Analysing Trailers…’The DaVinci Code’

Posted: July 6, 2010 in Media

(Above: posters for the very popular film that was originally a novel by Dan Brown)

Here’s the trailer that I analysed…

You may noticed I’ve also included some of my favourite screen shots from the trailer…


Generally the trailer seems as though the film is going to be a mix of lots of different genres and not just have a single dominant one running throughout it. For example, there are hints at a subgenre of crime through the shots of a dead body (presumably murdered) and dialogue that refers to members of the police service ‘The chief of police needs your help’ etc. There is also a big hint that the film will revolve around historical themes as there are many montages of shots of historical and iconic paintings and buildings. There is also talk of learning about ‘the past’ at the very beginning of the trailer, immediately giving audiences the impression the film at hand will deal with historical topics. Hints at action can also be spotted through clips of perhaps car chases, crashes and also the two protagonists running either to or from something in a great hurry, implying the film will include some action within it. Hints at romance are small but still there, and we, the audience, get the idea that the two protagonists may bring a sense of the genre of romance into the film itself. (Like the hero and the princess he needs to save if we were talking in character types). I also think, although not as dominant, the trailer appears to be revealing a religious genre to the film through choice of music in the background of the trailer itself.


Narrative isn’t really given away a lot in the trailer. There are a lot of hints at things but I think most of it is kept hidden away from audiences to widen their chances of going to see it, perhaps confuse them by believing it is something it is not, or to perhaps emphasise the one of the film’s genre, which is mystery. I think the trailer really gives two parts of the narrative of the film to the audience: one is the basic, simple facts. It is clear that Tom Hanks’ character has been called to help figure out a murder case (so he’s the hero trying to restore the equilibrium) and a woman, the other protagonist of the film, is going to try to help him and is linked to the murder case in some personal way (I swear I heard talks of her ‘grandfather’). And then the audience is left wondering whether the two will succeed in restoring the equilibrium, how they’ll do it, how their relationship will progress/change, what they’ll find etc etc But the trailer also gives hints at more than just this. Other character’s dialogue mainly tells us the narrative doesn’t stop there and makes the audience feel as if the film will be more than just one simple narrative and have a lot more smaller, interlinking stories within it, such as the talk of a ‘ongoing war’ and ‘a message’ which could make audiences intrigued to know more and want to go and see the film to see how all these themes and narrative hints interlink.


Well there are quite a few of these included in the trailer to help ‘sell’ the film to the audience. The main being the lead role of the film, which is played by the very popular and well known Tom Hanks, who is praised for his fine contribution to classic films such as ‘Forest Gump’ and Stephen King’s ‘the Green Mile’ where he often plays the leading role. Attaching his name to the film is likely to attract audience attention as he has a large fan base and fans of his acting or previous films he has starred in are likely to go see the film if his name is mentioned. The director Ron Howard is also a big selling point, as he is well known for his films such as ‘Cinderella man’ and ‘Apollo 13’ and fans of previous films he has directed will be more likely to be interested in this one if they hear that he has directed it. Another USP is the fact this film is based on a very popular novel, written by Dan Brown. Because of this the film already has a large fan base of people who read the book and want to go see the film to see the interpretation of the story from page to screen.

Target Audience:

I don’t think this is very gender based, as there are two leading roles which are male and female for both genders to connect with. I do however, feel this film is aimed at older teenagers to adults because it looks a bit too scary for younger children (talks of murder and scenes of it too) and also it looks like the plot will be quite complicated or confusing. Thus we can judge that young children would get easily confused by it’s complex plot while older audiences may rather enjoy it.


I think the music fits in well as it begins as quite slow paced, like it does in most trailers, drawing the viewer in and introducing them to the story and main characters. And then as the action occurs and parts of the plot is revealed the music matches this and gets faster and louder, which helps create tension in the viewer as they wonder what will happen. It also sounds quite dramatic, connotating  the plot to involve tragedies and perhaps life/death situations. I also think the music sounds a tad religious, as it sounds similar to a church choir singing. So I would guess it is indicating at religious themes locked within the film itself, such as controversy over church truths, religious battles and arguments about this topic throughout history etc etc.


The camerawork, as ever in trailers I am soon discovering, is very varied. Mid shots were plenty, establishing characters to us and introducing the role they may play in the film. It also helps show their emotions at various times during the film to help create a similar emotion is us, the audience, and feel connected to the characters we see. Extreme close ups were used a lot, mainly to focus on objects, suggesting their importance within the plot. It also suggests the film will be mysterious as the whole picture is not being shown in an extreme close up and something is hidden from the audience’s view, thus leading them to expect their will be a mystery they and the protagonists have to try to solve. There was also a lot of bird’s eye view style shots, where the camera was situated at where the ceiling of a room may be, looking down on the characters as they walked down halls and found various things in rooms. It may hint to us that the film is complicated and will have so many interplots that we may wish to literally and back and have a good look at what is going on so we don’t miss any important details that ould be crucial in understanding the film itself.


