Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Night Relaxer – Just a little tease

When I was younger – back in those dark, ignorant times before the internet – going to the movies meant making damn sure you got there early enough to see the previews. I still like to get to the cinema early enough (on those rare occasions that I actually go out to see a movie), but what is lacking is the sense of excitement that comes with the previews.

Back then you had next to no idea when a film was coming out, now you can find the release schedule for every film till 2012, and also the previews for every film. It’s still nice to see a good preview on the big screen – when I went to see The Social Network I was glad to see the preview for The Tourist – mostly because I had liked the preview on YouTube and wanted to see it on the big screen. But had it been fifteen or even ten years ago (when I had a dial up connection so slow it took about 3 hours to download one preview) I would have been excited to see something I hadn’t heard about. In fact I am still slightly disappointed when I see a preview in the cinema that I have seen on YouTube, even though I know I have seen EVERY preview on YouTube.

Previews have been around for years of course. But back in the day they lacked a fair bit of sophistication – sure they wanted to get you excited about seeing the film, but they hadn’t really got the selling down to an art form. Take the preview for Casablanca:

Casablanca Trailer

It’s nice, but the using words across the screen? That’ll never get the punters excited (also the Casablanca preview shows that giving away spoilers is not new.

My favourite previews (or trailers) are the teaser ones. These are the ones that come out well before the actual film is released.

They are a much more recent phenomena . Superman in the late 70s apparently had one, but I don’t recall it. They have really only came into their own in the last 15 or so years.  They are (as the name implies) there to tease the audience – and so generally they are shorter than a usual trailer which usually gives away a lot more about the film – and they often involve footage and music not seen in the movie.

Take for example the teaser trailer for Gladiator:

Gladiator teaser

Hang on, what was that I said about using word on the screen? The teaser brilliantly and quickly gets across the narrative of the film – and quickly and brilliantly informs the audience that this gladiator movie is not going to be some camp affair. It’s easy to forget that before Gladiator, there hadn’t really been a big Ancient Roman blockbuster since the late 50s, early 60s, so the job of the teaser was to get the audience past that issue, and get them looking forward to hearing and seeing more about the film, and of course wanting to see the film itself. And the music used? Not from Hans Zimmer’s excellent score does the music come, no it’s from Conan the Barbarian!

Another teaser that used another film’s music was that for Australia:

Australia teaser

The teaser, which almost achieves the impossible of making me feel like watching the movie again (no that ain’t going to happen), uses the stirring score from Kenneth Branaugh’s Henry V. So well done to Patrick Doyle for giving Baz Luhrmann’s teaser more passion than the film itself had. 

The first teaser trailer I really remember, mostly because I was at uni and going to see a few films and so I saw it quite often, was the teaser for Jurassic Park. Now again, at this point dinosaur films and the like were not exactly common. CGI was in its infancy and they didn’t want to give away the view of the dinosaurs until he actual film came out because that was what you wanted to pay to see. They also had the problem of trying to make it believable that dinosaurs could roam around in the 20th Century. If that idea was not believable, then the entire film would lose its vibrancy, and the producers would not have wanted to have the buzz around the film held back due to the science issue. And so the teaser effectively became a science lesson (movie science that is):

Jurassic Park teaser

The voice, the dialogue, all brilliant. The concept is now believable – in fact had people wondering if it would truly be possible – and Spielberg could get on with wowing us with the T-Rex in the actual film, and not need to slow us down with masses of footage of the amber mine etc (even though there was a bit of a info-movie in the film of it).

The teaser trailer concept though really caught fire in 1996 when Independence Day had a teaser so brilliant that it pretty well guaranteed the film was going to be huge. This was before every single disaster movie would be released showing a famous landmark in New York or Washington being destroyed. It was really the first to use CGI to do such things, and in the pre-September 11 worlds, people absolutely loved the idea of being able to see the White House getting blown up.

Independence Day 4 teaser

Pixar do teasers as good as anyone. They too will use footage that is purely for the teaser and won;t show up in the film. My favourite teaser of theirs is for The Incredibles. It pretty much tells you all you need to know:

The Incredibles teasers

My favourite Australian teaser was the one for Animal Kingdom. Sure it might contain a spoiler, but teasers can get away with spoilers to an extent because they come out so many months before the film that you don’t really remember them (if they’re done well – which was the case here). The use of the Air Supply music, the lack of dialogue, of all it just lets you know this was going to be a film experience worth waiting for:

Animal Kingdom teaser

This week came out another teaser for a film that I hadn’t heard about – Battle: Los Angeles. It is another alien film, and so you would expect lots of explosions, lots of bombast. Instead what you get is one of the most arresting teasers I’ve ever seen – and has me absolutely desperate to see this film – and I don’t care if it is apparently somewhat similar to “Skyline” . That’s what a brilliant trailer does, in 2 minutes I went from not knowing about this film, to going on-line and searching to find out how soon it would be till I could see it (24 March).

The key is the song – the absolutely haunting “The Sun’s Gone Dim and the Sky’s Turned Black” by Johann Johannsson.

Battle: Los Angeles teaser

I’ll leave you with the teaser for Forrest Gump – due to the rather odd story of the film they couldn’t just give a quick tease. I mean think about it, a below average IQ guy goes through the baby boomer generation of experiences: how do you get that across in a trailer? And so the trailer pretty much told the whole story. It was a wonderful trailer, but I much prefer this version, done with the use of The Simpsons.
Have a great weekend:

Simpsons Gump Trailer


Dong said...

Some great clips there Grog. Unfortunately (for movie witching that is), I spent a lot of time in Africa during the 90s. A long way from cinemas and so missed some great movies or saw them first on video with a 20 cm screen and crappy sound. Gladiator was one of them, Jurassic Park another. You know how weak dinosaurs look on a midget screen? I enjoyed the trailer for Vantage Point but was a little disappointed with the actual movie. Anyway thank you for this great collection of trailers.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of trailers using music from another movie, the Incredibles trailer (which I hadn't seen - thanks) uses the theme from On Her Majesty's Secret Service ... maybe the Propellerheads version?

Anonymous said...

So good! Teaser trailers are great. Why are the actual trailers so long now? They give away way too much and you feel like you've already seen the film and have no reason to go.

Monsters is another film that looks great. Can't wait to see it.