Before we talk about Dunkirk, I want you to imagine, if you will, that it is the year 1979. You’re sitting in a dark movie theater patiently awaiting the start of the movie you paid $4 for a ticket to see (excuse me?!). You’ve got your popcorn, your large soda, and you’re ready to see yourself a movie. Before you can indulge in the feature presentation, however, you get the pleasure of seeing the coming attractions. As the lights dim a dull hush falls over the audience. Everyone is ready to see what movies could be coming out in the following months.
All of a sudden the beginning notes of a classic John Williams score fill the theater and the screen fills with the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back logo. “HOLY SHIT!” you exclaim, as you throw your bucket of popcorn in the air in excitement. There is thunderous applause as complete anarchy erupts in the theater. You dump your soda on the heads of the children in front of you because, well, why not? You’re about to witness footage from a new Star Wars film.
As quickly as the anarchy begins, it suddenly stops as everyone settles into their seats to let their brains feast on the delicious eye candy that is the Star Wars trailer. There are quick cuts of Luke, Han, Leia, and all of the characters you have come to know and love on the screen and the John Williams music makes everything 10,000 times more dramatic.
Suddenly, though, the music quiets down and the evil Darth Vader is at the forefront of the scene. He looks down at Luke Skywalker who seems to be holding on for his life. Darth Vader reaches out a menacing gloved hand and says “I am your father!” The trailer cuts to black and is clearly over. You sit there, stunned and unable to form a coherent thought. “What the FUCK did Darth Vader just say?” you ask the soda covered child sitting in front of you (his weeping makes it difficult for him to answer). Did they really just spoil something like THAT in a trailer for a hugely anticipated movie?
That isn’t how it actually went down back in’79, but is it crazy to think that if The Empire Strikes Back came out today we wouldn’t have something like the biggest reveal in cinema history spoiled in the trailers? Modern trailers consistently reveal too much of the plot and too much of the best dialogue in movies they are only supposed to be previewing. Hence why they are called “previews.”
Thanks to this new trend of five-minute long movie trailers that reveal WAY too much, I made the sad decision to avoid watching them altogether. Yes, they are a good way to get excited about an upcoming film, but it just isn’t worth tarnishing the experience of actually seeing the movie for the first time.
That being said, sometimes it’s hard to avoid seeing a trailer, and recently while attending a screening of Suicide Squad (meh) I saw a trailer for a movie titled Dunkirk. I have decided that it is the most perfect movie trailer ever put together and it has me extremely excited to see the film. The best part? I have close to zero idea what Dunkirk is even going to be about. Let’s break down why trailer is so darn perfect.
First off, we learn that Dunkirk is a Christopher Nolan film. Sold. Trailer could end there and I’m going to see it. After we get Chris’s list of directing credentials, we jump into the trailer. There is some ominous music playing in the background as well as the sound of a clock ticking that progressively gets louder. This creates a dramatic feeling of impending doom. We then start to get shots of an expansive beach from multiple angles. There are a lot of soldiers standing on said beach. Said soldiers are dressed in what looks like World War 1 uniforms? Maybe World War 2. Apparently these soldiers are “at the point of annihilation” and also, for them, “survival is victory.” That is the extent of the plot points we get, which is perfect.
When the ticking of the clock stops, we are treated to the climax of the trailer which seems to be a shot of soldiers again who are standing on a boat? A seawall? I’m not really sure, and that’s alright. These soldiers hear what sounds like a plane approaching very fast. They look pretty frightened. I probably would be, too, I’m no expert on airplane sounds, but it sounds super angry. As the angry plane gets louder and closer the soldiers begin to duck and cover their heads in the very limited space they have.
When the plane gets its loudest (and angriest) and seems just out of frame and the soldiers are at their most terrified, it cuts to the title of the movie, which is Dunkirk. I don’t know what Dunkirk means, like, at all. A simple Google search could tell me, but I truthfully don’t want to know. I like the mystery. Is it a normal war movie? Maybe. Are they going to be fighting a giant monster called the Dunkirk? I hope so. Either way I’m super pumped for this movie.