Media Coursework on the trailer of “Cruel Intentions”

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“Cruel Intentions” was a huge success mainly due to its ways of promotion and marketing. Without the use of trailers, reviews, soundtracks and interview etc. the public wouldn’t want to risk paying a fair few pounds to see a film they might not enjoy. The main promotion tactic is definitely the use of trailers. Trailers are a very effective marketing device as they’re able to show the setting, genre, stars, props, costumes, narrative and any special effects, in as little as one minute, that they feel will entice a large audience.

Many of the things shown in the trailers are Unique Selling Points, USP’s, which show off the best factors of the film in order to make the film more attractive to a larger audience. They give the film an image that no film has used before. It gives it a standard so to speak, which the audience will expect the whole film to keep to, therefore making it more captivating. Cruel Intentions has been produced with a mixed Genre of romance, comedy and teenage drama, which makes the film very unique in its own way.

Its basic plot gives the romantic and teenage drama sense, but the characters lines and actions have been used to bring humour into the film, to weaken the sense of romance as romantic films are known to not pull in a huge audience. The basic plot of the film is that Kathryn (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Sebastian (Ryan Phillippe), two cunning, wealthy, teenage stepsiblings, come up with a bet consisting of seduction and betrayal. Sebastian bets that he can seduce the virginal Annette Hargrove (Reese Witherspoon) before the beginning of the school term.

Annette had recently publicly announced in a popular magazine that she is intending on staying a virgin until she finds her true love and so this is why Sebastian finds it a challenge but why Kathryn sees the bet as being secure for her. The terms are that if Sebastian fails Kathryn gets his treasured 1956 Jaguar Roadster. If he succeeds then he gets the thing that “he has been obsessing about since the day their parents got married”, a night with Kathryn.

Whilst this tale of seduction is taking place, Kathryn is carrying out her own immoral scheme to make the innocent Cecile into a known tramp in order to humiliate Curt Reynolds, who had recently dumped Kathryn for Cecile, unbeknownst to Cecile. Due to the films large amount of references to sex and mild scenes of sex, violence and drugs, it has been classified with the age certificate of 15. Due to this age certificate the trailer for Cruel Intentions will only be shown fully at films with the age certificate of 15 or over, or it will be edited so it can be shown at a 12 film.

It will also only be able to be shown after the watershed on TV but these restrictions wont be a large problem for the film as anyone unable to see these trailers would more than likely not be old enough to watch it, or be interested in watching it anyway as it contains slight scenes of sex and drugs etc. that they would not enjoy watching. “Cruel Intentions” has been made with a plot that would only actually appeal to the age group of 14 to around 50 so this age certificate doesn’t particularly effect the audience that its aimed to.

This is a large age group but this is due to the way in which the film is easy to relate to. Even though the story plot is very outrageous if it was to happen in real life, many of the facts in the film are much like happenings in nowadays society. The film deals with topics such as sex, drugs, popularity, jealousy and love, all factors that we come into in everyday life. The films packed with so many issues that it’s hard to find someone in this large age group that couldn’t relate to it, especially the teens.

Teenagers go through phases of being concerned with their popularity, having queries about sex, coming into contact with drugs, (whether its by themselves or friends) and definitely start experiencing the emotions of jealousy and love. This film shows how it’s normal for these things to happen, and to how to deal with them or how not to deal with them in most cases. The story of how Kathryn plots revenge due to her jealousy of Curt and Cecile, and that it turns out very wrong, shows that revenge is not the way to go.

Also the way that Sebastian risks his reputation, of being a bad boy, to be with someone who he loves, who has a totally different personality from him, shows that you shouldn’t be scared to show your feelings for someone just because they’re different from you and because it could ruin your reputation. It doesn’t matter what other people think of you, as long as you’re happy. Teens love to see things about real life, things they’re feeling too as it lets them know they’re not alone and very often gives them answers they’ve been looking for.

Also, the strong sense of comedy shown in the trailer appeals to the younger audience a fair bit as they’re not as mature and love a bit of stupid comedy. It appeals with the older audience also mainly due to the way it relates to real life. I feel the showing of jealousy, cunningness and intimacy shown in the trailer appeals more to the older audience. They will have experienced these feelings more and will enjoy watching them being portrayed in the film.

The evilness and cunningness shown in the trailer will definitely appeal to the older audience, as everybody likes bad guys! Especially when they’re used in this sense as it makes people interested in how things will turn out and everyone has a secret yearning to do something cunning to someone who’s hurt them and so they like to watch others do it instead of risking it themselves. All this is what the director and producers have thought about whilst making the film and have made the film to attract people in these ways.

