21 August 2013

Trailer Analysis: THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (2013)

The trailer for what looks like what will be one of the finest, or at least most interesting, films of this year, is a stunningly realised piece of editing and marketing with an inspired soundtrack choice that works to elevate this trailer above most others. In the opening moments of the trailer for 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty', from lead actor and director Ben Stiller, we are shown the mundane life of the titular character - getting dressed and heading off to work - through some visually spectacular cinematography, a highlight being the shot of the workers climbing and leaving a set of stairs like ants spilling out of an ant hill. This stunningly beautiful approach to the depiction of ordinary life heightens the fantasy of the film, which is heightened even further when the audience witnesses some of Walter Mitty's dream sequences which include but are not limited to flying through windows and leaping out of helicopters into a stormy ocean. Not at single word is spoken in the trailer until the final scene, yet the plot is hinted at simply and effectively through the use of visuals, much like a silent movie, and within the first minute we are given an insight into Walter Mitty's outlook on life, his unrequited affection for a female colleague and his desire to live his wildest fantasies, the latter most poignantly being explained by the shot of Sean Penn's explorer character coming to life in a photo inviting Walter, and by proxy, the audience into the fantastical world of this film. We see consecutive shots of Walter picking up his coat and his briefcase ready to set of on his adventure, much like the audience will as the trailer kicks off into high gear with a flurry of breathtaking shots that showcase the scope and beauty of the picture.

One minute into the trailer we are given the release window of the film, 'This Christmas', suggesting that this film will be lighthearted and suitable for a wide audience. Movies released at Christmas time send to be family movies and while the trailer for this film gives the impression that it will certainly be full of hope and wonder it is also a film with adult themes. Of course, this is the time of year that studios use to release films that they expect will be critically acclaimed rather than simply commercially successful in the run up to the Awards season when they could potentially pick up a number of nominations or even wins. 'Walter Mitty; certainly looks like a film of Oscar-caliber and it is clear that the studio is confident by marketing what is clearly a complex film without 'dumbing it down' as such by treating the audience like idiots and giving them unnecessary exposition. The trailer, however, follows the familiar, tried and tested, structure of most of today's trailers, and climaxes with a brief gag scene in which Walter is presented with two options of rental car: a cold and uninviting blue, or red which evokes feelings of excitement or passion. He immediately goes with the second option - and so it seems the filmmakers, and editors of the trailer have done too.