Analysing Trailers… ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’

Posted: June 18, 2010 in Media


(Above:A tale of a Brother’s revenge…scary, brutal and downright nasty British cinema, Starring Paddy Considine)

I watched the trailer a few times ( which you can see above, as finally WordPress decided to work!) and analysed it closely. Here is what I found to be most intriguing, as well as some shots that I like the best from the said trailer…


Judging from the trailer I imagine the film at hand is a thriller/horror with various subgenres. I think it’s more of a thriller than a horror because it seems to have a hint of mystery- we wonder who this character is who is murdering people and his motives for doing so. It doesn’t seem like a horror because we, the audience, know who is doing the killings from the off (as the main character says:’I can’t live with that’ it implies to us is going to carry out his revenge) and we hear the story from the point of view of the villain rather than the victims or heroes- which is more likely to be the case in a horror. The various subgenre I believe to be ‘gangster’/’gang crime’ as most of the characters appear to members of a criminal gang- they hang around together, keep close, look out for one another when a threat occurs and there is also insinuations of violence and crime through the use of guns. Another theme very solid I think in this clip is revenge. It’s clear to us, the viewers of the trailer, that the main character is very motivated to take out his revenge on the members of the gang- because of something they did to his brother, which we see flashbacks of at various times. Although the details of what they did remain unclear, it is clear to us that the main character, Richard, is set on revenge- ‘A brother’s…Vengance.’


The narrative makes itself clear for the audience to understand. The audience sees various clips of two men, later we know are brothers, walking through forests, fields, etc. It is clear they are journeying somewhere and we are inclined to discover where and why- so we watch on. We then hear the main characters speak to each other briefly and we find that they are going ‘back into town’ for reasons still unclear- hinting at mystery and leaving the audience wanting to know more. We then cut to the elder brother whispering ‘what did you do to him?? What did you do??’ it implies something bad happened in the brother’s pasts (the equilibrium being upset then) and this is verified by black and white flashbacks of the younger brother being hurt by a gang of men- it is now clear to the audience that the narrative of the film at hand will revolve around the elder brother’s revenge for what happened to his troubled sibling. (A kind attempt to repair the equilibrium in a very villain like way!) The audience then see the elder brother, Richard, begin to carry out his revenge by threatening various members of the gang. We see the gang panic and realise he is set for vengeance and will not give up. As we see the brother carry out these acts of revenge through various clips and the gang get tense and even more scared by the second we wonder whether Richard will fulfill his revenge (Will a new equilibrium be restored?) and how he will get it- or if the gang will eventually stop him. We want to know the answers and the only way we can is to watch the film. 


I would say the plot’s and overall film’s originality seems to a certain type of USP. It doesn’t seem as though it is copying any other film out there and appears unique within the usual blockbusters we all view at the cinema. It also seems to break usual conventions of film but not having a hero- well, Richard can be seen as a kind of hero- but he is a murderer and not actually a true hero (though this can of course be argued over). So telling a tale from a villain’s point of view will ultimately interest audiences as it is something we do not usually see in films. Another USP could be the fact it says ‘A film by Shane Meadows’- a very well liked and popular British film director, well known probably for his gritty 80’s film ‘This is England’ and by attaching his name to the film promoted here it could spur people who liked Meadows’ other works to give ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ a go.

Target Audience…

Most likely to be 18+ I should think. I don’t think the trailer makes the film out to be suitable for anyone below that age because it involves gangs, murders, guns and all kinds of things are inappropriate for younger people and could have effects on them mentally whether it be short or long term. There’s also a hint that the film will scary, mostly provided by the tense music and the reviews it has already gotten ‘disturbing and utterly gripping’ tells us the film will very tense and is not for younger audiences. I think males and females can enjoy the film, because although all the characters featured in the trailer are male, female audiences could see this as a good thing. It really depends on what type of films they enjoy/what actors they like. Male audiences would enjoy the film as it contains gore and violence (which, stereotypically, men enjoy) and a lot of male characters- ones they possibly can relate to and connect with if they were to watch the film. 


