What Is This Movie About?

Give or take 90-120 seconds is how long a studio has to sell us a movie. All the choices the director puts into the production, the star-studded cast, if it's a prized blockbuster bang or Oscar contender - it's a lot to fit into one advertisement. Many can be deceptive and don't fully rightfully display the mood or genre. Others are right on target.

Some audience members like me live for trailers; it's a fun preview of coming attractions to look forward to. Some despise them, because I can concur, they are now played a half hour long before new flicks at the movie theaters. Depending on how a movie is represented though, at the cinema or online, can ultimately determine what we spend our big bucks and time on going to see.

In Classic Hollywood, trailers were kitschy and unafraid to spectacularize the motion picture. They had a narrator or stylized text with underlined points of the stories or cast. Each genre had their own sense of style; musicals were uplifting, war flicks had a political overview, dramas were exceptionally mysterious. Most weren't above selling a political point, the films' theme or even the stars. When you paid a few cents to go to the cinema, you knew the experience you were in for. Above all, they made you feel excited and allured into the movie and Hollywoodlands' most prized stars.


Through the 70s to 90s out went the land of make-believe, Hollywood glamour and allure. The trailer inevitably changed with the growing economic highs and lows in Hollywood as society and film changed. In came the age of down playing the fantasy-like escapism.

A near robotic narration explained the story of the film. We welcomed more indie productions like Pulp Fiction and science-fiction thrillers on a seemingly low-end basis like Star Wars and Blade Runner, political Oscar contenders, and the occasional drama. When we look back on the trailers of this era, they are corny to the ears, the atmosphere had lost Hollywoodland's electric glow, but the story still pulled through.


In the past couple of years, especially in 2013, the movie trailer has grown to be a blend of pure images. Many are without narration or specific point of story-telling. In a day of quick conversations and image heavy sharing, the trailer has been condensed down to a collage of scenes; the one liner joke, the films most highest point of conflict, characters and actors going through a range of extreme motions without any specific background.

Only God Forgvies, an arthouse endeavor. Stuck In Love, the dramedy. Runner Runner, a drama. Star Trek: Into Darkness, a blockbuster. The Great Gatsby, the book adaptation.

One thing that still pulls through decade after decade is the genre differences. You can tell a rom-com from a raunchy parody film, a drama as a historical period piece or thriller. But are the visuals enough to enough to get me, to get you, to see a movie? I find it hard to remember when I was really taken away by a trailer and the quest it hinted towards. I know what peaks my curiosity; a compelling story and maybe a favorite actor or two. But definitely the story.

No doubt trailers have always been a compilation of scenes. The organization of them has just grown frail. More and more are summarized as you get what you see.

It's not technically necessary to be spoonfed the summary, but I think it's better when the story isn't fastly-paced showing image after image after image with a catchy song looping over any importance of the script. Up-play the movie stars. Feed me a creepy narration that will give me nightmares. Let there be a more memorable impression about the film. Because so often nowadays I have to ask, do you know what this is about? 

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