The trailer begins with the camera off-centre at a low angle facing the protagonist, this off-centre angle represents the idea that things are out of proportion and so something needs to be solved. In the mise en scene, we see a school bus. This sets the scene and shows that one of the primary locations is at a school and so the character in the shot is likely to be a student.
This shot shows many people –both students, and teachers- going in and out of what we can assume is the school by way of continuity. The low angle in this shot provides an air of mystery to the audience; the school is made to look grand and intimidating through the angle of the camera. These first two shots help follow the codes and conventions of the paranormal aspect of the genre.
Here, a long shot is used to distinguish the protagonist from the other students. Because he is in the centre of the frame, the audience will notice him first. Also, the facial expression of the protagonist is quite dark and, once again, mysterious. This again meets the typical connotations of the paranormal/thriller genre. This shot invites the audience to question the thought processes of the main character, this spark of curiosity draws them into the trailer.
This high angle shot is very important to the trailer and further pushes the audience to become more curious as to what “it” was that this person has done. The high angle emphasizes the higher power that surrounds the characters in the movie and makes these characters seem weak and vulnerable. Also, the way they’re standing around it, suggests that they fear the scene they’re in.
The mid-shot in this scene puts further emphasis on the paranormal aspect of this genre as it clearly shows the protagonist with some sort of unique ability. The confused facial expression on the character provokes further curiosity within the audience. The character is looking into a mirror and of course, the mirror is the camera and thus creates another mysterious illusion as it creates the effect that someone or something is watching the character. The wall tiles and towels promote the surface realism as these are the common objects a bathroom would contain.
This shot is another mid-shot and more-or-less mirrors the previous one in the way that the character is posed. This is done to provoke a sense of shock within the audience due to its ghastly form. The reason it strikes the same pose as the previous shot is to juxtapose the two characters and by comparison makes this character seem more shocking. This is the first time in the trailer that we are introduced to this character and is designed to look abnormal to highlight the paranormal genre.
The shots that follow are all used to portray the idea of the paranormal / thriller genre. This is done with the iconography of the “time travel” book in the second picture, the mysterious font of the text in the first picture, and in the two remaining screenshots, the protagonist is emitting some sort of bubble-like trail. Once again the eerie facial expression on the character provokes curiosity as to what his motives are.
This high angle shot of a woman crouched down with fear is significant. The height of the angle shows her vulnerability and her worried facial expression emphasizes this. Feminists such as Naomi Wolf would be against using a shot like this as it presents women as vulnerable, weak and in dire need of a strong male in order to be rescued. In most of the trailers that I have analysed, it is a common theme to use a female figure as a victim in distress. Although feminists would condemn portraying women in this way, it has become the social norm to accept this. Being that feminists are a minority in terms of a target audience, I would certainly consider following this theme rather than challenging it.
This close up is used to identify the significance of the object in the mise en scene. The iconography of the knife represents the thriller aspect of the genre. The dark and gloomy surroundings show that this knife is being used for something criminal rather than a kitchen utensil. Also, the sound behind this scene is of a mysterious and monotonous drone that increases in tempo as the trailer goes on. This is done to provide a crescendo of tension within the audience.
At this point in the trailer, the music has built to its crescendo and then the title “Donnie Darko” appears in the same mysterious, paranormal font as before. This is the point where the audience is most tense and depending on their interests will want to watch the full film.
the next series of shots involve the same font displaying the actors name followed by a shot in which the appropriate actor is in. Using Vladimir Propp’s character theory, the characters used in these shots would represent a certain style or motive such as the hero which would usually be the protagonist in the movie e.g. “Jake Gyllenhaal” and the princess and the donor/helper which would be one of the female characters below, because of the youth and beauty of the 2nd character, it is likely that she will play the role of the princess in Propp’s theory.
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