Its hard to make a film attractive to different age groups and types of personalities but I think “Cruel Intentions” has done this extremely well mainly by the way its related to real life and this has been shown well in the trailer The trailer shows the bet, the cunningness of the stepsiblings and the intimacy between the characters and this appeals to the audience. The main USP’s of “Cruel Intentions” are its stars, soundtrack and mixed Genre. The greatest USP has got to be the main stars of the film.

One of the three main stars is Ryan Phillipe, known for his fantastic acting in the smash hit “I know what you did last summer” and Americas hit, “Studio 54”. Also there’s Sarah Michelle Gellar, known world wide for the main role in the popular TV series “Buffy the vampire slayer” and her pleasing acting in smash hit films such as “I still know what you did last summer”. And last but not least is Reese Witherspoon. Reese is best known for her glamorous acting in “Pleasantville” which gave her a reputation for the sweet but saucy actress that she is. Each main Actor/Actress has their own USP.

Ryan is the crowd puller for all the females. Any female cannot taunt his cute smile and toned body! The director has used them well to his advantage by giving him a teasing, cute and saucy role, using every aspect of Ryan Phillippe that they could. This is shown perfectly in the trailer by using many scenes of his mischievous smile and a shot of his naked body from the back, this definitely pulled in the females. Sarah Michelle Gellar has been given a role that could have no better suited her acting skills. She is known for her saucy acting and the part of Kathryn flaunted this to the maximum.

Her male fans from her huge hit TV series “Buffy the vampire slayer” would definitely be lining up to see this film as her role of Kathryn exceeds her role of Buffy and this is shown well in the trailer by scenes of her flirtatious behaviour and revealing clothes. Reese Witherspoon caught the director’s eye with her large role in the top hit film, “Pleasantville” with the showing of her large talent as an actress. Her part included changing personalities a lot of the time and this showed just how well she could act to suit any character.

Reese’s character, Annette, has the girl next door look, with the sweet and innocent personality, which has been shown well in the trailer as its the complete opposite to Sebastian and Kathryn’s characters, therefore pulling in any of the audience which haven’t already been tempted by the naughty, seductive characters of Sebastian and Kathryn. The film has been backed with a wide variety of artists and their tracks. It uses artists such as the glam rock, Bowie era, and 70’s band, Placebo, to the soulful but energetic music of Skunk Anansie, who are both featured on the successful soundtrack.

It uses music of quite a few genres to help suit everyone’s taste as to interest a larger group of people into buying the CD. The most popular song featured in the film was “coffee and TV” by Blur which was used to great effect in the trailer for the film. It was placed in the background throughout the film as it’s a comical song, has an uplifting beat but also has strong lyrics, which refer to feelings and emotions such as loneliness and distress which are some of the main emotions portrayed in the film.

The song creates a good atmosphere in the audience whilst the trailer is being shown but makes sure that the audience feel the intensity of the film as well and so it is silenced on intense moments. This is so these moments are emphasised but to make sure the audience don’t think the film is too serious, the uplifting beat of the song makes the atmosphere a bit calmer again. The soundtrack also has tracks by artists who aren’t so well known to my age group but to the older age group who are in the films target audience.

Aimee Mann was a very successful artist in the 1980’s with her extremely recognisable voice and enviable writing talents and so she is popular with the older audience. Also the track by Kirsten Barry, “ordinary life” may not be well known but is a great selling tactic. Her music is in the hip-hop genre, very popular nowadays and so if the audience are new to her music they may become very interested and buy the album in order to hear more and find out the artists name and song title.

This is a risky selling tactic as many people may not like the song enough to want to buy the album but the director, Roger Kumble, has chosen well as he has picked most of the unknown artists who specialise in the R&B genre, which is a hugely popular genre nowadays. Mixed Genres are also a risky thing to use in a film. Cruel Intentions mixed genre of teen drama, comedy and romance is a USP in its own way. Films tend to stick to one genre to make it simpler to produce and easier for the audience to get into the atmosphere of the film.

However, Cruel Intentions mixed genre worked just as well. When using a mixed genre the producers and director have to be careful not to ruin the atmosphere too much, or put too much in at once. For example, if there is a romantic scene, people will be feeling the romance and the intensity of the scene and so having a comedy scene coming straight into it can be annoying, it can mix up the atmosphere and unsettle people. Roger Kumble, however, has used a clever tactic to introduce his genres into scenes.

He has let intense scenes such as when Sebastian and Annette kiss carry on for a bit, leaving people suck in the atmosphere, feel the romance. The a few scenes later to make sure the scenes of romance are not becoming boring and making the audience fed up, he gently brings in a bit of comedy or action, such as a few scenes after the kiss, he brings in Kathryn and uses her to make the atmosphere more tense as she begins to tease Sebastian. This makes it more exciting, puts another twist in the story line and gets the audience anticipating another thing.

