Sunday, May 2, 2010

Trailer Mashups

[NOTE: I'm hoping I can pull in some of the tractor pull crowd with the catchy post title.]

Creating my little "Twitter Plot" Magic Flute trailer (featuring music not by Mozart) got me thinking about the humorous idea that Mozart's music, while wonderful, might not work so ideally in the movie trailer context.* Actually, it could and should, but this trailer for Kenneth Branagh's recent film version of The Magic Flute uses the music rather generically and unimaginatively.

Which made me think, if you're gonna use trailer music generically and unimaginatively, why not bring in the can't-miss big guns? And so, promising myself that I'd make very little effort other than just slapping the new soundtracks on and being sure the musical climax hits at the right time, I threw together two new versions of the Flute trailer. Here's my first effort, using the ubiquitous opening chorus from Orff's Carmina burana. It doesn't always synch up perfectly, but it does generate terrific momentum as the trailer goes along.

Still, I sensed that Orff's music might be a bit too grim for a relatively light-hearted story, and since Branagh also clearly plays up the heartwarming and uplifting elements of the plot, I realized that this was a job not for Orff and not for Mozart, but for...Randy Edelman. In my experience, this music of his (which I only recently learned was his theme from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) is THE quintessential trailer soundtrack. If my Wikipedia-based research is correct, it's been used in trailers for the likes of Forrest Gump and The Truman Show, and I'd already used a shorter version in my Twitter trailer (see previous post). Here's the Mozart/Branagh/Edelman outcome:

The music's not really my cup of tea, but it's so familiar in this context that it seems almost to guarantee a good time at the movies. I know I've heard it many, many times, though I only learned its identity after seeing it used brilliantly (at the 1:45 mark) in this wonderful "trailer for every Academy Award winning movie ever." It's also amazing to me how well it intersects with so many little moments in the Magic Flute scenes that fly by - again, the only connection that was planned was the matching of the musical climax with the movie title; everything else just kind of happens. This music is made to trail. If you're a regular reader of this blog, hopefully you'll be reminded of the kinds of meaningful random connections that can so easily happen when two unconnected entities are tossed together.

[UPDATE: If you don't feel like watching the whole thing, check out the last trailer mashup above at around the 0:48 mark. The score transition at 0:58 seems like it was made for what's happening with the visual clips. I wish I could take credit, but this was a total coincidence.]

I think this experiment may also have been influenced by this odd little video documenting the Boston Symphony Orchestra's recent fashion design contest,"Project Tchaikovsky." Though the contest was supposed to be about gowns that were inspired by the music of Tchaikovsky, the video featured on the BSO's own website uses the standard sort of Euro-beat music one might expect in any fashion show. It seems like a missed opportunity to try to make some real connections between these designs and the music, but maybe they also feared that, like Mozart, Tchaikovsky's not so great in the short-format background context.

(*By the way, this is a bit off-point, but one of the odder things I've ever heard done with Mozart's music is the a cappella version of a gorgeous woodwind Adagio that occurs in this trailer for the Keats bio-pic Bright Star.)

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