Typically when we talk about trailers we parse out whether the editors were skilled enough at teasing the audience while leaving the story to unfold when the film actually comes out. Or we complain that they’re a 2.5 minute reduction of the entire plot, or that they’re setting up a bait-and-switch campaign rather than selling the film for what it really is. But rarely would I be tempted to discuss trailer editing as an art unto itself, but I was recently reminded of this beguiling trailer & felt compelled to share it. It’s one that shouldn’t work, it does not dwell on the story, merely gives you different moods from the film and teases imagery, it mashes up rock music with instrumentals more in-keeping with the film’s score and modernist vocal works by Jonathan Elias (“Hope” from the incredible “The Prayer Cycle”) and yet it does. I remember first seeing this trailer online months before its release and playing it over and over, it’s funny thinking about it now considering YouTube really wasn’t around and certainly wasn’t used for official promotion purposes then and Apple Trailers/Quicktime certainly weren’t capable of 1080p (that is even if we did have the internet speeds to handle that, which we didn’t), my how things change in just 8 years.
Kingdom of Heavenis one of my favorite films, and thanks to being gutted by the studio in the wake of the flopping of Oliver Stone’s Alexander it’s one that was exhibited to most of the world as much more simplistic and messy than it actually was. Thankfully Ridley Scott’s infinitely more sophisticated director’s cut was restored on video, but the phrase “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” is around for a reason (bait-and-switch campaigns targeting the wrong audiences also ruin many films’ reputations, it drives me up the wall). Ostensibly a film depicting the crusades, the film is more a allegory on modern day Middle East relations and the cycle of violence that continues to this day in much the way fellow 2005 release Munich served to teach a similar way for today than to merely stage traumatic violent events. It’s also quite possibly the most fully realized and lived-in feeling depiction of a period/past location the production crafts of this film are as criminally underrated as the film as a whole left second fiddle to Scott’s more crowd-rousing but less deep Gladiator.