Analysis of ‘Gladiator’ Trailer

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Trailers are an integral part of the film industry in modern day. We see film trailers every day when we watch television or venture out to see a film at the cinema and are instantly interested to see the latest releases. They promote films to the public in order to entice them and attract their attention. Trailers often include clips of the movie and present the genre of the film. When a distribution company releases a film trailer they target a certain group of people hoping that they will be the ones who take time and money to travel to the cinema.

These target audiences can be very broad or sometimes just little collections of people. In this essay I will be analysing the film trailer for ‘Gladiator’ and will be explaining how the different techniques involved in producing the trailer make it effective and entertaining. Gladiator was an extremely successful film in 2000 showing how effective the trailer was in attracting people’s attention. Its distribution companies were Dreamworks and Universal, two tremendously well known and successful organisations; this shows just how large-scale and expensive Gladiator was.

Gladiator is a collection of many varied genres which make it appeal to so many different kinds of people. These genres are action, adventure, drama and historical epic: evidently all these are individually appealing, combined they are even more so. Gladiator also has many Unique Selling Points, the clearest one being the director, Ridley Scott. People all around the world follow his work and would go to the film just for that reason without knowing about the film. Other USPs would be the main theme of the film, war, because people in the public will enjoy and want to see these kinds of films more than others.

Also, the fact that it is a historical epic will attract the eye of the public therefore making it a very influential USP. The film has a target audience of adults and older teens but appeals to a very broad range of different people. There are a fantastic amount of techniques which I analysed in the film trailer which make it very effective in advertising the film to the audience. Firstly, the way that the trailer reveals the plot without any voiceover is very intelligently done. Tag lines are placed between each scene of the trailer telling the audience the very brief outline of Maximus’ life and what he has to overcome and defeat.

The trailer relies on the cleverly written commentary to entice the audience and convey a dramatic feel to each separate part of the trailer. The tag lines are not long sentences, they are not hard to understand or read quickly, they are short but catchy hints for the audience to relate upon. Most of the tag lines are only a few words long such as: “the general” and “who became a slave”. These are well chosen lines and will guarantee that the audience will be attracted to the tag lines and to see the film to find out the true depths of the commentary.

Also, the trailer relies upon the clips within the short film to suggest different parts of the plot. For example after the tag line “who became a slave” a clip is shown of Maximus in a row of slaves dressed in rags and looking weak and powerless; this shows the audience what happens to Maximus in a large part of the film but does not give away too much as to ruin the film all together. The effectiveness of the trailer is also justified by the sound effects used. Firstly, the sound effects are chosen very well as they convey a sense of war and battle, the main theme of Gladiator.

There is a chanting of “Maximus, Maximus…! ” at the beginning of the trailer when Maximus enters a coliseum showing his success and his popularity which makes the audience excited and builds tension. The chanting shows the audience a different side to the film which entices them and draws their attention instantly. Another sound effect that adds to the war and battle themes of the trailer is the clashing of swords creating a crisp, high pitched noise which puts a focus on the themes within the audience.

This technique of using background noises and sounds to convey the themes of the film and capture the audience’s imagination is used very well throughout the Gladiator trailer and creates tension making the whole experience more exciting and exhilarating. A voiceover is not used in the trailer for Gladiator. This works to the advantage of the trailer as a whole to get the audience’s full attention and allow them to focus wholly on the tag lines, dialogue and exciting clips from the film itself.

It is a clever idea not used by many trailers which works extremely well with the theme and mood of the whole short film. The dialogue used in the trailer is used in moderation very wisely with only a few lines from the motion picture being shown in the short film. The main part of dialogue used is that of Russell Crowe, who plays Maximus, saying “in this life or the next I will have my vengeance”; this is evidently a very large part to the plot which is supported by many different story lines and will therefore tempt the audience to see the whole film.

Using the dialogue so minutely means that the audience concentrate purely on the clips of the film and the catchy tag lines meaning that they will understand the plot increasingly and be progressively more interested in what is said and what the film entails. The music plays an enormous part in creating an effective and thoroughly exciting trailer for the production, Gladiator. The music is split into different parts according to where you are in the trailer and reflects all the other effects happening on screen.

All the music stems from the never ending drum beat which is in place from the very beginning of the trailer before anything visual occurs. This drum beat is very influential in setting the mood and scene for the whole trailer and gives the immediate impression of war and battle to the audience therefore creating a dramatic atmosphere; all these first features of the music entice the audience instantly therefore making it entertaining and increasingly effective.

The music reflects the mood of the whole trailer very effectively, for example when Maximus is a slave the music is slow and conveys a sad atmosphere whereas when Maximus is a gladiator the music drastically changes and creates an exciting and dramatic atmosphere for the audience; this technique is cleverly used to convey the different themes of the film within the audience. It creates drama and tension and deeply encourages the themes of war and battle.

