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As the name implies, this Reel Life
contains spoilers for the following films…
The Sixth Sense, Rush Hour, American Pie, Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, Star Wars
- The Empire Strikes Back. If
you haven't seen these films and don't want any info that may give away some
important plot point, don't read it 'til you've seen them.
My conscience is clear.
I am really getting sick of the way
advertising movies is handled. We've
replaced the manic hyperbole of fifties and sixties cinema with a newer, more
devious, 'get them in at any cost, even if you have to wreck the movie'
attitude. It doesn't seem to matter
to these companies if the adverts for their product give a totally false
impression of the film or, even worse, show you the ending.
I struggled to write a review of The
Sixth Sense that would (hopefully) get you to see it without giving
anything away. It's a damn fine
film that works because of its subtlety. The
adverts for it do a fair job of making it look like an action flick.
Oh, they don't show you anything that's not in the film, they just take a
lot of scenes where something appears to be happening and cut them together very
quickly. It's the same technique
that was used for the opening credits of Space
1999. At three cuts a
second, people turning to look at one another or putting down their coffee cups
looks rather exciting, even if it's a yawn-fest.
One of the great things about Sixth
Sense is its ambiguity. It's
not until a good way into the film that you can be one-hundred percent sure the
ghosts aren't all in the kid's imagination.
There are clues early on, but if you went in to see this film without any
foreknowledge, it'd be easy to think that the kid just has some mental/emotional
problems and that's it. The
commercials show the bloody ghosts.
Which leads to the second part of my beef, where they show you everything the
film has to offer. Star Wars Episode 1 was a classic example.
In the main advertising campaign for that film, you got to see a clip
from every single one of its major sequences.
It wasn't as though these clips were a little part of the overall
picture, the sequences were from important points.
There were no surprises left to enjoy.
They were the equivalent of having an ad for
normal">Empire Strikes Back with a shot of Darth Vader going "No, I
am your -" and cutting away. As
soon as anyone with a brain gets to the bit where Luke and Darth do the whole
'you killed my Dad thing' they know what's coming.
The adverts for The Faculty and Ransom
got it right. Show the audience
some cool moments from the film that, though it may appear otherwise, don't
actually spoil some of the shocks and surprises.
The same thing was done with American
Pie. Though the payoff for
Alysson Hannigan's running gag was in the TV commercial, there's a much bigger
and funnier punchline that follows it.
Which leads me to the adverts where they show you the end…
The ad for the Jackie Chan film, Rush
Hour, features Jackie at one point holding on to the interior
superstructure of an enormous building. He
screams that he can't hold on for much longer, they have a few more cuts then
they show him sliding off the end of a red banner held by Chris
Tucker. More random shots and Jackie is shown letting go and heading
for a big red banner. This is from
the last action sequence in the film. If
you've any sort of short term memory, you're sitting there watching the film and
the moment Jackie gets left hanging, you think "Oh this is where he falls
onto one of those banners that I can see hanging there."
The studios often used to show a bit of the ending in ads for films years ago.
But it was part of the spectacle, not part of the plot. You didn't see the wicked witch melting and they never showed
you Rosebud being… no, I could
never do that one, even with spoiler space.
So now for all you advertisers out there putting together the shorts for the
upcoming crop - a checklist
Make sure the ad is appropriate for the film. I could make Pretty Woman
look like a low budget action film without too much trouble, but it wouldn't be
right for the subject matter.
If the butler did it, don't show him sneaking up on someone with a knife
in the advert.
Don't show the damn ending.
All we're asking for is a little respect for us as filmgoers.
We're a much more sophisticated bunch these days.
I'm off to watch an Italian cowboy film from the '70s.
can often be found searching through his local video library for some little
known or forgotten cinematic gem to enrich and enliven his day.
Failing that he'll take anything that has fart jokes and gratuitous