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Katy Jackson


Black Swan Trailer Analysis
For my final part of research I have decided to analyze the trailer for the Black Swan. The
genre of this film is drama, mystery, thriller and tragedy. This complex combination of
genres will allow me to see how the themes and conventions interact with each other in
one product. Although I will not be using as many genres in my trailer I believe it will be
useful to have a higher understanding of how multiple genres work together.

The Narrative Structures
The trailer begins with a message from the MPAA telling the audience that an adult or
guardian should accompany anyone under 17. This allows the audience to foresee that the
themes and events that occur in this trailer may be violent, sexual or another reason for
not wanting people younger than 17 to watch it alone. It
could be due to the destructive nature of characters in the
film as younger people are more likely to be influenced
by what they see so the hope could be that with someone
older than 17 in the room the message can be clearly got
across to people younger than 17 that it is just a film and
everything that occurs in the film is not real.
The screen then goes black allowing the audience a second or so to prepare themselves
for the trailer they are about to see. Non-diegetic incidental music comes in as two idents
are shown one after the other (Fox Searchlight Pictures and Cross Creek Pictures). This
gives the production companies the credit
they deserve. The screen fades into white
and then fades out an (almost) extra long
shot of a ballerina. This is an incredibly
dramatic shot to start the trailer due to the
low-key lighting using a spotlight effect and
the contrast in colours between her white
dress and the darkness around her.

The rest of the trailer follows a linear narrative as the small segments of dialogue the
audience sees between the protagonist/antagonist and stock characters come in an order
that makes sense (is chronological). It is definitely a closed narrative as it follows one
story that has a beginning, middle and end. In addition to this it partially follows
Todorov's narrative theory as it begins with equilibrium and then a disequilibrium.
However, as the film's genre is 'tragedy' it doesn't resolve back to normal and instead
leaves the audience on a cliff hanger (her pulling a feather out of her skin). This is an
incredibly good technique to use, especially for
fans of drama films and people in my target
audience (teenagers and young adults), because it
leaves them wanting more. If these consumers
were to see a happy ending in a trailer then they
would feel no need to go and see the film. Syd
Field's theory also relates to this trailer in a
similar way as it follows the setup and
confrontation but not the resolution as the trailer does not resolve.

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How is the genre of the film established?
Some incredibly dramatic shots are shown in this trailer, therefore proving iconography is
an important element to establishing the genre. Although, there are moments in the trailer
where the screen is black (no iconography is shown) but sound continues to be heard.
From this I can see that to be dramatic in a trailer you do not always need iconography
and for the audience to not see anything may be more dramatic at that moment as they are
anticipating when they will see something.
From this shot alone you can tell that the genre will
involve drama in some sort of way as the woman is
heavily made up with make-up that isn't seen every
day. She also has her hair scraped back and a brick wall
behind her. All of these aspects make the target
audience question things about her and wonder why
she's in this situation. Therefore, it is clear from all the
drama going on in the consumer's head (i.e. all the questions running through their head)
that the genre of the trailer must be drama.
Various sound elements are used (non-diegetic incidental music, ambient sounds, diegetic
dialogue, etc) which give the audience a lot to listen to, therefore making it dramatic (to
listen to).
The inter-titles produced for this film are very effective in terms of colour, typography
and their background. The colour of the
background is grey and white and if you look
closely you can see that the image itself is
some feathers from a bird, or in this case, a
black swan. This works very well with the
white typography which is in a simple font
and is all in upper case letters, making it easy
to read. It also gives off a dramatic effect as it
isn't relying on unusual font to stand out.

Audience Pleasure
This film incorporates three incredibly successful genres; drama, mystery and thriller. By
combining the 3 there is the potential for a massive target audience which through an
effective trailer will all be convinced to watch the actual film itself.
I believe people who watch this will enjoy it as it gives the audience information but not
enough to piece it all together (therefore keeping a sense of mystery). As well as this the
storyline is unusual but still easy to understand, meaning that some people won't get
distracted and stop watching it as they will be enthralled by what they see throughout. A
common mistake in some trailers seems to be to make the narrative seem too confusing
whereas from my own experience watching trailers I can definitely say that I prefer to
watch one where I understand what is going on!

A large range of shots are used to make the trailer
more visually appealing for the audience. The

Katy Jackson


long, establishing shot to the right allows the audience to recognize the location (a dance
studio) and also see the action taking place in the location (dance training).
In contrast to this a two shot close up of two of
the main characters establish a relationship
between the characters. Two shots are incredibly
effective in doing this as the audience can see
both of the character's expression. The close up
helps with this and also directs the audience just
to focus on the characters themselves.
Both types of shot are effective and prove that a range of shots work well in different
ways therefore making it necessary to include many types of shots in one trailer so that
the audience can see/experience the benefit of each one.
The length of shot varies on what is being shown and this trailer conventionally shorts the
length of shots to build to a climax near the end of the trailer.
As usual, cuts are mainly used. In some cases a fade from black is used, but cuts are the
majority as they get to the point and get on with the drama in the trailer without the
audience focusing on the transition itself.

Grading would have most likely been used in this
trailer to create the right atmosphere (a slightly,
dark cold one). This can be seen clearly at 0:16 in
a long shot of a ballerina. Without grading the shot
wouldn't be as blue in some of the darker areas of
the shot and wouldn't have the slight 'black and
white' effect. Grading is incredibly effective and
can change/enhance the atmosphere of a shot

Target Audience
As I mentioned before the genre of this
film is a genre hybrid, mixing drama,
mystery, thriller and of course, tragedy.
This means that the trailer encompasses
themes from each of this genres, making it
more likely to appeal to a larger target
audience. It takes one of the main aspects
of the drama by showing 'an honest
struggle' of a person, a ballerina in this
case. The fact that the trailer shows the ballerina's struggle is a new take on the 'honest
story' idea as very few people are successful ballerinas so not as many people will be able
to relate to it. However, a lot of people will be interested in the work that ballerina's have
to put in since this is an incredibly dramatic, partially un-realistic adaptation of what
happens to a lead ballerina before a show.

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The main representation in this trailer is of a woman ballerina who is dedicated to her
work. She becomes the new 'swan queen' and lots of comments are made in the trailer
about how she moves and looks. This woman has
aspects that are stereotypical of females but also aspects
that subvert what we would typically see. For example,
a close up is shown of her teacher feeling her leg as he
says 'feel my touch'. This shows the submissive side to
her that allows to be touched and is easily over-powered
by a man. Whereas the close up low shot of her foot 'en
pointe' shows her disciplined side, a trait unconventional
of the archetypal woman. These two sides to her gender
bounce off each other (the typical and not so typical)
allowing an interesting character to develop that the
audience will want to know more about.
In conclusion, I feel as though analysing this trailer was a great way to finish my research
off. The themes seen throughout are pretty complex but still manage to be relatable. This
may be something worth exploring for my trailer although I know for sure that I want
mine to be relatable, even if that means the themes have to be complex.