With over $677 million in sales, it is easy to say that Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump drew large crowds, but can any of this success be linked to the trailer?
The three-minute trailer is a collection of scenes from the movie, and one should be able to infer that the film follows a character named Forrest Gump and documents his life from early childhood through adulthood. Although not much of the plot is revealed, the trailer shows clips of some of the movie’s most important scenes. Pathos and emotions are drawn up through scenes such as the one in which Forrest is running in front of the car as the boys are throwing rocks at him, or the one in which Forrest talks to his mother as she is sick in bed, or even just the brief shot at the end with Jenny in tears. I believe these scenes demonstrate that this film will be full of strong storyline and heavy emotions. As Andrea A. Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz state in Everything’s an Argument ,“sometimes images have the power to persuade by sheer pathos” and I believe this trailer’s shots do just that (452). My heart breaks as I watch him being chased by the bullies and I find it endearing to see him describe Jenny with a smile on his face; these scenes draw up emotions inside me and invite me to see the film for more.
Ethos is also used towards the end of the trailer when the narrator announces, “Paramount Pictures presents Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise and Sally Field, a film by Robert Zemeckis.” These recognizable names are called to the viewer’s attention in hopes to add credibility. With Zemeckis’ success in Back to the Future and The Polar Express and Hanks’ multiple Academy and Emmy Awards, the powerhouses behind this film should lead the viewer to trust the quality. Viewers “give the [actors] they know a hearing they might not automatically grant to a stranger or someone who hasn’t earned their respect or affection” (Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz 57). Just as readers are more likely to trust a credited source, viewers are more likely to watch a movie from an acclaimed director and award-winning stars.
When analyzing the effectiveness of a movie trailer, it is vital to consider whom it is targeting and how it appeals to those viewers. With its dramatic scenes and rich plot, I believe this trailer is targeting fans of dramas and any movie-goers that enjoy a rich storyline. For anyone who’s passionate about love stories or appreciative of life lessons, this trailer should be appealing. I personally have always been a huge fan of sappy love stories and vivid melodramas, so this trailer’s cut to many emotional scenes is incredibly alluring to me.
While I did not view the trailer before seeing the movie for the first time, I believe that this trailer has made a relatively effective argument. Where it lacks in action or glamour, it is rich in emotion and principles. I believe it very effectively uses both pathos and ethos. I do think that it might be targeting a limited audience and it could be more effective to a wider range of people if it had more action scenes or humorous lines, but I do believe that it was effective towards its target audience.
So after much analysis, I give this trailer a rating of…(drumroll please)…4 bags of buttery popcorn.
Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPIEn0M8su0