Ethos is prominently established by drawing upon prior successes of the filmmakers and cast. The producers suggest the credibility of Inception by flashing that the movie is “From the director of the Dark Knight”. Because The Dark Knight was a successful movie, the audience might assume that Inception will be a success too. I was a huge fan of Christopher Nolan’s directing in The Dark Knight so I was very hopeful that Inception would be done in a similar style. The producers also try to win the audience’s respect with the casting itself. In the book Understanding Movies, author Louis Giannetti comments that “Once a role has been cast, especially with a personality star, the essence of the fictional character is already established” (282). Because Leonardo DiCaprio can be associated with his strong, mysterious roles such as in The Departed and Shutter Island, his casting in this movie suggests that his character is equally captivating and intense. On a similar point, Andrea Lunsford and John Ruszkiewicz of the book, Everything’s an Argument, write that “If they are well known, liked, and respected, that reputation will contribute to their persuasive power” (64). In other words, people are more inclined to see a movie with recognizable and respected actors and actresses, I know I am. Therefore, DiCaprio’s fame and accredited career as an actor is the magnet that pulls viewers in. There are several other highly respected actors and actresses cast in the movie such as Joseph Gordan-Levitt and Ellen Page who also contribute to the allurement. The combination of credentials of the cast and directors attract viewers who are interested in the suspenseful/action genre.
Pathos is another powerful tactic used to influence the audience. To achieve a mysterious tone, the producers incorporated scenes that defy the rules of our world. Such scenes include men floating in the dream world, or the character Ariadne creating a dream for the first time. This gives the movie a fantasy feel that pushes our perceptions of reality and pique our curiosity. The producers also attempt to arouse anxiety through intense action scenes such as exploding cars, buildings, and shootings. The interaction between DiCaprio’s character Cobb and his wife Mal stir up our passion and sympathy. Finally, Arthur’s ruse to get Ariadne to kiss him at the end of the trailer evokes our laughter and breaks up the heaviness of the film. These appeals to emotion are not flimsy attempts at pulling the audience in; on the contrary, “Emotion can add real muscle to arguments” (Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz 110). This reiterates the point that the pathos is a powerful tool in the trailer. The myriad of emotions being drawn from the audience causes them to be invested in the plot of the story and thus attracted to go see the movie.
The Inception trailer initially flaunted the qualifications of its cast members and directors to grab the attention of the audience, but captured them with the dynamics of the movie. As an action movie lover, I was very enticed to see the movie, but the trailer did not only interest those who liked action. The main appeal is to the mystery-drawn audience and the action-seeking audience, but there are minor appeals to those interested in the romance of Mal and Cobb and the witty humor of Arthur and other characters. Overall, the trailer successfully advertised the movie and was persuasive in its techniques to attract the audience.