The tension created throughout the music adds massively the mood and pace of the trailer therefore meaning that the trailer has a much larger effect on the audience. It tells a story in itself and combined with the visual and sound effects this makes incredibly successful music. The visual effects used within the trailer for Gladiator also enhance the effectiveness of the short film. Included in the trailer, as well as the commentary and music, are actual clips from the film itself giving the audience a taster to the mood of the film and who each character is.

They show the most meaningful and exciting clips from the film to entice the audience, for example they show Maximus as a general, a slave and fighting as a gladiator; these are the three most important events in the film but are very broad within the plotline so the audience do not find out too much and are heavily intrigued. Visually the fighting scenes are the most exciting by far; the audience will be captured by the fast yet flowing scenes instantly creating tension and exhilaration.

One of the most exciting scenes is that of Maximus fighting faced with a ferocious tiger in the historical coliseum. This instantaneously draws the audience’s attention creating a very exciting atmosphere and one that is full of tension and anxiety to see what will happen next. All of the visual effects make the trailer tremendously dramatic and show the audience vital parts of the film; they are the building blocks to attracting the eye of possible film goers, if they like the look of a film they will want to see more.

Colour is a huge part of the trailer, without it nothing would look as exciting or capture the eye of the audience especially when faced with a Roman epic. The colour of the Gladiator trailer continues the historical Roman theme with the amount of gold and orange, classic historical colours from that era, involved in the different scenes. They generate pictures in people’s minds and capture their attention without fail throughout the trailer showing the effectiveness of this particular technique. The colours also change within the time of the trailer to conjure different atmospheres and reflect the mood of the trailer.

For example, when Maximus is a slave the colours are quite dull and are not very electrifying at all whereas when Maximus is fighting in the coliseum and becoming extremely successful they change and become bright and eye capturing. Another example of when colour is used very intelligently is on the commentary throughout the trailer: the white writing on a black background is extremely simple yet the contrast produced by those two colours directly emphasises what the tag lines are saying making the trailer even more effective.

With simplicity brings drama and tension in this area of the film trailer. The speed of the trailer reflects the mood and music of the short film for the audience. It is used very simply throughout the trailer but very successfully as it makes the trailer flow well and is in keeping with what happens in the plot line. For example speed is used very cleverly when Maximus is a slave and the speed of camera movement and shot change are very slow whereas when Maximus fights in the coliseum the shots change extremely quickly and the camera movement increases in speed.

These speed changes capture the audience’s attention and also show them the excitement of the film thoroughly. The plotline, music and Maximus’ life is reflected in the speed of the trailer therefore giving hints to the audience throughout and making the trailer even more effective. Throughout the trailer for the huge motion picture, Gladiator, a huge amount of camera shots, camera angles and camera movements are used to create different points of view and produce movement in the trailer to catch the eye of the audience.

Firstly, there are numerous different shots used which convey different feelings to the audience and get the audience more involved in the trailer itself. The long shot is used at various moments in the trailer; the long shot is one where you can see the subject of the shot and their surroundings so you can see exactly what position they are in. There are two long shots in the trailer which I feel are two of the most important: a shot of the coliseum with the crowd in the surroundings, Maximus jumping from flames.

Both these long shots convey the epic feel of the film incredibly well by showing just how large scale and dramatic the film is. In the long shot where we see Maximus jumping through huge billowing flames it creates the thought of Maximus effectively succeeding through the hard times and leaping into the new successful times in his life; this gives us a clue to the plot of the film as well. Both the shots catch the eye of the audience instantly therefore making them extremely effective in the trailer and convincing people that they should see the film.

The mid shot is one where you can see from the waist upwards of the subjects and can vaguely see their surroundings. There are hundreds of mid shots in the trailer because they are a very effective way of showing the audience all they need to know and make them feel as if they can relate to the people in the shot as they are that little bit closer to the action. Again, there are two shots which are significant in what they tell the audience about Maximus and the situations he is in. Firstly, one of the most meaningful shots in the whole trailer is the first shot showing Maximus as a general walking between two rows of his soldiers.

We see him in his glory, at the top, where he wanted to be. He wanted to be powerful and noble and in this shot this is what we see; it is the start of his downfall and from this shot we can see just how significant the downfall is to Maximus. Another mid shot is when we see Maximus taking his place in the coliseum before a gladiator battle. It focuses wholly on Maximus and what he is about to embark upon in the vast arena; we can feel how he is feeling and therefore become more involved in the trailer and want to know more.

