Analysing Trailers… ‘Inception’

Posted: June 18, 2010 in Media

(The new 2010 film from director Christopher Nolan, starring Leonardo DiCaprio)

I watched the above trailer approximately 3 times and then wrote down notes on key areas that could improve my knowledge on what to include in my own trailer…


Upon analysing the trailer I felt it was a thriller/action with psychological themes. I base this assumption on the hints to the narrative given – there were few of them in total, insinuationg that this film will have elements of mystery and twists in the plot, like most thrillers do. We, the audience, also witness shots of explosions, car crashes and can see guns frequently in the main character’s hands- these all give an impression that the film will involve violence and perhaps death- so it will be of an action subgenre. The elements of psychological themes I mentioned are based on the intertitles- ‘the scene of the crime…is in your mind’ and snippets of dialogue about memory and sleeping patterns (Wake me up!) suggest that this film will deal with the aspects of the mind such as memory and will be one which will play with the audiences own mind- therefore making it of a psychological sub-genre.


Generally the narrative is hard to figure out – perhaps this was done so deliberately to make audiences want to go see it- so they can realise what the trailer meant or what significance it holds. However, we as an audience do have a sense of the equilbrium being disturbed with all the chaos and explosions we insinuate that something is wrong- but we don’t know what. And this can only be solved by going to watch the film- clearly the intention of the makers of the trailer then, as this is what a trailer, when it comes down to it, is made to do.  We also see ideas of character types- such as the hero of the film, which is implied to be Leonardo Dicaprio’s character as he is the main star after all and he is the one trying to ‘stop’ something bad happening. He also the focus of our attention and his voice is ehard clearly thoughout the trailer- so we, the audience, feel he will play an important role within the film itself.


Well a star such as Leonardo DiCaprio is an Unique Selling Point within itself. He is a big star- very popular from his roles such as ‘Titanic’ and ‘Romeo and Juilet’. His name as the leading role is likely to pull in audiences by itself no matter the film’s quality or appeal as he is, as I said, a very popular actor with a large fanbase. I also think that what could be a USP is the film’s sense of orginality- it seems to the audience as though it has a story which is different compared to all the other films out there and isn’t copying other films of it’s genre…therefore it might sell well because of the ‘uniqueness’ it displays.

Target Audience…

I would say largely young adults (15 +) from any gender. Why? Well the audiences cannot be younger than 15 because the trailer makes the film’s plot appear to be very complicated and challenging- to understand the film we would have to concentrate and engage our minds with the subject at hand. Young teenager’s/children wouldn’t be able to do this as they might not understand such a complex narrative and may get easily distracted by it or even bored. I think males could be targeted by the use of scenes of violence (guns) and explosions (Special FX) the action sides of the film are most likely to influence males to watch it. I think females are equally targeted by the use of it’s main star: Leonardo DICaprio- an actor whose fanbase consists of mainly women, most likely to be from earlier roles in romance films (Titanic for example). The essence of a female role within the film could also attract female audiences as it gives them a character to realte to.


 At first the fast paced music juxtapostioned the slow pace of the trailer’s editing and camera work. But as the trailer’s overall pace began to build it matched the music and built a large amount of tension on what  outcome the film might have. I think overall the music was the most impactive convention of the trailer as it helped build the audience’s expectations on what the film may include and the tension it will have within it.


The trailer used a wide variety of normal camera shots that we can all recognise and know are used within most films for different effects. Firstly there is a use of a high angle/close up – looking down on our main characters, who are looking up to the sky. This helps represent them as vulnerable to a new threat, and we, the audience, fel the equilibrium is being disturbed and wonder what they are all looking at. Close ups help establish the  main characters of the film to the audience, and these occur reguarly throughout the trailer, most of them consisting of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character.  The use of fast cuts helps build the tension that is being created by the background music of the piece and we feel this film will be fast and full of action due to this. Extreme close ups are also used, mainly for objects such as the glass of water, which can insinuate a thriller, as most tend to do this often (From previous research I have done into thrillers I found it common, in most of them, to focus on objects that have meaning to the narrative itself).


At First the trailer started off with a slow pace- a method of reeling the viewers in and confusing their ideas of what pace the actual film will eventually hold. Their presumptions are then smashed when the trailer build to a very quick and tense pace- suggesting the film will be fast paced and shock/confuse us.


