Monday, 1 November 2010

Film Trailer Analysis of The Thing (1982)


The Thing is a film released in 1982 and is the oldest of the films I will be analysing the trailer of, I thought it would be a good idea to analyse an older trailer to get a sense of possibly any codes and convention which are not used anymore. The Thing is Science Fiction horror starring Kurt Russell and John Carpenter. The Thing was a box office flop, and therefore it was not very financially successful, some have put this down to the release of another Science Fiction film in the same year (ET- Steven Spielberg). The film was ground-breaking and world leading at the time in the area of special effects, which created a gruesome feel to the film, and increased a sense of realism. As a result of its special effects it has won a number of awards.

How are the genre and sub-genre signalled? 
The genre of this film can be recognised from near the beginning since it is mentioned that the characters have discovered something, possibly a creature since they do not mention what it is, following this a narrator says how it has been buried in the snow and ice for thousands of years meaning that it must be old, possibly prehistoric. Furthermore the scene where the man talks about how only some of the people standing round the fire are still human and how this creature takes over people means that that it is not easily identifiable and therefore generally relates to the horror genre- the fear of the unknown, taking over people without realising like possession of a demon in a supernatural horror, although The Thing is more likely to be science fiction as it relates to an actual made up creature who has been around for a long time.

Conventions, Iconography, Actors, & Directors?
Since this trailer is nearly 30 years old some of its conventions do not match those of present day, possibly due to limitations in technology at the time, there are however many conventions which are followed to reasonably good effect. The shot used when the main is walking in the corridor, gives the audience a sense that something is coming which may be unpleasant judging by the man’s facial expression. The trailer also features a quick shot of a handle moving leading to the assumption that there is something unpleasant on the other side trying to get in.

 The director of 'The Thing' is someone called John Carpenter, who is commonly recognised for being a director, writer and producer in the horror genre; he has written and directed horror classics such as The Fog (1980). The main cast member to star in this film is Kurt Russell who is known for appearing in thriller films such as Death Proof (Grindhouse) and Poseidon (2006).

How is the audience lured in to watch the movie?
The trailer attempts to lure the audience in by not giving too much of the narrative away, for example, the narrator towards the beginning states how two people have just discovered something although it is not clear what this 'thing' is. By suggesting that this 'thing' which has been discovered has been buried for thousands of years means that it is in fact unknown and therefore could be considered deadly, the fear of the unknown is often considered the biggest scare because do not know what to expect so their imaginations may get the better of them. At the midpoint of the trailer a character makes the suggestion that this 'thing' is hiding inside people, leading the audience to develop more questions relating to what this might actually be.

What is the trailers narrative structure?
The trailer starts off with a segment of speech from a radio communications device where someone says they have found something, this is immediately followed by the film’s title, 'The Thing'. The scene is then set before going straight into the trailer, it is clear that a lot must have been skipped out and that scenes following on from the opening scenes relate directly to 'The Thing' and how it is disrupting the equilibrium. A series of random action sequences are then shown towards the end, before then slowing down to a halt where the film’s title and credits are displayed.

Which elements of the movies narrative are revealed?
The image of the capsule in the Ice suggests how they must be on an expedition at possibly a base, and that they maybe research scientists, although this is not confirmed. The audience know that 'The Thing' will infiltrate inside the base and can live inside people like a parasite, it is also clear that the host of the parasite has a complete change in personality (as though they are not there).

How are the following used for effect and to create meaning?

Sound: A narrator is consistently used throughout the trailer to describe 'The Thing', this could be considered to be the way in which straps used to be presented- as spoken vohe ice. An eerie sounding backing track is used alongside the narrator. An ear-piercing scream can also be heard towards the end of the trailer. 

Setting: The film is set in a remote location where the temperatures are cold enough to produce ice and therefore it could be anywhere possibly Canada, and the north or south pole. It is very remote, with only a group of them, and no one else for miles around.

Hair: As the film is set in the 1980's the hairstyles will be very different to how they would be today, most of the characters have either curly hair or  are wearing head gear, such as hoods because of their location.

Pan: A pan is used to establish the location of the group of people on their expedition, and the bunker is shown along with a helicopter flying in- possibly them.
POV: Also known as Point of View shot is used allowing you to see through the protagonists eyes at the victim, maximising the reality of it.
Close Ups: These are used to show the expressions of the different characters, creating a link between the audience's emotions and the characters.
Props: The main props used in the trailer could include: 
Helicopter: How they arrive.
Coats: Suggests that it is cold, worn by all of the characters.
Guns: Used to protect the characters from 'The Thing'

Make-up: It is unclear how make-up has been used although based on the fact it is a cold environment the characters appear paler at the beginning, and when they are round the fire their faces look more colourful. 

Expressions: Common expressions shown in this trailer include: shock, fear, pain, and deep concern.

Costumes: All of the characters are wearing some type of coat/jacket.

Lighting: Lighting in this trailer does not really have the same impact perhaps how a modern horror trailer would although there are parts where the lighting seems to have been taken into account, such as when the man (close-up shot) is walking inside the building the lighting is kept very low, allowing the audience to become fixated at the man's expression on his face.

Perhaps the reason this type of lighting is because John Carpenter (Director) is known for using a minimalistic approach and therefore uses limited lighting for effect.

Speed & Style of editing: The trailer itself starts off rather slow giving quite a long sound bite at the beggining of a radio, preceded then by the title of the film, as the trailer progresses the speed of the editing increases wherebye the end shows a fast montage of edits.

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