You are on page 1of 1

Analyse the codes and conventions of the Zodiac

Trailer- Alex Maclean


The Zodiac Trailer shows the genre of the film, thriller, as an instrument to demonstrate the codes and
conventions. At the beginning of the trailer we hear fireworks then gunshots (diegetic sound) straight after. The
fireworks foreshadow that a gunshot is immensely because the both sound similar. The sound track (non diegetic) in the middle of the trailer; funk type music, links it back to the era of the 1970s. This shoes the
audience that the movie is set in this time period therefore acting as an anchor for the audience. The funk
music also ups the pace of the trailer towards the end as more of the storyline is revealed up until the point of
the climax where the music stops, where the pace then slows down again as the trailer ends. The feature of
the pace increasing is a key convention in thriller films.
Fincher exploits the codes and conventions of the Zodiac Trailer by employing the use of shot types/ camera
angles and editing. The establishing shot of San Francisco follows the development of the Skyline Headline
part of Hitchcocks Four Step mantra and this shows the audience where and when the film was set: 1970s
San Francisco City. The establishing shot also let's the audience relate to the film because it links the film to
reality; as some lf the people who are watching also live a "city life". The title screen of Zodiac shown at the
end is used to showcase the name of the film in a much more appealing way than just normal text. The fade of
the Zodiac on black background suggests that there is a mystery to whether the murderer is found or not. The
reason behind the mysterious title screen is that the viewers can remember the name of the film because it is
a unique transition. The viewers can remember the name of the film and can tell their friends and family about
the film through word of mouth and other social networking sites, which allows promotion of the film. This
another convention of trailers; to get people talking about the film and telling others so that the film gains
popularity and credibility and ultimately the people can go watch it in the cinema when it comes out.
At the beginning of the trailer the gunshot is shown in slow motion and this special effect adds excitement and
suspense to the scene (common thriller convention) while allowing you to take in hat the victim is blonde at the
same time. The jump cuts used in the trailer are used to make the pace faster and this highlights to the
audience that the film is thriller, which you cant take your eyes off because there are lots of plot-twists in the
film due to the Unique Selling Point of the narrative; an unpredictable serial killer who leaves clues, the jump
cuts and plot twists represent the character of the unpredictable serial killer.
Central to the conventions of thriller trailers is the use of Star Appearances. Major actors such as Mark Ruffalo
and Robert Downey Junior starred in the movie because of the credibility they can add to the film. They also
have huge fan bases, which will entice a wider audience to go and watch the film, which will bring in profit for
production companies. Well-known actors are a key convention of blockbuster thriller films as they usually add
to the success of the film.
The mise en scene used in the Zodiac Trailer presented more codes and conventions of thriller films in the
trailer. The costumes clearly show the professions of the characters which made it very easy to identify who
was who (social significance) and we can see from the costumes that they are investigators and reporters
from the 70s eg : Dull Suits, long hair, large framed glasses. Investigators are usually in most thrillers due to
there usually being a murder; therefore it is a key convention of thrillers. The hard lighting used in the trailer,
dark and gloomy, suggested that the events forthcoming in the film were going to be acts of evil. It also
foreshadowed that something very bad was going to happen very soon after the audience had seen hard
lighting eg : dark sky led up to a murder two shots later.
In conclusion I can clearly see that this film closely follows Hitchcocks 4 Step Mantra and this is partly due to
the films huge success like all of Hitchcocks movies were. It has a perfect balance of building suspense and
revealing stuff at the same time which all contribute to keeping the audience closely engaged with the trailer.
The trailer reveals key conventions of thriller films through editing, camera shots and mis en scene so that the
audience can clearly identify the genre of the film.