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“The Machinist” (2004)
Use of Titles
The first text the audience sees is the ‘Institution titling” in which the film’s distribution company is shown. This is a way of the audience gathering information about the film and what genre the film shown could be. When creating a trailer in my own group, I will research a company that is most suitable for my chosen genre of Film Noir.
Another title shown in this trailer is a critic’s review. The layout of this is however unusual for the style of the film, as it has a much brighter background of yellow, and almost ‘graffiti’ like typography. This is not synonymous of film trailers as you would expect the text to be the same throughout. However the tilted appearance here adds to the distorted theme of the film and symbolises the protagonist’s mind.
The title typography here changes and remains the same for the rest of the trailer. This style seems more apt for the film as it is dark and sinister, therefore reflecting the central issues of the plot. The text addressing the audience also has soft edges, which appear to fade into the black, this symbolises a ghost like presence and heightens the eerie storyline further. It is also noteworthy that only one actor has been credited which may have been done in order not to disrupt from the dark atmosphere that has been developed throughout the trailer.
Introduction of characters
The introduction of Trevor, the protagonist, is mysterious, as the first mention of him is by a character who is unseen- the waitress, Maria. The image of the machine coupled with the sound of her voice dehumanises the character of Trevor, thus adding an illusion of unimportance or disorder. Secondly, the stylistic approach to this introduction symbolises disorientation and confusion for the audience.
The grey scale filter of the image also adds to the dark atmosphere and the tinges of blue depict the machinery and symbolise the character of Trevor. As well as the atmosphere of the colours, the sound bridge leads to a subsequent scene of the conversation taking place- thus clarifying the characters for the audience and ‘taking them out of the darkness’.
The turning point
The signifiers throughout the trailer are structured by a game of ‘hangman’, as they provide the frame for the narrative. This is clear to the audience as they are the only chronological aspects of the trailer, and gradually built in curiosity and present more and more information. It can be argued that the simplicity of the notes themselves is haunting for both the audience and ‘Trevor’, adhering to the thriller genre.
Before the turning point of the trailer, the audience see’s an exposition of who the character ‘Trevor’ is, and his struggle with insomnia and weight decrease. This aspect is presented through many short cuts of his daily life, however some elements are left out in order to create intrigue amongst the viewer. On the other hand, these disregarded aspects symbolises the missing parts of ‘Trevor’s’ mind. Therefore, the narrative lacuna mimics the protagonists' psyche.
It can be said there are many turning points in the trailer, however it appears that the most significant is when this particular post-it note is shown, as form then on, the soundtrack rapidly increases in pace, and volume, as the scenes and action shown become more erratic and chaotic- building to the climax of the trailer.
Soundtrack and audio
All the sounds and score in this trailer appear to be elongated and ‘dragged down’ . This could be interpreted as the symbol of Trevor’s life being drained of emotion, or lack of energy, as the score seems slow and lethargic. There is also a faint sound of a mechanical clock, or ticking in the background, which can also be said to be connecting the theme of machinery and defeat, or conflict.
The editing aspect of the soundtrack is used to highlight the idea that one clip in it’s entirety, complete with audio can serve to propel and strengthen the narrative of the film and therefore develop the trailer itself. This will be important when choosing what scenes to include in my own trailer, as each one must develop and fit with the audio in order to create the desired atmosphere.
The third character ‘Stevie’ is also introduced through a sound bridge, much like ‘Maria’. Her voice was heard whilst the object of machinery was on the screen, a repetition of the introduction of ‘Maria’. This lack of clarification for that moment, forebodes the theme of a ghostly presence or voices in the mind.
The trailer begins to come to a climax as ‘Trevor’ is seen to be piecing clues together on the post -it notes,. Although there is no central scene for these 3 minutes, the post it notes are used a running pattern throughout, and thus develop the climax of the trailer. There is a dramatic shift in the action and soundtrack as Trevor runs though the station, and consequently the scenes become more erratic and jump cuts appear more frequently. As the action is continuously rising, the soundtrack becomes louder and the pace increases to heighten the tone. The last final loud tone of the music is used to end the trailer as Trevor’s face very suddenly disappears in the darkness. T his is a successful end to the clip as it connotes the action and thriller form is a sharp and precise way.