Poetry in three acts.
Although I am well aware that this trailer has been out for a few weeks now, the reason that I am choosing The Place Beyond The Pines trailer as my first trailer blog is for two reasons. The first is that I think it is a work of art. The way this trailer sucks you in while pulling on your heart-strings, making you feel for these character, while leaving you longing to see the full film is nothing short of masterful. The second is because I wanted my first trailer blog to be about a trailer produced at Mark Woollen and Associates (http://www.markwoollen.com/). I have been a long time admirer of the trailer work that they produce. They continue to set the bar very high and are not afraid to experiment with style and form in their trailers. So, it is no surprise that with the trailer for The Place Beyond The Pines, they have once again gained my admiration.
The trailer begins with a stylized sound design of a butterfly knife opening and closing while we see our main character, played by Ryan Gosling, performing daredevil stunts and show him covered in tattoos. This man is clearly our anti-hero, the man you don’t agree with, but know you can’t help but root for. They then seamlessly transition into Suicide’s song “Che”. A very cool song that has a disturbing rhythmic quality, setting the mood for a powerful drama that is going to go down a dark path. During this second act, the story is set up perfectly by providing Ryan Gosling’s character with the biggest challenge a man can face when his girlfriend/baby’s mama (Eva Mendes) asks “How are you going to take care of us?” This is immediately followed by the introduction of Bradley Cooper’s character, a cop who takes his job very seriously. By cutting to this moment after Eva’s line, we immediately know the Ryan Gosling is going to have to do something illegal that will bring Bradley Copper into his life. Simply put, brilliant story editing. The trailer then proceeds to introduce how these two men will cross each other’s paths through a bank robbery that Gosling performs, trying to do what he feels is right to provide for his family. Cooper is the man who pursues him, but Gosling get away, allowing their stories to continue. And this also sets up the rivalry between these two men and the intense chase that will inevitably make them rivals. The hero and the anti-hero. The good guy and the bad guy. Both just trying to do what is right.
In the second part of the second act of this trailer we get a music shift to a beautiful piece of piano music from Mike Patton’s score of the film. At this point the whole tempo and intensity of the trailer shift to a more serious and somber tone. The copy (title cards) perfect weaves in to emphasize the power of the imagery we see and to help us to truly understand what it is we are seeing and it’s importance to the story…
One Moment Defines Your Life - Gosling’s longing to support his family and give his child all the opportunities that he never got will drive him down a path of crime. This copy is relatable to all of us, as any one thing can and will change our paths in life forever.
One Decision Becomes Our Legacy - We see Cooper and his fellow cops find Eva’s place and the stolen money. Cooper doesn’t get his man, but he know who he is. But then, he faced with a moral decision when his fellow officers decide to split the money instead of turning it in. While Gosling’s character’s main influence to turn to crime is the need to do provide for his son. We see that Cooper’s main influence is to do what is right and not jeopardize his moral code. And, as a man, a legacy is a very important thing and sometimes the hardest decisions of our lives will define that legacy.
One Place… Is Where It All Collides - A masterful piece of copy that let’s us know these men are going to follow the path that they feel is right, but that following this path will inevitably lead these men into trouble. Bradley Cooper turns in the taken cash, causing conflict of his fellow officers, ala Serpico. While Gosling wants to push the envelope and wants to do the impossible task of 2 robberies in one day. Both men make life altering decisions that have potential to cause more harm than good and ramping up the intense conflict of this trailer, while the music conjures up emotions that make you feel for and relate to both men in their different, yet similar situations.
The third act of this trailer is done in montage and accolades. Everything that needed to be said has already been said, so the trailer lets the story play out in imagery to let the viewer into the situations that are going to occur throughout he film, yet not giving enough away to ruin the film for anyone. If anything, they have taken what will most likely be a very complex movie into the human condition on opposite sides of the spectrum and keep it very simple and relatable to all of us who have ever had to compromise ourselves for the greater good or someone we love (which I think applies to everyone). But, in this third act one thing is clear, we are going to be taken for a roller coaster ride of emotions and sacrifice that we hope will end well, but judging by the last line in the trailer, it will not. And by providing accolades by well-respected critics, we know that we are not going to be disappointed with this film.
In every trailer that gets made, one can only hope and pray that there is a line that is powerful enough and relevant enough to the film to leave a lasting impression on the viewer while wrapping up the story in a perfectly eloquent bow. This trailer has that line… “If you ride like lightning. You’re gonna crash like thunder.” What a perfect exclamation on a perfect trailer. Mark Woollen and Associates… You continue to astound me. Please keep up the amazing work.