. It raises many questions in the viewers mind, and this make a wide ranged audience anticipate the main film.

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Comment on the techniques and devices used in a particular film trailer(s) and on their effectiveness. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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