Inside the short timeframe of two minutes, the Beasts of the Southern Wild trailer used each of the rhetorical devices of pathos, ethos, and logos to appeal to viewers to come see the movie. There were both visual and sound effects throughout the trailer which helped to create a visually persuading argument to its target audience to see the movie. The trailer is able to take its audience on short journey that beckons them to see the whole thing.
The audience this trailer will influence to see the movie may be a smaller portion of the human population but the trailer will persuade this group of people with great results. I like to call this segment of the population the “movie connoisseur.” A movie connoisseur likes to find and appreciates often low budget and independent films which perform well at film festivals. They value a movie which is not well known yet is highly critically acclaimed. One effect this trailer uses is to repeatedly and prominently display quotes of praise as well as awards is has received throughout the trailer. This plays to the ethos of this type of audience. Many arguments aimed at a person’s ethos are aimed at their trust (Lunsford 45). The target audience of this trailer trusts critics like those who judge at the Sundance Film Festival. Showing the fact they were the film’s official selection is an effective way to use the rhetorical device of ethos.
During the trailer, you are also introduced to a few of the movie’s characters. Every single one of the actors is unrecognizable and has never been part of a Hollywood blockbuster. This will further entice the movie connoisseur since this helps to show this is a little known and independent film. The trailer uses its central character, a young girl to play at the pathos of its viewers. It is easy to see that this young girl is partaking in a journey during this movie that will experience hardships, triumphs, and even some fantasy. The main voice heard during the trailer is hers as she says a quote which is complex yet also inspiring. Mixed with the background music of the clip, the use of the little girl gets the people emotionally invested in this exploration of life she is about to begin. The colors shown in this trailer also help to show that this movie will be about a journey involving ups and downs which will toy with the emotions of the viewer. “Color tends to be a subconscious element in film. It’s strongly emotional in its appeal, expressive and atmospheric rather than intellectual (Giannetti 22). There are dark colors expressing signs of hardship which take over the trailer when there appears to be a storm where the main characters are living but also in another scene there are bright lights from fireworks indicating some type of celebration. The use of the young girl’s voice and colors of light used in the trailer help to emotional invest people in the movie’s story.
Through effectively showing that the movie is a lesser known film as well has been showered with awards they also play toward the logos of their target audience. If a movie connoisseur is researching a movie to see over a weekend, he will logically assume this is the movie for him. The trailer shows it has been awarded by the film festivals he appreciates and it has the independent feel he enjoys. This will be his choice over a big Hollywood blockbuster that may be too mainstream for him.
Overall I think the trailer does a phenomenal job at convincing its target audience to come see its movie. It effectively uses the rhetorical devices of ethos, pathos, and logos to persuade this group of people. However, the amount of people in this type of audience is small so the movie would not attract a great deal of people who look for big named actors or well publicized movies. It will have to wait until the middle of award season to get its big national press and attract a larger audience. It is a very compelling trailer but since it will only at first attract few people I give it two tickets instead of three.