There are certain film trailers that I find haunting. Somehow they manage to embody many of the themes and complex emotions of the films they’re advertising. Could that be an art in itself? Some examples of trailers that blow me away are Revolutionary Road, Where the Wild Things Are, Away We Go, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Milk, Funny People, and Paper Heart. Thoughts on these trailers? Favorite trailers of yours?
Yes, absolutely. Some trailers are beautiful short films. With the exception of Where the Wild Things Are, none of the films you mentioned had trailers that particularly stand out to me. But I feel like I’ve seen trailers over the years where I was just enthralled, not just with film but with the trailer itself. I particularly appreciate trailers that give little to nothing away and are almost curveballs to what the film is actually about.
So would I, Fredo. Trailers reveal entirely too much. I always point to “The Shining” as a positive example. One camera angle close to the floor, large doors at the end of the corridor looming. Then the boundless rushing of blood filling the frame, followed by the Title.
I think Kubrick was the God of trailers. If you want proof check out A Clockwork Orange’s trailer, or pretty much any of them. It annoys me when trailers give too much away. Take the recent trailer for Shutter Island for example. It got me excited for the film because it looks great, but I just wish they used a bit more creativity and didn’t just show the plot.
Alien is one of the best. Look it up.
Look at Godard’s trailer for Mouchette. That’s as much art as the vast majority.
It’s like producers and studios have no faith in their product. We are pounded over the head. Scorsese, Di Caprio, a well-chosen image or two, and get out. But like everything else, more is better.
A film that is Christian and sadistic.
Lol that’s excellent! Godard’s prankish sensibility assembling the trailer for Bresson, who is anything but prankish. Excellent.
Josh, I just bumped Mouchette from 51 on my queue to 9. So ya that is a great trailer.
One of the better films I’ve seen from Bresson. The whole detached feeling one gets from his style works much better here than it did in some of his other films, I felt, because the girls alienation becomes yours. Let me know what you think of it Drew (and good luck with it).
some trailers can be so perfect. so demanding. they can sum everything up, but not give anything away at the same time. the trailer for 13 TZAMETI is one of those. the amount of tension this trailer creates is uncanny. i definitely viewed this trailer a lot when i first came upon it. the actual film is brilliant as well. http://www.13themovie.com/
Josh, Berlin Alexanderplatz is before it so I won’t be seeing it for awhile, but when I do I will let you know.
I find it interesting that IFC just posted a Top 50 Greatest Trailers of All Time List:
I thought that Garden State’s trailer was actually better than the movie itself.
The Shining’s trailer will go down as one of the best trailers in history.
And a personal favorite of mine, Citizen Kane’s playful trailer is so full of youthful energy and vitality from Orson Welles, it’s hard not to love it. He’s clearly excited about his first motion picture; you can hear it in his narration in this behind-the-scenes look at the Mercury Theater Group.
The “Watchmen” trailers were brilliantly concieved, awe-inspiring pieces of film…
Kinda makes me wish the movie didn’t suck. :/
The trailer for “Schindler’s List” is also beautiful:
Yeah I almost said Watchmen. Completely agreed, amazing trailers horrible movie.
When I watch the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are it brings tears to my eyes.
Part of that is the hauntingly elegant song by Arcade Fire, part of it is the amazing assemblage of brief shots that I have no idea where they figure into the narrative but give me a glimpse of the wonder that was always the draw of that book for me.
It is about what it is like to be a boy. And I get that from the trailer, with almost no dialog spoken.
Brilliant. My soul wants to see that movie.
Thank you for that, Christine. What a great list. That Alien trailer is pretty remarkable – I can only imagine what people thought when they first saw that in 1979. I also really liked the Comedian trailer. I own the DVD and love the movie but had never seen that trailer.
And yes, The Shining trailer is damn near perfect.
Back in the 70s trailers were better. Trailers today are like watching the whole fckng movie
I wouldn’t know, I refuse to watch any before watching the actual films.
Sometimes after watching the actual film, I do watch the trailer and marvel at how badly they misrepresent the film. For example, Stranger Than Paradise was marked as a hilarious ball of a time with the TV Dinner dialogue and a certain old woman calling someone a son of a bitch, quotes about its hilarity and to top it all of, I Put a Spell on You that starts and stops for comedic timing.
