Trailers wreck me

by Mr. Nobel

I’m not someone who cries during movies.

This isn’t macho bullshit posturing; I’ve just never been moved to tears by a movie. Some films have come close (the most recent ones being Never Let Me Go, the montage sequence in Up and the climax to Children of Men), but none have ever pushed me pass the boundaries of manhood and into the putrid waters of getting stuffed into lockers.

The same, however, could not be said of trailers – I am a massive pussy when it comes to trailers. I think, maybe, a successful and rapid flurry of images and music overwhelms my ability to cynically takedown a film and, instead, triggers the waterworks. In celebration of my unbecoming a man, here are some trailers which have helped. I don’t expect most people to have quite the same reaction, but, hey, who knows? If you’re a guy, maybe we can commiserate on our shared emasculation. If you’re a lady, here’s a tissue…can I get your number?

The cynical part of my brain kept jabbing on about how I didn’t like the musical and how Tom Hooper was a bit of a hack, but that hateful little portion got overwhelmed by the song and the assault of images. No, this trailer doesn’t raise my expectations of the film (I don’t like the musical’s bastardization of the novel to begin with and there’s very little indication of how Hooper’s decision to record the singing live works elsewhere), but it did make me cry. Just a little bit. On the inside. Not even really tears, really. Probably acid.

Also, I know it’s too soon to start talking about this, but I think we can all agree that Anne Hathaway’s getting an Oscar nod out of this. Her performance, from the tiny fragments in the teaser, looks suitably moving, and Fantine is pretty much the most tragic (and therefore memorable) character in the musical, aside (maybe) from Jean Valjean. The cinematography also looks top notch, from the opening magic hour vista to that sublime shot of Hugh Jackman receding into the shadows. Hooper still has this odd inclination to shoot with really wide lenses at weird angles, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to hurt the film’s aesthetic.

This is one of the few times title cards actually added something to a trailer. The fonts used, timed perfectly with the preceding/proceeding images and the music, add a lot to the overall tone of the piece. I’m a bit of a sucker for dialog-free, music driven trailers (as evidenced by this and Les Miserables’ teasers wrecking my shit up), and few trailers have as perfect a backing song as this one. Wake Up encapsulates so much of the movie’s themes and emotions that it’s a bit of a disappointment we didn’t get this as credit music or something in the actual movie. In many ways, Where the Wild Things Are didn’t live up to this trailer, but I’m thankful, nonetheless, that we got this astonishing work of marketing art.

War Horse’s second trailer is a prime example of the evil king Steven Spielberg using the dark mage powers of John Williams to repeatedly punch you in the gut until you cry, god damn it! The score layered on thick in this otherwise mostly silent trailer. Williams’ score is a little bit heavy at times, but it does a surprisingly adept job at powering through the trailer’s tonal shifts and mix of different settings.

The kicker is Benedict Cumberbatch’s closing lines: “Be brave, be brave, be brave.” That shit just gets to me. Every god damn time.

Honorable mentions:

Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Tree of Life both have magnificent, moving trailers. They just didn’t move me enough.

Blue Valentine got retroactively disbarred from this list after I watched the movie.

Children of Men chose a fitting and stirring enough song given the subject matter, but the editing of the trailer was too clumsy and awful for it to be seriously considered.