Excitement, amusement and bewilderment are three things that can come from watching a trailer. They began as a mere marketing tool, designed to get the word out about new films and entice people in with flashy special effects and big actors’ names with “Academy Award-Winner” pasted over the top (Public Enemies, Above), but now trailers have turned a bit nasty.
It’s not that there’s anything particularly bad about them, but increasingly you find they mislead the viewer into making false assumptions. Take latest Dan Brown adaptation Angels and Demons for instance (here there be spoilers), in the trailer a chilling voiceover says “If god has issues, it won’t be with what we’ve done, it will be with what we’re about to do”
Nothing wrong with that you might say, and you’re right, it’s a decent quote to stick in a trailer as a dead body is chillingly uncovered on screen and conjures up questions for the viewer like: What are they going to do? Why? and Who are ‘they’?
Once you get to the film itself however, this subterfuge reveals itself. Rather than a mysterious heinous act, the quote in fact refers to the simple act of murder. Furthermore the quote has been manipulated so the ‘we’ that was heard in the trailer is actually ‘I’ in the final print, instantly taking away all the mystery and suspense since it’s obvious that a killer who’s already killed and has three prisoners is likely to do so again.
Another example is Minority Report, where another line change changes the meaning of what’s going on. In the trailer Colin Farrell‘s character Danny Withwer is in Pre-Crime HQ with Tom Cruise‘s John Anderton when he says “I’ve got a warrant in my pocket that says murder”.
On the surface this is a pretty good line and sounds pretty cool, but after watching the film you find it makes no sense and is just untrue.
It makes you wonder how far this will go, there’s been plenty of trailers or teaser trailers which have used scenes which were eventually deleted from the final cut (see Xmen 3‘s “We’re not kids anymore” discussion), but surely manipulating lines is a slippery slope and could become a dangerous game of deception.
Will we eventually find films changing as radically as this:
If you haven’t seen or heard of The Shining, then you could easily be fooled by something as simple as this, admittedly very well done, spoof.
We can only hope that film companies decide that we can, in fact, handle the truth.