Here is how a trailer should look:
There’s no voice-over, there’s no dialogue, there’s not even a cast list. Just ninety seconds of film clips flashing before us in no apparent chronological order. The soundtrack, Karen O and Trent Reznor’s cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’, works perfectly with the recurring ascent to the manor gates. The film’s tagline and title buzz across the length of the screen- and then it’s all over. Even if you’re familiar with the Swedish trilogy (of both films and books), you’ve been given only a glimpse of David Fincher’s intentions. Its minimalist approach suggests rather than shows; making it perhaps closer to a teaser than a trailer. And although Columbia Pictures created a more traditional effort alongside this one, by following convention it became simply another face in the crowd. Gone were the goosebumps, the originality, the desire to watch it again and again.
The series of trailers used to be a highlight of a cinema visit. But now we have become overexposed to the same marketing ‘tricks’ and editing techniques; the five-minute slab of self-promotion running through every page of the rulebook. At best unappealing, at worst counter-productive, the trailer has long ceased to be an art form. Instead, rather like the advert before your favourite Youtube video, it’s now something to endure rather than enjoy.
Here are the ten biggest bugbears:
10. Fade to Black
Like most of the features on this list, it’s a device that was once effective; now overused and exhausted. Especially when accompanied with a fade-in thud or Inception-style foghorn every few seconds. Too imposing for a rom-com, the fade to black has become shorthand for solemnity, but also self-importance. Naturally, it has found a home in the concluding chapters of superhero films, historical adaptations and the prelude to great battle scenes.
While it gives weight to many a trailer, finality to each fade-in, not every film suits the style of an epic. Yet every confrontation in a shoot-‘em-up or sci-fi thriller seems to adopt such a foreboding fade to black. As a means of transition, it’s tolerable- but the ‘blinking’ effect, when deployed in rapid succession like the above example, is more likely to send an audience to sleep.
This article was first posted on January 2, 2013