Public Enemies Trailer Analysis

By Lauren

Trailer T8

Production Companies and Information

(Heat and Collateral also fit into the film-noir genre.)

Notable actors

(Channing Tatum also stars in the movie.)

Critics and awards

"It's a landmark crime saga" (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

(Empire rating)

“Michael Mann's latest is a competent and technically impressive gangster flick with charismatic lead performances, but some may find the film lacks truly compelling drama.” (Rotten Tomatoes)

• Although in the trailer there are no critics or awards displayed, after doing some research I have found some critical reviews and many nominated awards for 6 different award shows. • I think these pieces of information are absent from the trailer because Michael Mann is already a notably acclaimed director and the film contains Hollywood award winning actors and actresses. Therefore, the trailer doesn’t need this additional information to further engage people. However, this information could have helped to further engage people as they are a prime example of ‘opinion leaders’. Then again, the trailer could have been made before reviews were made so they could not be provided in time for release of the trailer. • The film was still successful without this information as the film was budgeted at $100m and made $214m.

The beginning of the trailer aims to introduce us to the main character, John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and the main themes in the film, such as crime, love and secrecy, which fit in with the genre we plan to use in our trailer, neo-noir. From the exposition, we still see some elements of classic film-noir, such as the American crime theme, conflicting antiheroes, being trapped in difficult situations and making choices, and nihilistic moral systems.
The cinematography of the exposition highly reflects that of a traditional film-noir film. For example, the props (old fashioned planes, machine guns), setting (America), colours (dark, dull and of a greyish tinge), lighting (low key lighting) and subtitles (e.g. 1933 confirms to us that this film is based in a particular period of time). The non-diegetic music that accompanies these images is quite distorted with eerie connotations and with the images of machine guns leaves feelings of suspense. We think everything is okay as the subtitle uses the word “justice”.


The complication arises when John Dillinger is brought into prison and is talking to the press. Here, the eerie music from the exposition stops and at first John looks nervous about the photography. The scene differentiates from the beginning as there a more short takes and the editing is faster, giving a disorientated atmosphere and hustle along with the shouting men and camera flashes.


He is then however, in a calm, composed state which is unusual if a criminal has just been caught. His relaxed posture (leaning on another man) emphasises the subtitles in the exposition “America’s most notorious criminal” and tells us that he is relaxed, in control and not worried at all about being caught.

However, in the next scene when John is talking to a detective, we realise complication has risen as he’s told he is going to be executed. John seems disbelieving and unaffected by this as he says “well, we’ll see about that” leading the audience to think that something drastic is going to happen. These clips are slower, which is common before the rising action.

Rising Action
The rising action is instigated by the quick succession of shots following a close up of John’s face fading to black. This sequence of shots before is like the “calm before the storm” as there is now a change in music and action from different points from the film.
The shots have a fade to black transition between to further emphasise there is a lot going on. The first is of someone’s hands grabbing a gun, then a guard being punched with an amplified sound, a door being kicked and someone bashed in the head, John shooting numerous times and killing someone, and an escape. This sequence lasts just 3 seconds but shows lots of action within the film.

After this, non-diegetic music returns but unlike before, it has an upbeat, rhythmic tune. The song is “Otis Taylor- Ten Million Slaves” and has a country and western feel to it. The long shots in this part of the trailer allow the audience to gain a sense of idea of the plot and some of the main characters. At the same time, it still maintains to be action packed with amplified sounds of gun’s firing and car crashes. It is also in this part that we learn and are introduced to John’s love interest, which links with the film-noir theme of love.

The climax occurs after a man says “Wanted. John Dillinger, dead, dead.” This sound bridge is heard over a number of clips until we see the man eventually saying it. As he finishes speaking, the sound continues onto a clip of John and his love interest (Billie) with bright colourful connotations which fades to white. As the rising action finishes, the music also ends by increasing in volume and pitch slightly. This irony aids the audience in feeling slightly sorry for John as he is being hunted and we start to get the feeling that this will ruin the love between him and Billie. This marks the ending of the rising action and moves into the climax as we then reach the peak of the action in the film and the troubles begin. This music has yet again changed for the 3rd time and now sounds like a violin or orchestra. This music highly reflects the film-noir genre as it is quite clichéd in older films when there is a love crisis. In this sequence, there’s a mixture of quick editing, slow motion and sound overlays from other parts of the film. The sound overlays allow us to conclude that an underlying and significant theme in the film is love. For example, someone says “He’s out there, could be anywhere, but he’s not anywhere because what he wants is right here” along with clips of Billie being driven away and a phone conversation saying “I promised I’d look after you”.


There are also lots of other sound bridges as we see the frustration between detectives as they are trying to hunt John whilst he is on the run along with “Sooner or later, she will go to him, or he will come to her” along with gun shots signifying that there could be a death. The climax is significant as from the beginning of the trailer, there were no suggestions of a romance at all.

The climax ends with two shots of John and Billie (leaving us with the thought of their love) and the title fades in on a blank screen. There is then a brief shot of John firing a gun (to remind us of the crime) with an echoed gun sound and then the credits are at the end with “Coming soon”. The music also fades out slowly after the title.

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