In This Month in Trailer Music, the team at Canada-based research project Trailaurality takes a look at the musical highlights of the past month’s film and TV trailer drops. Be sure to also check out the detailed breakdowns on their website!
i’m thinking of ending things
The inimitable mind of Charlie Kaufman returns in the form of his own artistically-inflected twist on the horror genre. Unsurprisingly, the trailer follows suit in its departure from horror trailer norms. Where one might expect sudden sounds designed for the time-honoured tradition of the jump scare, instead we hear the opposite in an unnervingly persistent sound bridge in the form of a dog’s incessant collar shaking. This aural disorientation presages more obviously surreal scenery later in the trailer. Clearly, the sound design for this one does much of the heavy lifting to imbue a palpable sense of existential dread.
A lesser-known property that nonetheless has held enough of a prospective audience to capture Amazon’s attention arrives with Utopia, whose trailer refurbishes one of the most famous opera numbers of all time, “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle”—better known as the “Habanera”—from Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Incidentally, not only is the music given a dose of epic music conventions with additional brass and percussion, but we could suggest it also works as an intertextual commentary: Just as the original Habanera holds a thematic focus on the knowable nature of love, so do the protagonists in Utopia experience unknown dangers as a result of their collective admiration for a comic book series.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (Director’s Cut)
Although technically a director’s cut, the fan campaign for #TheSnyderCut was built in part on the premise that a much more wholesale change would result from original director Zack Snyder’s vision; the resulting trailer obliges wholeheartedly. Every aural trope of the typical superhero flick is cast aside here, in favour of the relative dynamic subtlety of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. This isn’t to say it’s suddenly devoid of a dramatic arc—the choir features prominently, after all—but the grizzled voice of Cohen and the pared-down instrumentation do signal restraint, with a markedly more mature meditation on the DC Universe than the cut from 2017 offered.
These are just a few of what we felt were the most interesting and / or attention-grabbing trailers released in the past month or so, especially in terms of their music and sound. Have a suggestion on what we should look at next time? Follow us @trailaurality and visit our weekly blog at trailaurality.com for even more analysis and discussion.
We offer these observations in the hope that our readers can find some distraction in this turbulent time through music and movies. Perhaps the music of the trailers we have reviewed will lead you on a virtual journey of discovery into its sources, which could open further worlds of sound to you. See you next month!