Analysis of the “Gladiator” trailer
Trailers are a very important part of the advertisement and promotion of a feature film. Trailers usually consist of a collection of carefully chosen clips from the film that give the audience a vague idea of what the film is about and hopefully persuade the audience to go and see it. Trailers usually contain certain information about the film and the plot. One of the main points that you would expect the trailer to show the audience is the genre of the film. The genre of a film is the category that it fits into or the type of film that it is.
The trailer usually makes the audience aware of the genre by the settings of the film or costumes, actors and the music used in the film. By showing the genre of the film, the trailer often also makes the audience aware of the target audience or group of people that the film is aimed at.
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Trailers often focus on the films main selling points and things that are unique about the film (USPs). This could be many different things. It is often the director, actors in the film or a particular aspect of the plot that makes the film unique and catches the audience’s attention.
Overall, a trailer is a small part of a larger promotion campaign to persuade the audience to go and see a particular film. The trailer does this using the best moments from the film, paying special attention to the main characters, and arranging them in a way that makes them attractive to the audience. Although the main aim of the trailer is to tell the audience about the film and to persuade them to see it, there are a few other important pieces of information that it will show the audience. It will normally show a date of release.
This is important so that the audience know when they can come and see the film. The trailer may also show the audience an age rating for the film. This is very important because adds to the audience’s knowledge of the target audience and explains who the film is suitable for. All of the aspects that I have mentioned are important in adding to the overall effect of the trailer and fulfilling its aim of promoting the film. In this essay, I will be analysing the trailer for the blockbuster film “Gladiator” in great detail and discussing the effects that this trailer has on its audience.
It is made clear by the trailer that this film is an epic, historical, action film. There are a number of things in the trailer that show us the genres of the film. In the trailer, all of the characters are wearing armour or other historical costume. This makes it very clear that the film is set a long time ago therefore showing the audience that it is a historical film. The camera shots showing the colliseum also make this part of the genre known. Throughout the trailer, a number of fight and battle scenes are shown.
This along with the fast pace of the trailer, shows the audience that the film involves quite a lot of action. Last of all, the strong music and overall impression of the trailer makes it clear that the film is also epic. From the genre of the film, it is often possible to work out the target audience. I think that this trailer shows the target audience if this film to be men and older boys. I think that this is mainly because of the large amount of action in the film. The “Gladiator” trailer begins by showing the companies who made the film.
The Universal logo is the first image to appear on the screen. This shows the audience that the film has been made by a well known company and this may start persuading the audience to come and see the film. After the Universal logo followed the Dreamworks logo. This will show the audience that the film contains special effects of a good standard because Dreamworks are well known for this. This again will persuade the audience and will make them aware of who the target audience might be. Both of these well known companies could act as USPs for the film and make the audience want to see the film.
As these logos are being shown, a strong drumbeat is being played. It is military style drumming. This gives the audience, immediately, before the actual trailer has started, an idea of what type of film it could be or what the genre is. The opening sequence of the trailer contains a number of clues as to what the film may be like and who it is aimed at and has already begun to persuade the audience without any clips from the film being shown. The first thing to appear on the screen as the actual trailer begins is text. The words “The general” appear in bold.
They are white on black background and they stand out to the audience. The words introduce the main character and also give a bit more of an idea about the genre. The words give a visual voice-over for what is about to happen in the trailer. The visual voice-over replaces a traditional voice-over in the trailer and is used to explain what is going on in the trailer. This has an impact on the audience in a number of ways. One of the ways that it does this is that without an ordinary voice-over, the music can be heard better and is therefore more dramatic and has more of an affect on the audience.
The visual voice-over also makes the audience focus on the screen and therefore they are more likely to notice the clips that are so important in persuading them to go and see the film. This again adds to the trailers overall effectiveness. Straight after the words, an image, of who we presume to be the general, appears on the screen. He is standing in front of lines of soldiers. He has a very determined expression on his face and he is walking strongly. The camera shot is at eye level. This allows the audience to relate to the character more as if they are there with him.
The slow motion in this clip emphasizes the determination and strength in his walk. This makes him come across, to the audience, as a brave, strong-willed man. All of the soldiers are dressed in armour and the man, who we presume to be the general, is also dressed in historical costume. This therefore confirms the audience’s thoughts about the genre of the film and also gives the audience a very vague idea of what the plot may be like. The fact that the shot focuses so much on this man makes it clear to the audience that this is the main character and that he is important in the plot of the film.
As the clip freezes and disappears, the words “who became a slave” appear on the screen, again bold and standing out to the audience. The words not only describe the plot but also get the audience thinking about how these things could come about. Especially with this particular phrase as it could puzzle the audience as to why this has happened and how it is possible to go from the status of a general to a slave. This could make the audience more interested in the film because it shows that the film has an unusual plot. This could be a unique selling point for the film.
