The Art of Anticipation
What's often a lot better than movies? The trailers, of course.
Sometimes, or more often than not, watching these slickly edited spots entertains us in the several minutes they appear than the hour and a half of the actual movie. It's funny to look at the early movie spots and see that it wasn't always like this... good trailers didn't really start appearing until the nineties (I think), and it really took off with the magnificent trailer to the Stallone movie, Cliffhanger.
The Cliffhanger spot was, and I believe still is, the benchmark for trailer magnificence. It was also the first film, I believe, to start the style of setting the trailer to the tune of classical music or orchestral scores.
Set to such epic music, we were treated to a hodgepodge of cuts showing the story of Walker (Sylvester Stallone at his 90s best), a rugged mountaineering expert as he has to battle what appears to be a gang of hi-tech thieves led by Qualen (John Lithgow, years and years before he shrinks to play Lord Farquaad in Shrek). The images are spectacular and intense- life and death battles, heroes running amidst hails of gunfire, helicopters crashing, thugs approaching menacingly and death-defying leaps into seeming oblivion. DAMN. After watching the CF trailer, how could you NOT want to watch this film?
Well, in the end the trailer WAS a lot better than the actual film... while Cliffhanger wasn't a horrible film in any case, it paled in comparison to the spot that preceded it. Perhaps the trailer was TOO good.
These days, epic movie commercials come one after the other. The last great trailers I've seen were ALL from the Lord of the Ring flicks. Lots of poseurs and wannabee epics in between. Maybe someday someone will revolutionize how trailers are made again. Or maybe not.
If you don't remember the greatness that was the Cliffhanger trailer, you can download the whole thing here. It's pretty big, but worth revisiting to get the ol' blood pumping again. Heh.