The shots add to the drama of the whole trailer because it varies what views we are given and therefore entices us into the trailer and eventually the film. The close up shot is a very effective shot used throughout the trailer for Gladiator. A close up is where you can only see the face of a subject on the screen and cannot see their surroundings very well at all. In the Gladiator trailer we see two significant and meaningful. The first is that of Maximus pulling his golden gladiator mask over his face, the second is the emperor shouting in a characters face extremely loudly; both are extremely dramatic in their different ways.

The shot with Maximus pulling down his mask in the coliseum is incredibly dramatic due to how the audience knows that this is his aim and being a successful gladiator is what he wants to do and he will win. It shows his confidence, power and glory which creates tension and anxiety in the audience. The close up shot brings the audience closer to the action and the drama involved in the shot which allows them to relate well to the character and feel what he is feeling.

The shot in which you see the emperor exceptionally angry with one of the characters in the film is very dramatic because of the volume of noise and how close we are to the situation. We can feel the anger from the emperor and the terror from the other character due to the close up shot which produces an extreme amount of tension and excitement within the audience. The camera angles also play a huge part in the presentation of the Gladiator trailer and help create tension in the plot and show the audience things that they would not usually look at with normal camera angles.

Firstly, the low angle, where the camera looks up at a subject, is used very well within the trailer, it is essential to use the low angle to produce varied view points and this is done successfully when the low angle is used in the short film. There is an extremely significant low angle in the latter stages of the trailer where we look up at Maximus in amour and looking powerful and proud. The low angle gives the impression that Maximums has risen from his depths of depression and is now superior and important.

This whole effect adds tension, drama and excitement to the whole shot just because of how the camera has perceived him. The high angle, where the camera looks down on a subject, is also applied in the trailer productively. We see the Roman theme bloom when looking at the high angle shots because they show just how huge the empire was and everything that was placed in it. One shot is where the camera focuses down on a coliseum; this looks incredible due to how we are shown the building, it is so large scale and significant that you cannot look anywhere else but the coliseum.

The high angle shot emphasises objects and subjects so as to add tension and drama and show the audience just how large things are. This technique is extremely effective because of how exciting it makes the trailer and how it shows the audience different views very simply. Throughout the trailer for Gladiator the eye level shot, where the camera is on the same level as its subject, is the dominant shot. These shots are used to often because of how effective and simple they are in the way that they put the audience in the situation on screen and they add drama to each scene.

They interact more with the audience because they can see right into the eyes of a character and feel what they are feeling whether it be fear or happiness. In this particular trailer the eye level shot is extremely effective because Maximus is a tremendously dramatic character and when we look into his eyes we can relate to what he is experiencing in his circumstances. The eye level shot allows the audience to experience the true depths of the trailer and helps them to understand the drama and tension involved.

The camera movements also add greatly to the effectiveness of the trailer because they bring a new perspective to each situation. Firstly, pan is a very productive camera movement; it is when the camera moves from left to right. The most significant pan shot in the trailer is that of the row of slaves waiting to be sold. The pan shot shows us every slave very gradually and emphasises how powerless, weak and tired they all are. The shot adds drama to the whole scene because of the movement it brings to the slave shot. It is effective because it is emotional, powerful and produces great drama and tension throughout the audience.

The tilt camera movement is also used in the trailer for Gladiator; this is where the camera moves up and down to show the audience more of a scene in a more creative way than just shifting shots completely. The most meaningful tilt camera movement is when we see the coliseum from above and the camera moves downwards. This shot purely shows how huge and large scale the whole production and building it is. It shows the audience how much money and time has been put into the production and therefore they will feel that because there has been so money spent on the film that it will be top class to go and see as well.

The mood of the trailer is conveyed through all the techniques that I have described previously; they all add to the mood of the trailer, some more so than others. The whole mood of the trailer is quite serious and extremely dramatic. Maximus’ character is very serious and his whole life is dramatic so a lot of the atmosphere is created through his characteristics. There is a sense of danger and excitement throughout the whole trailer due to Maximus’ rise and fall in Rome.

Every technique to create the mood of the trailer joins to produce a very dramatic and exciting trailer and therefore entices the audience to go and see the full film. In conclusion, every technique used by the trailer makers combines perfectly to create an effective film trailer that will persuade the public to go and see Gladiator. From the music to the different camera angles everything is needed to have the all round effect on the audience. The blend of some of the features is very intelligently done as each aspect of the film reflects one another; for example the music reflects the mood and the speed reflects the music.

Everything interlocks flawlessly within the trailer therefore making the audience excited and intrigued to see the whole film. The short film tells the brief outline of the film making sure that the audience do not know too much; this is done very well as the information given is quite vague in parts yet still attracts the audience to the plotline, action and tension of the full length motion picture. Stemming from just one simple drum beat a trailer is formed of the highest quality producing drama, excitement and tension in only a few short minutes.

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