The main dialogue featured in the trailer was the main character, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character’s, voice. His dialogue gives the audience a very big insight into the nature of the film and what the narrative may be- but he goes not go into any great detail or reveal to much- therefore making the audience get a taster of what might happen without them feeling able to be sure. The only way they can ultimately find out what the film is really about and whether the hero will be triumphant is to go and see the film itself. It is also through DiCaprio’s dialogue we, the audience, learn of the equilibrium’s upset and that he intends to stop it- further representing him as the hero and central protagonist of the film itself. Althought here is little other dialogue apart from DiCaprio’s, there are screams of a girl saying: ‘Wake me up!’ and this can alternate our perception of the genre of the film being promoted. After all, it goes back to what I said before: the film looks as though it will have psychological qualities within it…how can someone be shouting to be woken up if the are already awake to say it??

Voice Over…

This is simple. There isn’t one. The only way we have access to any information of the film’s content is of DiCaprio’s character’s voice/dialogue. His imput is all we get in terms of voice overs and it isn’t really a voice over anyway, although some may argue that it is.

Special Effects…

Overall there were quite a few special effects featured in the trailer. Things such as buildings moving, whole places disintergrating, explosions and water defying the laws of gravity help show us this film will be, as I said, unique- it appears strange and out of this world to the audience- like nothing they’ve ever seen before- so this will therefore persuade them to go and see it. Special effects also imply that the film has a big budget and most audiences will regard this as therefore a quality film, although of course big budget HollyWood films are not all necessarily quality or enjoyable. The special effects also helps establish the genre of action and a hint of science fiction- the things that happen, are, in our world, impossible, and therefore go forward into the realms of the fantasy/science fiction genre a tad. Action is implied through the explosions, connotating violence and fighting between the hero and the villain of the film. (Good vs Evil)  

Credits and Intertitles…

There were quite a few titles throughout the entire trailer, mostly used to convert information to the audience and persuade them to see the film. At the start there are the general film company logos, telling us which companies have helped produced the film at hand. This could prove persuading depending on whether audiences generally watch a film because a certain company made it- but I don’t think most audeinces would do this. Instead there is a clever transition from the logos to the trailer itself- which consists of flipping them on the side and them turning into buildings for the camera to zoom into- the first location of the trailer and perhaps main of the film itself. This use of the logos makes the film already seem unique and creative, and the turning of the logos implies the film to have various twists and turns in it’s plot- perhaps a mystery/thriller. There is then the leading role’s name- Leonardo DiCaprio. Yes, here the trailer is already reeling in audiences, making them want to see the film. A big Hollywood star’s name attached to the feature will sure set audience’s expectations high, and for fans of the actor and his works to come see the film. His name alone will bring people to the cinema no matter how good/bad the trailer is. There is then the title ‘From the director of ‘The Dark Knight” in other words, Christopher Nolan, who also directed ‘The Prestige’ and ‘Memento’. The trailer obviously want the name of ‘The Dark Knight’ because they know it was a very very very popular film. mentioning a film as popular as this will bring hoards of fans to see it- they are familar with the director’s previous works and therefore are more likely to go and see this if they enjoyed his last film. They clearly didn’t add his name because they felt it wasn’t as poular as the film he himself had directed and clearly the film name is more recognisable to wider audiences. And then, we get intertiles about the film’s subject- ‘Your mind…Is the scene of the crime’ This is intentionally very direct- it involves each audience member personally witht he trailer and helps build tension. It also explodes with psychological hints- we feel the film will have a narrative that will deal with elements of the mind and will confuse our own.  At last, there is the title of the film itself- ‘Inception’ placed very near the end, as it nearly always is in trailers. Leaving the name of the film at the end of the trailer makes the audience members more likely to watch the trailer all the way through without just skipping past it- after all, the name of the fiml is the most important aspect in some ways. The way some kind of maze is drawn around the title suggests it will be confusing and hard to fully understand- like a real maze infact. And then, we, the audience, are left with just the words ‘Coming soon’ – very annoying, but leaves us waiting, anticipating when it will come out. It makes us more excited with this element of mystery of when it will be released, perhaps spurring some to look it up on the internet to find out. Lastly, there are some credits- small and having very little time on the screen- they’re there, but audiences do not want to dwell on them. They are cut without too much information- but just enough to leave them wanting more.


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