As the text on the screen disappears, another clip from the film is shown. This time it shows a long row of slaves standing still. This shot is a long shot which pans down the line to show the audience all of the slaves. This might shock the audience slightly because it is such a contrast to the last clip. In the line of slaves, there is one who is standing tall and determined and his stature tells the audience that he is the general who we saw before. This tells the audience that he is the main character in the film and that he is the person that we should focus on throughout the film.
The image uses certain colours, oranges, browns and yellows, to add to the audiences understanding of the genre and to make sure that they know that the film is set in ancient times. The main point of this clip is to show the audience who the main character is and why he is different to all of the other slaves- his strength and determination. After this shot, the visual voice-over continues with the words “the slave”. This shows the audience that the trailer is going to talk them through the plot of the film, step by step.
The audience will like this because they like to know what to expect although the visual voice-over will just give them the basic plot and leave the audience wanting to know more. As the visual voice-over disappears once again, another clip is shown. This time it shows the same man, with his back to the audience, walking into the colliseum, his head held high and proud. We can’t see his face but we presume that he is the same man as before. There are cheers in the background. The way that he is walking proudly shows the audience that he is not going to be a slave for much longer and that he is going to be the hero of the film.
The cheers in the background show the audience that the man is popular. It also shows the audience what he may become in the future- a gladiator. Finally, the colliseum in the background again shows us that the film is historical and also possible epic. The visual voice-over continues to talk the audience through the story with “who became a gladiator” as the image changes. We now see a gladiator who we presume to be the man talked about by the visual voice-over, leading others into the centre of the arena. He is dressed fully in armour making him unrecognisable to the audience.
The camera pans, following him as he walks along. The camera tilts to a low angle making the gladiator appear powerful and dominant. The crowd can be seen in the background, a mid-shot, and along with the cheering, this builds up atmosphere and makes the audience feel part of the scene or the crowd. This clip begins to introduce the theme of action to the trailer letting the audience know the next part of the genre. A long, deep drum beat is played as the scene freezes and more text appears on the screen. The next section of the visual voice-over to appear on the screen is “the gladiator”.
This text clarifies the previous clip for the audience making sure that they understand the plot so far. Next, as the military style drumming continues, we are shown an eye-level close up of the gladiator. The dark colours with red, sandy tones reinforce the genre, as do the costume. The warm colours also make the character appear unthreatening to the audience and make it clear that he is the hero or “goody” in the film. The fact that the camera shot is at eye-level means that the audience feel, in each shot that they are getting to know the character more.
The fact that the shot is quite similar to the first camera shot in the trailer means that the audience instantly recognise the character. The determined expression also makes it clear that he is a hero figure in the film. Overall, the clip continues to introduce the main character paying more attention now to his personality rather than his role in the film. The image links the visual voice-over to the character making it perfectly clear who it is talking about. Again, the image freezes and the visual voice-over once again appears on the screen. This time it states “who defied an empire”.
It is continuing to take the audience through the plot of the film, step by step. In the image that is shown after the text, the trailer introduces the audience to a new, different character. The image shows a tall, obviously powerful man. He is standing on a balcony, waving to a huge cheering crowd below. This image relies on the audience’s knowledge of stereotypes and expectations to show them that this is a powerful person, the emperor. The cheers in the background along with the giant crowd, from which the noise is coming, show the audience that this man is well-known and highly respected.
This again adds to their knowledge of the character’s role in the film. After this clip, a number of action shots are cut together quickly. The speed of the trailer creates excitement in the audience and also adds to the audience’s knowledge of the action genre within the film. The clips that are shown in this fast paced section also show the action aspect of the film. There are a number of clips showing different fight scenes in the colliseum. This adds greatly to the audience’s knowledge of both the historical and action aspects of the film.
The next clip that is shown in this section is a close-up view of a golden mask. This instantly attracts the audience’s attention because they begin to ask questions about who is behind the mask but the clip changes before they have a chance to find out. The shot switches to a bold, bright action shot which shows a gladiator, presumably the one who has been shown throughout the trailer, on his chariot, flying through a sea of flames. This catches the audience’s attention because of the bright colours which suddenly appear, very different from the earthy colours used throughout the trailer so far.
Again there is also mystery that makes the audience interested because, again, they can’t be sure who they are seeing in this clip and they may then want to see the film in order to find out. The shot of the storming chariot is also shown in slow motion so this makes the shot even more effective as it builds up suspense and tension as the audience wonder what will happen next. Again, the clip pauses and we are once again shown the colliseum. It is a low angle camera shot. This makes the colliseum appear very large and dominant over the screen.
This shot shows the audience how important this building will be in the film and also how much the historical genre will affect the film. The trailer now cuts again to the character that we were introduced to not long ago, the powerful man. As we see him, he is screaming at a woman, his face angry and his voice loud. The dialogue shocks the audience because it is so sudden and unexpected. The man is screaming at a young woman who seems so powerless compared to him. He is screaming “am I not merciful? “. This instantly portrays this man, the emperor, as a villain. It makes the audience dislike him. It does this partly by sympathy.