At first, the music in the trailer is slow paced to match the opening clips. It draws the viewers in to making presumptions about what genre of film it is promoting (which sounds at first like a drama or heritage film) and sets them up for what is to come- which reveals the true colours of the film at hand. Like an opening it must be quite slow so that it can build up and thus create tension within viewers- which wouldn’t be the same if it were to just dive straight into action. The music is slow and acoustic- it sounds genuine and sad- like the two characters are troubled or something bad is about to happen. At the second batch of intertitles the music changes dramatically- there is boom or crackle of thunder and the audience feels tense- what is going happen? Why has the music changed? It changes the mood and tone of the trailer as a whole from sorrow to anger. The music is quiet in the background of earlier scenes so important dialogue is not missed- but kicks in loudly when it is needed for dramatic effect- like when Richard bangs on the window, signalling a threat to man on the other side. As the criminal gang begin get scared of Richard’s presence- the music gets faster and louder. We, the audience then feel threatened and tense as to what will happen and who will win this battle of revenge. The music then gets even louder as we reach a montage of shots and various reviewer’s comments and ratings- setting up our expectations of the film itself as we grow tense by the mood the music creates. They want to know how it will end and how and if Richard will get his revenge…The music ends in a sort of ‘draining’ way- there is a sound that is very similar to water going down a drain (or it could be my bad hearing). Anyway it fades away as the title of the film does also and leaves the viewers feeling as if they haven’t been told whole story and it has simply faded away from them- instantly they obviously will want to know more about the film and this probably persuade them to see it.


There are many  different and creative shots displayed within the trailer. Such as.. we have long/two shots and extreme long/two shots to show the brothers travelling together- it implies a journey to somewhere, though it is unclear where they are going exactly. But a journey tells the audience a narrative is moving along and we want to know where they are going and the reasons behind it. There are mid shots of the two brothers- establishing their characters to us and immediately connecting the audience with them and we can see aspects of their personality through the shots. For example- shifting eyes= weaker brother, laid back= stronger brother. There is also an over the shoulder/reaction shot technique used to show a gang member’s reaction to Richard in his full costume- which he uses to murder his victims and mask his identity. The over the shoulder technique shows we are more on Richard’s side of the story, as we, the audience, see what he sees- establishing he is our central protagonist.  Close ups and extreme close ups of Richard are used throughout the trailer- backing up ideas of him being the main character and also showing his emotions. We see he is upset by what happened and determined to bring justice in his own way- it heightens the fact the film is a thriller (psychological, tense) and based around revenge. Also, a lot of shot reverse shots are used throughout the whole trailer- to show important pieces of conversation that’ll help us understand the narrative and to show relationships between certain characters (heroes and villains etc). It gives the audience a small insight into the relationships the characters have but doesn’t go into any detail- further making them want to watch the film itself to see if relationships change in any way.


Well at first the trailer is quite slow paced as we are introduced to the two main characters and get an idea as to what they are doing or will do. The slow pace draws the viewer in and no doubt shocks them when things get a little faster. Cuts become faster as the plot begins to become clear to the audiences and it’s dark subgenres emerge. After it is made clear us what Richard is set to do the trailer sets off on a very fast pace- lots of fast cuts to different scenes make us, the audience tense and scared- what will be the outcome to all this? But generally I think the trailer is slow paced when compared to others- but in this way it is quite unique and doesn’t like it is trying hard to be glamorous or get viewers into the cinema. Which can intice viewers to go and see it because of it’s strange approach in terms of pace.


First thing we hear as the trailer begins is Richards voice- clearly he’s the main character then. And he speaks of ‘God’, ‘Evil’ and ‘Redemption’ insinuating a religious character perhaps, and audience would probably believe he is the hero of the film (as religion connotates pureness, goodness and a determination to get rid of evil). It could also lead us to think the film will have  religious themes. ‘I’m going to have go back into to town to sort some business out’ (Richard)- we, the audience want to know why…what is he going to do? What business? ‘I don’t want to go Richard’ (his brother- Anthony)- he sounds like he is scared…why? Did something happen to him in the past? What happened? the dialogue lets us into the brother’s personalities, shows their strong bond and lets the audience connect with them. ‘What did you do to him? What did you do?’ (Richard) he sounds angry and desperate- we want to know what he is talking about as it sounds as though he is upset by what incident occurred. The screams of Anthony as he is picked on by a gang of elder men answers our question- but we still don’t know who Richard is actually talking to. Has he tracked down oe of the men? What will he do to him? etc. The use of repetition makes Richard sound even more upset and determined and the use of ‘you’ makes it direct and personally addresses the audience, catching their attention instantly.  A piece of dialogue which really begins to set the tone of the film is the pieces between a gang member (Sonny) and Richard:

‘The lads had this ridiculous idea that-‘ (Gang member-Sonny) -what is he talking about? Who are the ‘lads’? Does he believe them?

