bbctol

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    The role of trailers in movie storytelling

    What is the role of a movie trailer? Is it simply to build excitement for a movie, increasing its revenue, or can it be used as a storytelling tactic? Some trailers can be seen as works of art in themselves (1979’s "Alien" is a particular favorite) while many modern trailers have been criticized for "giving too much away," or simply summarizing the plot ("Batman V. Superman" tried a few approaches.) Trailers on the internet can be seen by audiences more easily than ever before: how have they been used, and how should they be used, as a storytelling device?

    • I'd be interested to read about different trailers for the same movie -- sometimes one trailer paints a movie in a different light than another trailer, but both obviously can influence a person's interest in seeing the film or reasons for committing to watch it. – Cait 4 years ago
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    • The role of trailers are crucial in advertising and promoting movies. It gives us a sample of what is to come, and if we don't get enough, or we get too much, the movie could crash and burn before it actually comes out. Trailers are tricky! – Tony13 4 years ago
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    • Culture also plays a part in what a trailer is likely to show. trailers intended for Western audiences are likely to build excitement and tease the audience, trying to tell us as much as possible without telling us anything at all. The Chinese audience, however, prefer to know what they're going into, so trailers intended for them will give away a lot of the story of the film. – Jamie White 4 years ago
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    • Sounds like a good topics. Perhaps you could include a list of the best 5 trailers of all time. – Munjeera 4 years ago
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    • I'm convinced that trailer-making is an absolute art in itself, as fulfilling as the film sometimes. The key is to have some structure to the trailers released - for example Cameron's trailers for T2 first told us there were two Terminators, and then told us one was good and one was bad. With each trailer, the audience was drip fed a little more. Now, it seems like directors just cherry pick various cool moments and stick them randomly into each new trailer, often spliced with ones we've already seen. – J.P. Shiel 4 years ago
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    • Also analyze movies where the trailer is accused of deliberately misleading the audiences for example in ‘Drive’ and ‘The Rhythm Section’ and how that then has gone on to adversely/positively affect the movie’s theatre revenues. – Dr. Vishnu Unnithan 2 months ago
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    Latest Comments

    There is an interesting and under-analyzed difference between Tolkien and the mythology he drew from: his POV characters are largely separated from the Norse myths he drew from. The Shire is much more English and modern in tone than the rest of Middle-Earth: hobbits check their clocks and drink tea, rather than fighting dragons and winning treasure. Tolkien wasn’t just inventing new myths, but inventing myths from a distinctly different perspective, myths which incorporated characters that had our culture and values into an ancient Norse world. I’ve heard he was inspired not just by William Morris’s translations of Icelandic sagas, but the journal of the very English Morris traveling through the wild Icelandic landscape by pony. (Burns, M. J. ‘Echoes of William Morris’s Icelandic Journals in J. R. R. Tolkien’, in Chance (1991), pp. 367–73)

    The Origins of Middle-Earth: Gods, Poems, and Dragons

    I always interpreted THG as very deliberately playing up the way it put the reader in the villain’s shoes. The point of the books is that as much as you’re supposed to root against the Capitol, seeing the forced romantic tension and danger as tools of oppression, those are exactly the reasons why people are interested in the books! They make the readers complicit in the objectification of their subjects: if it’s a sign of cruelty to be entertained by children fighting to the death, well, everyone who watched the movies must acknowledge their cruelty.

    Whether or not this is a good thing is up for debate: taken most charitably, it’s Andy Warhol sticking it to society by mocking them and being celebrated for it, under a harsher lens, it’s Jeff Koons “ironically” making millions by fully embracing a capitalist system in the name of art. It may well be the case that THG should have “stuck it to the man” more, but I do think the choice to play the drama, glamour, and romance that oppress Katniss as entertainment was a deliberate and morally complex one. (It’s also entirely possible I’m reading too much into it, but isn’t that why we’re on this site?)

    The Hypocrisy of The Hunger Games

    With the focus on comic book adaptations, it’s worth examining how the structure of serial comics affects the way villains are constructed. Comic book villains are undeterred by setbacks in part because they have to return in future installments; Lex Luthor can never be truly beaten by Superman, because the readers want him to come back next year with an even cooler plan.

    Iconic heroes and villains in comic books both need to be unstoppable, or at least ridiculously persistent, because their story arcs are open-ended. The interesting thing is the way authors adjust the readers’ perception of their persistence: the hero’s story keeps going because he’s so noble and strong that he never gives up, while the villain keeps going because they’re a sociopath with no remorse or care for casualties.

    Superhero Villains and their Struggle with Morality