A Good Trailer Gives the Tone

I am in the evidently crowded camp of people wary of many a trailer because they reveal too much of the plot. However, I do still enjoy trailers that give you the feel of the film journey they want you to take: you have an idea of the characters, the genres, the tropes to be honored, the tropes to be subverted, and the overall tone.

These days, the trailers that pull this off are usually the first trailers released, often dubbed the “teaser trailer.” However, the successful versions of these aren’t simply a scene or a one-minute “announcement” that gives you little more than the logo, but a full 2-3 minute trailer that simply doesn’t reveal too much about the plot. It just gives you its cinematic value proposition: do you want to spend about two hours of your life on this story?

One of my favorite examples is the 1998’s World War II film The Thin Red Line. Some of you may recall another WWII film released that year which rather overshadowed Thin Red Line in popular culture then and since. (Its own first trailer is also a good teaser although it’s as different as the two films are). In any case, what I love about the trailer below is that, after watching it, you know exactly what kind of journey you’re going on with The Thin Red Line. It’s not a by-the-numbers war film and it may not be for you, but you’ve already been on a mini-journey to know if you want to dive in.

(For some folks, I suggest this as far as they go, but to definitely check out the trailer).

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