Taken’s trailer is an example of a trailer that a) is a piece of art unto itself, b) entirely succeeded at getting people’s interest, c) was the whole point of the movie, and d) also happened to be the only good scene of the movie. “I will hunt you down and I will kill you.” The rest of the movie, really, ranged from disturbingly bad to boringly gratuitous. But that one shot is everything trailer and movie, and it just hits you in that nice fuzzy warm place inside.
I was surprised IFC didn’t include ACO’s trailer. It has always been my favorite, and they gave Kubrick a lot of love for others.
I’m going to have to say no… that’s like cutting the corner off of a painting and pretending it is still art. It is not the way the artist intended it to be.
I should probably shut up with the metaphors/similies.
I remember that I actually really was intrigued when I first saw the trailer for Funny Games (US)
lona. i see your point, but i disagree. filmmaking and painting, although great mediums of art, are also very different from each other. i feel as though trailers can be a great complement to films. it’s a great way to express the tone of a film. granted most big-budgeted movie trailers have that same formulaic feel, but there are a lot of films that have great teasers/trailers that help the overall “experience”. now i am not saying you need to see a film’s trailer in order to fully enjoy the film itself, i am just saying it can help. of course it all depends on what film and what the trailer looks like, etc. in the end, i wouldn’t compare a trailer to “…like cutting the corner off of a painting…”, it’s more likely equivalent to a lobby/post card invitation to a gallery opening or something. those cards usually feature one of the artist’s paintings or works of art. sometimes those cards are nicely designed and i hang them up at my desk or something. anyway i am rambling now, but i will finish with this. would you consider criterion covers (or any dvd covers) a work of art? in many ways they are doing the same thing trailers do. promoting. i think criterion covers in general are beautiful, and to me the packaging is part of the film experience. to name a few off the top of the head… videodrome, seven samurai, vampyr, royal tenenbaums.
That’s ridiculous. Commercial art is art in its own right, even if its commercial. Many directors create their own trailers, distilling their vision into an appetizer—choosing music, etc.
Hell, many times these days the way directors get financing for their ideas is they’ll film a trailer for their film and show it around. If someone’s interested, they’ll fund them to make the thing or buy it from them. You tell that guy that trailers aren’t art.
one could argue that if you purchase a movie ticket or buy a dvd you are buying a “product” and not just viewing a film. you can’t think that way. even films on this site cost $5.00 to view. if you have that mind frame, then you can destruct every piece of art that exist as some form of a product to buy into. yes, now i can agree when one is watching your favorite episode of ‘according to jim’ on a thursday night and a (insert any given movie coming out soon) trailer airs during a commercial break, then i can agree that it’s purpose is to sell that product. however, there are so many films out there where the director and/or producers take the time to cut together a trailer to showcase their upcoming project. so if you consider every trailer a “commercial tool”, then that’s like taking a thomas kincad poster that’s hanging on the wall of a doctor’s office and grouping it with an original degas painting and call them both equally works of art.
The begging question is, What is Art? That’s so hard to answer these days when Art is Money. Art is to me a movement of spirit, an ocean, a complaint of the state of human affairs, an appraisal of human perception, the rain falling on my cheek while I’m riding the mower, knowing those drops are my lover’s tears. Art is a piece of cardboard under my computer keyboard transformed into a desk protector, a piece of magazine inscribed with a phone number, chewed up and spit out against the ceiling or wall a thousand times, a whistle from nowhere, or as Emerson might have added: that which announces what no man foretold; which reminds me of swimming and Heidegger in Poetry, Language, Thought: "the sober resolution of that existential self-transcendence which exposes itself to the openness of beings as it is set into the work; and of Lyotard: “these ancient beings are completely different from humans in substance, colour, form – they rebelled, invaded the earth, were beaten back into the mirrors and condemned by the Yellow Emperor to the ‘task of repeating, as though in a kind of a dream, all the actions of men.’” Yes. I think a trailer can do all that, but I can’t think of one that does.
I almost never watch trailers before I see the film but I love watching them after. I think a great trailer is a little work of art in its own right. It’s interesting to watch them after seeing the film and compare the quality of the editing. I actually love the Pineapple Express trailer. It’s does a perfect job of marketing the film. You get the stoner stuff, the action stuff and then a little hint that it might have some interesting elements outside of the obvious. Even the now horribly overused M.I.A. song worked. I think it did a great job of reeling in the Apatow audience and the David Gordon Green audience. And it’s fun.