Spielberg Engineers My Tears

In continuing with the movie bent DWG has been on of late,  I have a few thoughts about the trailer below, which aired before the Marilyn screening I wrote about last week:

This seems to be the longest trailer in the history of the world.  How, you ask, could that be considering it is under 3 minutes, a completely normal length in world time?

I’ll explain.  I’m talking about thought-time.

It is really unusual to find a trailer that walks the fine line of being totally nonsensical while simultaneously giving away the entire plot of the film it advertises.

See initially, the “War Horse” trailer appears to be for several different movies. One of these movies is about a horse and a boy, one is about a war, and there seems to be some indication that there is a movie about a lovelorn girl somewhere in there.  The trailer gives no indication of any sort of cohesive story that might bind these disparate elements because it is just a series of random shots of people, animals and explosions.  It feels so long because it makes no sense and three minutes of non-sense-making is excessive.

Still, the Spielberg-ish overly-cinematic music and presence of an animal tell you all that you need to know.

Between the music, the idyllic pasture, the boy, the horse, and the soldiers, we can assume this is a movie is about a boy who loves his horse then finds himself heartbroken when said horse is conscripted by a goofy-looking stage-army.  Then the horse breaks free because of it’s wild and heroic nature, and finds the boy using its killer sense of direction and daring good fortune.  Naturally, during his darkest hour, when he imagines he cannot miss his horse any more, a wise old man will tell the boy, “You have to look forward or you’ll never get home.”  That’s what that is about.

Once you’ve done all the assuming that the cliched shots in this trailer telegraph, you’ve seen the entire movie.  A lengthy, formulaic, predictable movie full of irritating platitudes.  A movie that is long in thought-time because it is so easy to figure out and yet so long to sit through.

This trailer also successfully telegraphs one more thing.  Tania described the situation perfectly (and then I editorialized): It’s the type of film that you WILL cry at twice, but your second round of tears will be because you hate yourself.    The emotional roller coaster you can expect to be put on will be exhausting, and by extension just the thought of this movie is exhausting.

For myself, I say this:  I can already tell that “War Horse” will be an entirely plot-driven movie.  The boy, soldiers, and wise old man are going to be caricatures.  The horse is going to be a horse.  The war is going to be the tension.  This has all been engineered to make me feel certain ways.  This is why I hate movies with plots.

And if plots have to exist, Spielberg, can you just make ET again?


On a semi-related note: Normally any amount of dramatic trailer music makes me cry.  I sometimes even cry at AT&T commercials.  This is a genetic condition that afflicts my entire family.

Despite the clear signal to cry at the end of this trailer, however, I found myself unable to stop laughing.  That is because, once you’ve realized you are watching a trailer that is a parody of a trailer about the cheesiest possible thing in the world, you are rewarded with the hilariously overdone sunset silhouette action shot of the war horse.  Sort of like a signal that you were correct and about where the trailer was going and a reward for being a person with a great sense of humor.  Highly recommend watching the ENTIRE thing for that moment.


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