October 28, 2012


Last week I was struggling a bit with the concept of Miller's theory of genre as a “situated action.” I knew what genre was and how different mediums and stories could be divided into different genres or have overlap with several genres at once, but I wasn't quite sure I fully grasped Miller’s concept. After looking at the posted trailers and their remakes and trying to apply Miller’s theory to them, however, it is much easier to understand. All these movies are very fully entrenched in their specific genres, and many of them are used as classic examples of those genres. However, with a bit of simple re-editing, an entirely new product is created.

The original Shining trailer is simplistic, but extremely effective, using only one scene of the entire movie after a rolling line of credits set to music specifically designed to put you on edge. We are given no other information about the movie than what is in the credits. The remake, of course, re-cuts several scenes of the movie to make them seem more benign than they really are.

In the remade Mary Poppins trailer, one of the musical’s most iconic songs, what was originally a very soothing and pretty lullaby, is paired with rushing wind and the ominous chiming of Big Ben, giving it a much more sinister quality that is rather chillingly sinister to the demonic nursery rhyme from Nightmare On Elms Street. All the light-hearted, whimsical moments of the film typified in the original trailer, such as the nursery toys coming to life, are re-cut to seem more menacing and threatening than playful. Scary Mary indeed.

The Lord of the Rings original trailer portrays it as an epic, full of adventure, perilous danger, and fantastical creatures. The remade one portrays it as a “feel-good” movie, quirky and lighthearted. The same with The Matrix as a “lost love romance” movie, an also includes using a different, softer typeface for the title credits.

By changing a few key aspects of a trailer, the entire movie’s genre is deconstructed and remade into something different.

1 comment:

Zach van Dijk said...

I find this concept extremely interesting, the idea that presentation has such an astounding effect upon genre perception. I specifically appreciate your comments concerning the Mary Poppin's remake. You liken the changes to an already typified genre, "giving it a much more sinister quality that is rather chillingly sinister to the demonic nursery rhyme from Nightmare On Elms Street." Miller would understand this comparison as a recognition of genre, presented through the medium of the trailer. That a recurrent rhetorical situation (viewing trailers similar to this) creates a typified rhetorical action (lumping the Mary Poppins remake into the preconceived understanding of such trailers). These remakes are based on other genres, and thus, it is moreso our prior understanding of other trailer genres that allows us to see the change. Basically, I am saying that the examples above exemplify remediation, and that remediation is changed based on already understood genres.

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