Like almost all the trailers I have analysed so far, this trailer varies in pace. In generally starts off slowly, drawing the viewer in and introducing them to the main characters of the film, locations and introducing the genre and basic narrative of the film. And then, it begins to get faster and faster as several disruptions occur within the plot and things such as danger and new knowledge within the plot are hinted at. This then makes the trailer get even faster in it’s pace as several action scenes are implied at and we begin to get tense at to what’s happening, why and what the outcome will be. It ends at a slow pace, leaving us, the audience wondering about the end of the film and what the answers to our previous questions are, and the only way to get the answers is to watch the film being promoted.


dialogue in this trailer, like in most of them, is very important in conveying the themes of the film itself and hints at possible pieces of the plot. For example, talk of  ‘police’, ‘written in blood’ and ‘murder’ suggests the trailer is promoting a crime film as these are the usual conventions seen within this genre. And all the repetitive talk of ‘symbols’, ‘keys’ and ‘codes’ makes the audience think that the film will be a kind of mystery film, as there appears to be something that needs to be solved and we wonder what the answer is and what it will mean to the characters and plot within the film itself. The dialogue featured also implies character relationships

 ‘..your grandfather left you…’

 ‘left us’

this indicates possible character relationships such as romance as the female lead regards them as ‘together’ in the process of solving the mystery, like a duo. It implies to us that the characters are close and we wonder whether this will change (and how if it does) or how this came to be. A dramatic scream of ‘NO!!!’ from a character also suggests the film will involve tragedies and characters might die in the fight to solve the mystery. This indication will mean audiences will want to watch the film to see if it is indeed true and who will die or suffer and what the overall outcome will be.

Voice Over:

Although kind of beaten by the use of tense and revealing dialogue that really helps give the audience a real ‘taste’ of what the film has in store for them, there is a  small voice over included within the trailer. It says: ‘A murder, that hides a message…A code, only she can break’ this little snippet gives the audience the implication that the film will have a subgenre of mystery as it involves solving codes, secret messages and murder, which are usual conventions seen within mystery films no matter what other genres they are linked with. The voice over also indicates the importance of the female protagonist, as they say she is the only one that can solve the mystery. It suggests that she must be one to eventually save the day and work out the mystery, which is strange as without the voice over it would probably seem that Tom Hanks’ character is more important than the female lead but it appears that this may be wrong and makes us question the trailer is telling the absolute truth about the film. It also connotes that the film will have twists and turns and perhaps a shocking ending that we, the audience, would not have guessed.

Special Effects:

Even though I think there were probably quite a few included within the trailer, like the reveal of something in painting and car crashes etc I think that they weren’t over the top or emphasised upon as it is not a big part of the film itself. I think it likely the film will be very ‘down to Earth’ and quite realistic as it looks like it is dealing with something that is ancient and historical ‘witness the biggest cover up in human history’ I think that due to these many references to religion and paintings and wars and cover ups etc that the film will not be high tech or require massive special effects as it is dealing with something that is criminal and sinister but also old-fashioned and is likely to be carried out in old fashioned ways that don’t require gun fights or car chases or anything of that kind.

Credits and Intertitles:

In the beginning there were a few titles, mainly production companies ‘Imagine’ and ‘Columbia’ – things audiences probably don’t regard as very important when judging whether to see a film or not. The next title was ‘From Director Ron Howard’ as I said before, a big USP to include as he is a well known American actor as well as being a director. ‘On May 19th’ – giving audiences the date of release, capturing their attention on the film and letting them know when to expect it to be out in the cinema. ‘unlock the code’ again, we are given connotations of mystery and it also interests audiences as it sounds like it is addressing you personally, telling us to unlock the mystery of the film, which is why many audiences enjoy watching the genre, to see if they can and if they can get it right. ‘Tom Hanks’– as I said, a very big actor for all of his iconic roles within classic and much loved films. His name attached to the trailer may attract audiences no matter whether they thought the trailer was good or not. Attaching his name was a little pointless anyway, as he is so well known most audiences would just instantly recognize his face and/or voice upon his appearance in the trailer, but I suppose they just wanted to make sure everyone knew that this big Hollywood star was playing the leading role within the film to ensure a wide audience. ‘The DaVinci Code’ As always, the name of the film is left until the very last second, keeping audiences intrigued and hooked onto the trailer to see the name of the film itself, which is the most important aspect afterall. There also mentions of a few more stars like ‘Ian Mckellen’ a well known Scottish actor for his roles in films such as Richard III and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which would get even more of a wider audience to see the film at hand. There is also a few symbols shown, connotating once again the mysterious nature of the film and also a few more full credits that most trailer feature at the very end. I’d like the mention that the titles themselves were in yellow, and looked quite old fashioned, like they were tea stained or had lost colour from the sun, much like a painting. This links to the film itself  (the painter DaVinci and his masterpieces are obviously clues in the mystery of the film) and the fact that I stated before that the trailer makes the film appear quite old-fashioned and not high tech or in need of many special effects.


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