Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"In Bruges," or how do you feel about misleading movie trailers?

Why the trailer and not the movie? Because the two are only distantly related, a blatant act of dishonesty on the part of whoever produced the trailer, and thus ought to be considered separately.

The trailer, formerly available here, is a hysterical romp. The movie, on the other hand, is a sometimes moving meditation on the psychic cost of murder, a tale of two hit men laying low in Bruges, mulling the consequences of their chosen profession as they await instructions from their boss.

Brendan Gleeson is stunning as Ken, hit man number one. Ralph Fiennes, as the Godot-like boss whose instructions the two hit men wait for, is a nervous bad guy. The movie makes sensitive and evocative use of gruesome Flemish Renaissance art, notably that of Hieronymus Bosch. And a climactic scene has Colin Farrell's tender-hearted Ray, hit man number two, running past a monument to the tender-hearted Charles the Good, count of Flanders, murdered in Bruges in 1127.

Since In Bruges and its trailer are so radically dissimilar, I'll take a break from fiction and ask if you've ever been misled by a movie trailer and, if so, how you felt once you'd seen the movie.

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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16 Comments:

Blogger Vince said...

I do think that In Bruges is a good bit more somber than the trailer implies. But the movie is also pretty funny, so in that sense I didn't feel misled.

February 20, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

I wish I could see the movie without having seen the trailer first. Sure, the movie's funny moments are pretty funny, but the somberness was so much more to the fore that I really did feel at time that I was watching two different movies. The odd part is that both the movies, the witty comic film and the somber meditation about killing, were well done. I'm just not sure how well they fit together.

February 20, 2008  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

Almost all British movies of late have been about the comic misadventures of criminals and I think the producers felt they needed to insert In Bruges into this matrix to insure an audience.
I manage to not watch trailers because they give too much away so although I'm sure I saw it before seeing the movie, it didn't influence me. Trailers want you to believe the comic aspects are prevalent, I think, when both elements are there. Sweeney Todd comes to mind. It looked more comic than it was.

February 20, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

I've seen Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and another example or two of the genre, and it occurred to me that the producers of the trailer were seeking that audience. It had not occurred to me that the filmmakers would have been so calculating as to graft that influence onto an otherwise somber movie.

I don't normally watch trailer either, but Declan Burke posted a link to it on his blog. I now note that the trailer is no now longer available from the link he posted. Perhaps once the film was released, its producers felt no longer prudent to advertise the blatant disconnect between the trailer and the movie.

February 20, 2008  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

I went to the movie's website on IMDB and was able to watch it there. If you watch carefully, there is a hint of something more behind every pratfall, but you have to look very hard.

February 20, 2008  
Anonymous Michael Walters said...

The Guardian recently published an entertaining piece pointing out that the trailer for 'Sweeney Todd' managed to omit the fact that the film is, um, a musical.

http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,2252544,00.html

My general problem with movie trailers is not so much that they're misleading, but that they're too informative, often condensing pretty much the whole plot into two minutes. I've seen very few modern trailers that made me want to see the movie. I've seen a lot that made me think: 'Well, that's fine - that's another two hours of my life I don't need to waste.'

More entertainingly, The Guardian also referenced the splendid spoof trailer for 'The Shining' which is always worth revisiting...

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/film/2008/02/the_black_art_of_the_trailer.html

February 20, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

Patti, I wonder if there were two trailers for the movie. I believe the one on imdb.com is different from the one formerly available on YouTube through the Crime Always Pays blog. Unless I'm mistaken, the amusing scene with the fat family was not in the YouTube version, for instance. I'd agree that the opening clip in the imdb trailer hints at the tragic event that spurs the movie's action. But the trailer makes no effort to capture the tragic tone set by that event.

Michael, my problem with trailers may be related to yours. They try to do too much, slapping together a succession in jerky MTV style that may be not at all suited to the movie in question. Like you, I am far, far likelier to be turned off by a trailer than attracted by it.

February 20, 2008  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

We know the studios make more than one trailer because as a movie nears its opening, the trailer gets more lengthy. I'm sure you're right. Oh and yes, that was the main issue of Sweeney Todd-no music in the trailers.

February 20, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks. I didn't know that studios made multiple trailers. And the absence of music from Sweeney Todd's trailer is a hoot. I'd say it beats In Bruges in the misleading department.

I will check the Sweeney Todd trailer, though. I'd been meaning to see the movie even though I know none of the songs. I hear that Sondheim guy is supposed to be good.

February 20, 2008  
Blogger Declan Burke said...

Hi Peter - I read an interview with the writer / director, Martin McDonagh, and according to him the setting came first, and he grafted the story onto Bruges, rather than the other way around. It's certainly a darker movie than the trailer implies, but I think the two strands work well together, at least until the coincidences start coming too thick and fast. Sweeney Todd, by the way, is brilliant. And I generally don't like musicals ... Cheers, Dec

February 20, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

I'd read your comment about coincidences before I saw the movie, but those didn't bother me. I hesitate to get too specific lest I spoil things for anyone who has not seen the film, but did you have in mind the several times characters just happen to turn up in the same places as other characters? That did not faze me, because I think life is more communal and public in Europe than here in America; people really are more likely to gather at, say, the main square in town.

I'd be interested in reading that interview with Martin McDonagh. The constant references to Bruges as a shithole may have been an ironic joke. It really is a lovely city.

Speaking of Sweeney Todd, I think I'll go get my hair cut this week.

February 20, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

I suppose it's no coincidence that Johnny Depp plays the Barber after playing Edward Scissorshands earlier in his career, huh?

February 21, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

Hmm, do you think anyone had fun yelling "Cut!" on either of those movie sets?

February 21, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

"Cut! Oh, Wait!"

February 21, 2008  
Blogger Lauren said...

My favourite review for Sweeney Todd was one which pointed out that 'halfway through the film, Burton gets over his aversion to colour. Well, one colour.'

I want to know if there was any fake blood left in Hollywood afterwards!

February 21, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

Hmm, does the movie switch from black and white to color halfway in? How Wizard of Oz! I wonder how realistic the blood is, and how the filmed bloodletting compares with that from stage versions.

February 21, 2008  

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