Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Tale of Two Trailers

In the last few days, Warner Brothers has released two trailers for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie, which opens on July 13.

The first one, created and shown internationally, was a good trailer, full of plot development, scenery shots, special effects, and lots of dramatic action and dialogue. After watching it, I am very excited to see that this movie looks excellent.

Today, the second trailer, intended for the United States audience was released. It was the second U.S. HP:OotP trailer but, like the international trailer, it is full of drama, excitement, effects, and gives a good taste of what promises to be the best, most thoughtfully-crafted HP movie yet.

However, there are some interesting differences between these two trailers and I thought, since I've got this forum and everything, I would point out some bits to you, the disinterested reader.

First, you should watch the trailers. Both are the same length--2 minutes and 12 seconds. I have thoughtfully loaded the International Trailer over on WWYG?! Omnimedia.

. . .

Got it? Looks good, right?

Now, remember what you have seen and watch the American trailer. It has also been loaded onto WWYG? Omnimedia for your viewing pleasure.

. . .

Pretty similar, yeah?

In fact, the first minutes of each trailer is almost entirely identical. (I can't claim that to be true, since I haven't done an exhaustive comparison, but they are darned close, no matter what.)

But it's in the second minute that thing diverge in an interesting way. The dominant theme of the International Trailer is Harry and his friends rising up to challenge the repressive regime of Umbridge, who has taken over control of Hogwarts and is issuing decrees to make everyone and everything satisfy her desire for Ministry of Magic -approved Order. This theme is reinforced by the intercutting of Filch pounding a nail into the wall to hang one of Umbridge's many Decrees at the entrance to the Great Hall.

This hammering is nowhere evident in the American trailer. While you do get a view of the wall full of proclamations, the American trailer focuses on more dialogue with Harry teaching his classmates to resist, reinforcing Harry's acceptance as a leader and a more publicly-visible hero. It also emphasizes the slight romance between Harry and Cho Chang and makes Hermione a bit more prominent. (She has more dialogue and is more visually singled out in the American version.)

It seems to me that the International trailer is playing on a history of repression and struggle against an unfeeling government that has a much more resonant history in other parts of the world that is true in the U.S. Similarly, the U.S. trailer relies on the myth of the individual hero, standing up to lead others to The Truth.

Both are valid themes that are found in the books and have equal place in the telling of the OotP story. I just thought it was interesting how that difference was evident in the trailers themselves.

(Big thanks to The Leaky Cauldron for the original links to both movie trailers.)

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