A look at film trailers that are dominated by music
Last month, the teaser trailer for Sofia Coppola’s new movie, The Bling Ring, popped up online. One thing that’s pretty common in Coppola’s marketing strategy: trailers that feature little dialogue. Mostly, it’s about a two minute montage of events from the film.
This time around, said strategy looks like its highlighting the fact that Emma Watson is one of the main characters and is most definitely dropping her prim and proper Hermione Granger act.
That, along with some quick shots of partying teens, set to Sleigh Bells’ “Crown to the Ground,” suggests a fun Hollywood romp. In reality, this movie is based on real life events, in which some teenage burglars ended up with prison time.
While there are a couple shots that suggest a darker undertone, the teaser mostly paints a picture of frothy fun, which got me thinking: What other recent trailers took a similar track in advertising (featuring music heavily) and how did the finished product stand up to a possibly deceptive montage/song choice?
I would argue that this movie is more famous for its trailer than the actual feature film. The set up is Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams on a sidewalk. Gosling is playing a ukulele cover of The Mills Brothers’ “You Always Hurt the Ones You Love,” and Williams dances to it.
The happy meet-cute-ish scene is intercut with scenes from the film. The dark lyrics, mixed with a montage that gets progressively darker, paints a picture of a movie that’s going to be pretty intense.
While the trailer does suggest a darkness underneath the happy, I’d say it definitely underplays just how dark things are going to get. We’re talking some seriously gut-wrenching hatred between the two leads.
I suppose it makes sense to not go for bottom of the well sad in this case, because what kind of movie-goer is going to be pulled in by suicide-level sadness? But, it definitely oversimplifies the film’s events.
The Social Network
A choir rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep?” Yep, that’s the music running through this trailer.
The song at first plays over various Facebook images, status updates, and relationship settings, then goes through the increasingly dramatic scenes, right up until Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) gets sued by multiple parties.
The whole thing is played with a humorous bent (I think so anyway, I mean, it’s a movie about Facebook, so it kind of has to). In particular, the status update montage at the beginning.
Playing that against the overdramatic music is comedic gold, and something I think works perfectly to promote the movie.
Everything in the film is played with a wink. Sure, moments get serious, but there’s always a bit of humor, too, which I think is a great mix. The trailer does an excellent job of illustrating that.
The teaser for this movie featured Ingrid Michaelson’s cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.” Accompanying it were various moments of Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones’ characters being in looooove.
You can look at it as earnest, or you can look at it as ironic. That choice will either lead to the conclusion that the movie is promoted exactly as it comes across on screen, or it can be a simplification of the film’s events.
Essentially, if you think this movie is a beautiful love story about a couple’s lengthy fight to stay together, then the teaser illustrates the point beautifully. Sure, it’s filled with heartbreak, but only because they can’t be together.
More cynical people like me would probably see this movie as a cautionary tail about needing to move on after the natural end of a relationship.
Since this is based on a real relationship that didn’t make it for the long haul, I’m inclined to say that this is the way the movie is meant to be taken.
Overall, I would personally say the trailer simplifies the relationship in the movie, making it appear far more positive than it actually comes off by the end credits.
This one is kind of a cheat, considering the extended trailer is so long that it required two songs.
The first is an instrumental track that didn’t really do much for me (it was pretty and all, but didn’t stir up any real feelings), while the second is “Outro” by M83.
It plays during what could be considered the “climax” of the trailer. In that sense, it creates a bombastic feeling to go with all the dramatic hover car chases, explosions, and possible cannibalism.
The movie itself doesn’t feel nearly as epic as the trailer would suggest. That would be fine if it felt even remotely character-based, but even that’s a failure because so much is going on, you barely spend ten minutes with each major character.
In the end, I think this is one instance where the trailer made for a better viewing experience than the movie itself. I know I felt a lot more during the trailer than at the theater.
I’d say that in the end, we’re split pretty even. Blue Valentine and Like Crazy’s trailers were oversimplifications of what you’d be in for if you saw the movie, and Cloud Atlas’ advertising was just a general failure, while The Social Network really captured what exactly you were getting yourself into.
But, can any of them really be considered a failure? A trailer’s job is to get people’s asses into seats, and all of these trailers did make me want to see the movie.
You be the judge. Do you think a trailer’s only job is to make people want to go to the movies, or do you think the essence of the movie’s themes need to be included, too?
Comment below and let me know what you think!