Loved this short retrospective on movie trailer audio tropes from the past few decades. Movie buffs will have no problem immediately hearing terms like:
- Deep synthetic bass drone (Inception Horn, anyone?)
- Vaguely ethnic wail (popularized by Hans Zimmer in his Gladiator score)
- The omniscient baritone voice-over (most famously Don LaFontaine)
Until reading the article I hadn't realized how much the Don LaFontaine era had receded.
The silly voice-overs of the past, meanwhile, have mostly been banished to the ghettos of sitcom television and animated fare. Today’s action movies—with pretensions to deep-thinking, and filled with rueful and angry superheroes or geopolitical conflicts that attempt to mirror the fragmented realities of the War on Terror world—demand a more serious treatment, and those thunderous musical cues seem handed down to remind us that even frivolous popcorn movies aren’t supposed to merely be fun anymore. The trailer has been elevated to a minor art form unto itself, and the auteurs behind them seem to have little patience for the gimmicks of the past. Yet one day, hopefully soon, the “duhhhhn” will be gone, abandoned for the next trailer innovation, and will be remembered as a kind of dated sonic cheese. It may come to seem as absurd as the idea of an eighties-style “Inception” trailer: “If you want to hide top-secret corporate information from these guys, you better not fall asleep. This summer, Leonardo DiCaprio is turning the world upside down in this non-stop thrill ride. ‘Inception’: Life is but a dream.” Or as incongruous as an eighties movie trailer backed by the bass drone.
There's also the trailer trope of the one final piece of debris flying at the screen after the title card, the most vivid example of which is the trailer for Twister, with a tractor tire hurtling at the windshield.
Personally, I'm fond of the wordless trailer, which seems like a higher form of the art given the increased level of difficulty. Think of Alien.
Little Children came close to being wordless, and its cleverness is in its almost abstract layering, making it feel like it was remixed into a trailer for a horror movie (which, in a way, it is, with its deep focus on suburban ennui, mid-life crisis, and infidelity).