He uses this technique to stop the atmosphere becoming boring and to keep the audience in anticipation, never letting a storyline go on for to long. The mixed genre is shown splendidly in the trailer. Scenes have been selected that show comic, intense and romantic moments of the film. This lets the audience know the film is packed with interesting moments, that the film is not too intense but that its not a simple comedy. Selecting and editing scenes for the trailer is not just used to show the genre of the film.

It is carefully done so that USP’s are shown, the storyline is explained, characters are introduced and so the mise en scene is shown, without giving too much of the plot away. This is very hard for Cruel Intentions as it has so many different plots going on at once. It has had to be carefully edited so it does not show too much about Cecile and Ronald’s relationship, Kathryn and her plot for revenge on curt, Annette and Sebastian’s relationship and most of all the result of the bet.

If too much is given away then the audience will feel there’s no point in seeing the film but if not enough is shown then the audience will not understand the plot of the film and wont find it very interesting. They have selected scenes that show some interesting predicaments. The trailer was made with scenes that showed the sexy characters, the evil plots and the struggles to win the bet. All very interesting but definitely don’t give the plot away. They show off the deluxe, rich setting and the raunchy, posh clothing worn by the two stepsiblings.

It shows off the stars to attract more people, it shows the naughtiness of Kathryn, the cunningness of Sebastian and the innocence of Annette. All these things combine to make a fast moving, raunchy and definitely interesting trailer. The scenes selected are used to represent the film as being action packed, naughty, funny and dramatic film all at once. The way the scenes have been put together with quick shots and lines from the characters leading into one another makes it seem more action packed than it is as there is a lot of speech and different emotions displayed in a very short amount of time.

The speeches used are mainly from Sebastian and Annette in order to explain the plot as much as possible. Lines such as “I’m completely infatuated with her” by Sebastian and then Annette saying, “I thought we were just going to be friends” easily shows how Sebastian had difficulty in getting Annette. It shows how he became “infatuated with her” but she just wanted to be “friends”. This is a large part of the story, how he fell for Annette but she never felt it back for a while and it has all been shown easily with two lines from the movie. This is how lines have been selected.

To show how the characters were feeling and help to show the plot in a smaller amount of time as possible. Cruel Intentions trailer is mostly made up of lines from the film. These lines display two people’s opinions such as the one I just stated and tell the story by themselves. This was easy to do for Cruel Intentions as a lot of the speeches made in the film were about what was going on, Sebastian telling Kathryn how he felt for Annette, Kathryn teasing Sebastian about him not being able to get Annette, and Annette saying to her Sebastian straight out about how she feels.

When lines describing these things are put together its easy for the audience to see the plot. Sebastian wants Annette, Kathryn believes he wont get her and tries to put him down, and Annette tries to stick to what she believes in and refuses to give in to Sebastian’s offers. All this information is given out so easily by a few lines that Cruel Intentions didn’t really need a voice over to help explain the plot. In most films a voice over is used to state the basic plot, it sets an atmosphere by the tone and emotion of the voice.

In Cruel Intentions a voice over is not used until the end where it says in a deep, quite harsh voice “In the game of seduction there is only one rule, never fall in love” This voice is used to show how serious this rule is meant to be to them, that seduction is a game to them. In between “there is only one rule” and “never fall in love” a line from the film by Sebastian says “why can’t we be together” and then Annette says “because I don’t trust myself with you”. This shows how Sebastian struggled in seducing Annette but how Annette was finding it hard to resist the temptation.

It has been placed in between the rule of seduction as what Sebastian has said goes against the rule. The voice is quite cold, it makes the audience feel that the film is quite serious, it also adds mystery from how it states the rule of seduction in such a serious way but the lines heard put it across that Sebastian has broken it. This is how its so mysterious, the voice over says one thing but the lines from the film say another and the audience are wondering if Sebastian has broken the rule of seduction, which has been made out by the voice over to be a very important rule.

The voice over also reads out “Cruel Intentions” This makes the title of the film stand out so that the audience notice it. As the voice over isn’t used much it doesn’t create a huge atmosphere, just a slight bit of suspension in the audience but the lines from the film take the voice-over’s place and create an atmosphere of tension as they’re dying to know who won the bet, whether Annette was successfully seduced or whether the smarmy Kathryn got her way.

These questions that the audience are asking and all the other things I have mentioned through this analysis of the Cruel Intentions trailer are what have made this trailer successful. It’s got the audience wondering so much and got them fascinated by the characters, mise en scene, genres and storyline that they will have been persuaded into going to see the film. The trailers mission has been accomplished!

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