The audience may feel sorry for the young woman as he screams and may feel that by upsetting her, he is a bad person. The trailer also portrays him as a villain using out stereotypical view of people as well as our expectations. The audience will most likely be expecting there to be both a “goody” and a “baddy” in the film as this is normally the case. The audience will also, most likely, have a stereotypical view that the villain or “baddy” in the film will be aggressive and most likely a powerful figure. This shot uses both speech and the audience’s expectations and stereotypical views to portray the emperor as a villain.
Next we are shown another clip of the emperor telling the audience even more about his character and personality in the film. He is shown in a mid-shot looking down at the camera. He has a stern, evil expression on his face which confirms that he is the same man who was shown in the previous clip. The way that he is looking down at the camera or the audience shows that he is powerful and that he knows this. The expression as he stares down at the audience makes him appear dangerous and again adds to our feelings about him as a villain.
Overall, this low angle shot makes the emperor seem dominant and in control of us and the fact that he seems to be making eye-contact with the audience adds to this making us feel slightly threatened by him. The visual voice over is now re-introduced to the trailer with “This summer a hero will rise”. This caption of text plays along to the audience’s expectations that there will be both a villain and hero in the film. It also gives the audience an idea of when the film is released and has also incorporated this into the explanation of the plot.
As this text is disappearing an extreme low angle shot appears on the screen. It shows the gladiator standing tall and bold. The extreme low angle shot makes him appear brave and heroic while his stature tells us that he is a hero. On the clip, he is rising up the screen. This links in with the text that was shown just before and turns the metaphorical phrase into a physical happening making it easier for the audience to understand. In this section of the trailer we are also shown another fast paced montage of clips from the film. The first clip in this section shows the man standing in the arena, his hand in the air.
This seems to resemble victory and shows the audience that he is most certainly the hero of the film. As this clip is being shown, over the cheering and background music, a piece of dialogue is played. “Caesar is proud to present Avius Maximus”. This instantly makes the audience feel that they can relate to the man better as they assume that the man shown is the one being talked about. The way that the dialogue is spoken also shows that the man is highly respected, has done amazing things and is a hero. This again shows us the epic aspect of the film.
The next shot in this fast-paced sequence is a mid shot of a man who we presume to be Maximus, kissing a young woman. This is especially important to the secondary target audience. Females might be much more likely to want to see the film now that they know romance is involved. It shows the audience that the film isn’t just about action and that it can fit into many different genres. This could be another unique selling point for the film. Overall, this shot is an extremely important part of the trailer, because, it makes the film appeal to a wider range of people in the audience and promotes the film greatly.
The fast paced action scenes continue before more text is shown on the screen. This time, the text is showing us the name of the director, Ridley Scott. This instantly catches the audience’s attention because he is such a famous director and is renowned for his action films. This will have a huge affect in promoting the film because it is yet another unique selling point that will persuade the audience to come and see the film. Straight after this text disappears, a bold logo appears on the screen saying “Gladiator”. As it appears on the screen, a deep, loud drumbeat is played to symbolise the importance of this word or logo.
By not showing the name of the film, till the very end of the trailer, the audience are kept in suspense, wanting to know what the film is called. As well as this, the title of the film summarises the whole trailer because of the relevance that it has to the overall theme of the film. The one-word title is catchy and because of the way that it is presented in the trailer, it is likely that the audience will remember it and are therefore, more likely to go and see the film. The final thing to be shown at the end of the trailer is the release time of the film.
However it is given a slight twist. The exact words on the screen are “coming soon 2000 AD”. While this gives the audience a clear understanding of when the film is to be released, it also adds to the final trace of the historical genre as the letters AD show us that the film is not set in the present day or they would not bother to put the letters there. Overall, I think that this trailer is effective and that it promotes the film using a number of different, useful techniques. The first reason why I think that this trailer is effective is because of the music.
The music that is played throughout the trailer is just different variations on a simple military style drum roll. The thing that makes the music so effective is the way that it is synchronised with the different clips in the trailer. The music fits the trailer together in a way that makes it have most impact on the audience. After analysing the trailer, I have also found that the camera shots make the trailer very effective. The way that the different shots are used to communicate the importance, personality and roles of the characters, gives the audience a much better understanding of the characters and the overall plot of the film.
Finally, I think that the way in which the trailer uses our stereotypical views and expectations make it very effective. The trailer gives the audience the basic plot but leaves the audience to decide for them self about the characters instead of spoon-feeding the information to them. This means that the audience have much more personal views about the characters and therefore feel more need to see the film. In my opinion, the “Gladiator” trailer is very effective and the use of camera shots, music, originality and plot should make the trailer successful in promoting the film.