(Cutting Sonny off) ‘Yeah it was me.’ (Richard)- he’s blunt and obviously doesn’t care who knows what he is up to. He’s strong and determined to get his revenge whatever the costs.

‘You’re making me very nervous, Richard’ (Sonny)- making a gang member nervous? Tells us Richard is a powerful character if he can do this.

‘Well you should be…I if were you I’d get in that car and get out of here man, ‘cos I’m gonna hit you all.’ (Richard).

 This is where he makes his threat and it is clear to the audience what the narrative will be. It revolve around this brother getting his revenge on the men who hurt his sibling- but will he succeed or be killed himself?? Just one last piece of dialogue I’d like to include is this: ‘God will forgive them. He’ll forgive them and allow them into heaven. I can’t live with that.’ (Richard) again it implies Richard’s character to be religious- is he doing this for religious purposes? To get rid of evil and bring justice what happened to his brother? and this makes the audience sympathise with character and therefore connect with him and enlarge the chances of them going to see the actual film. Afterall, he is only trying to set the score and punish the wicked.

Voice Over…

Erm….there isn’t one. Simple as. Richard’s voice appears to speak to us but it isn’t a voice over, as much as he personally connects to audience and helps tell a bit of the narrative in store for them if they went to see the film.

Special Effects…

To be honest I can really see any. This trailer is clearly promoting a film which is realistic and grim- telling tales of British lower class thugs and thieves. It doesn’t need any special effects because they wouldn’t fit into the genre or narrative themselves. It’s more for fantasy or science fiction films than the British thriller with revenge and horror mixed into it. Maybe special effects could be used in the actual film for the murders- but I can’t see any real evidence of special effects within the trailer alone. Also- no special effects helps give it an overall ‘original’ and ‘unique’ feel and implies it rely on more quality things, such as acting, camerawork and narrative.

Credits and Intertitles…

 At the start ‘Optimum releasing’ – the production companies name and logo appears- not much to interest the viewers as they are not as popular as other aspects. And then there are the intertitles…’A brother’s love’…’A brother’s VENGEANCE’- (with vengeance written in capital, bold orange letters- like raging  flames of a fire that can’t be put out ) the titles imply the narrative- that Richard is seeking revenge on behalf of his brother- and brings what’s first introduced as a moving brother love/connection to a whole new deeper and darker level making the film seem dark and threatening. There is a period then of promotional intertitles- ‘Disturbing and utterly gripping, 4 stars awarded, -Empire’ (Magazine review) – makes the film seem like it is enjoyable- it has been watched by critics and they recommend it, which will persuade viewers into thinking it is a film worth watching. ‘official selection- venice film festival, Toronto film festival, Edinburgh film festival, 2004’ – this gives audiences the idea that the film is popular and has been acknowledged for it’s originality- it has been selected specifically from all the films released at the same time to be featured at the film festival. It implies the film is at a very good standard, as the cities choosing it are famous cities everyone has heard of worldwide and are literally spread all over the world- insinuating anyone can enjoy the film, therefore widening it’s target audience. ‘Chilling- Zoo’ (another magazine review) hints at the tone and genre of the film- giving audience’s more of an insight into what the film is like/about. And then, we have the title of the film ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’- written in red and white to give connotations of bloodshed, violence, evil and also, the white signifies purity, innocence and a hero (The fact ‘Man’s’ is written in white could tell us, the audience, the man himself here is the hero of the story). There is then ‘A film by Shane Meadows’ for some reason put after the title of the film- which is strange as usually the titles are left for the very last, as most will want to watch to see what the name of the film is. As I said, the director’s name could bring in audiences because of his previous works and would persuade fans of his earlier films to give this new film a go. There are then the last few credits- quickly put on and off the screen to give the details of the film and also a website link in white ‘’ which, if spotted, leaves the viewers access to more information on the film if they wish to know more about it and/or go and see it. The credits written in red also carries on these themes the trailer holds- which is mostly violence, bloodshed and last, but certainly not least, vengeance.


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