Trailer: The Movie

The Golden Trailer Awards should be a bigger telecast than the Oscars. At least that way we’d all have seen the same things before the envelopes got opened. Trailers are the real way we conceptualize a film — they’re forward-memories, distilled experiences of what the film should (not will) be, and nobody ever got to the two-thirds point of a trailer and said, “I gotta pee, tell me what I miss.”

Look at the 2010 winners honored at the last Golden Trailer ceremony. I guarantee you’ve seen them all. The finished films, probably, not so much. But somewhere along the way, one of those very expensive commercials gave you a warm-pelvis sensation of gotta-see-that. That’s what you carried with you in deciding whether to partake of the full movie.

OMG NERDBONER AMIRITE? You remember how that felt, don’t you?

In his book Savoring, Fred Bryant suggests ways to learn to savor or to mindfully engage in thoughts or behaviors that heighten the effect of positive events on positive feelings. Bryant’s work also supports 3 temporal forms of Savoring: (1) Anticipatory (2) In the Moment and (3) Reminiscent. Meaning, we can savor a positive event before it happens by getting excited in preparation for it, we can savor the positive event as it occurs and we can savor a positive event by remembering it.

The best trailers are often more compelling, more immersive, and more emotionally manipulative than the films they represent, stirring us with a combination of vision, pacing, score and dramatic arc that must, by definition, be more compact than the finished movie. The trailer for Iron Man 2 rocked (and contained the best scene not to make the final cut). Iron Man 2 sucked. So it goes.

Our anticipatory savoring begins even as the lights drop in the theater, knowing that we’re about to get our first glimpses of some future pleasure. We are wired to hunt out such pleasure; compared to that rapture, seeing a whole movie feels like work. (Those guys who queued up for Wing Commander just to see the Phantom Menace trailer? They had it bad.) How can the trailer not ravish us? How can the film that follows — like the one promoted below, which hinges on both nostalgia and future-now whizzbang — not disappoint?

Great Lake Swimmers — Moving Pictures Silent Films (Live)

The New Pornographers — Twin Cinema

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