Thursday, January 24, 2013

Independence Day

Falan Fish

As the trailer for Independence Day begins, it immediately captures viewer attention by demanding you listen to the essential words spoken by the famous voiceover actor Don LaFontaine. Beginning with pathos, the goal was to instantly draw you into the movie. The words themselves describe a normal start to a day by an average person. You listen to them as you see Will Smith’s morning played out and you find yourself connecting with his character. As I watched I saw instances of some of my own mornings acted out in the scene (especially the instant where the dog jumps on the bed with the shoe!), and that is exactly what this was designed to do. The producers wanted to build a bridge between you and the characters of the movie, and the trailer was meant for you to begin with thoughts such as “That could be me!” or “That is exactly what my morning is like,” so that when the real action and storyline begin to play out you feel as if this actually could be happening to you. After all he began his morning just like you do, so he can’t be that different from you right?

Suddenly, the trailer switches to a scene in which inhabitants of a city are running around in a panic, and of course, this is where the dramatic music begins. This ominous music combined with the hysteria in the scene draw you in as your fear and instant intrigue begin to escalate. As we learn that all of human kind is being “exterminated” by alien beings the emotions become personal. Anger and the need to survive rise within us, and we feel personally violated when Jeff Golblum realizes that, “They’re using our own satellites against us. ” “We all make decisions…based on our feelings” (Lunsford 30) which is exactly what I have done only 55 seconds into the trailer in deciding that I must see this movie (despite the fact that I’ve seen it before). I’m sure I’m not alone.

Though the trailer is dripping with pathos, there exists an undercurrent of ethos that is not easily apparent, but instead draws on our subconscious. This begins with the casting. As Louis Giannetti points out in his book Understanding Movies, “Casting a movie is almost an art in itself” (Giannetti 279), and the casting in Independence Day is no exception. Though I didn’t view this trailer in 1996 when the film was released, there is an abundance of actors in this movie some of whom were well know at the time and others who weren’t. Robert Loggia, for example, had been acting since 1956, and his filmography now includes 223 titles (IMDb). Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, and Harry Connick Jr. were also well know and well liked figures in 1996. These actors’ well-known and established ethos lends instant credibility to the movie because “ethos creates quick and sometimes almost irresistible connections between audiences and arguments”  (Lunsford 45). The audience can trust that this movie will be good based on the ethos of its actors. In addition to this there are many other characters that were not as well know or who had acted primarily on television shows such as Will Smith and Vivica A. Fox (IMDb). The fact that these actors were not stars at the time made them directly relatable to the audience. Furthermore Will Smith, one of the main characters, and his family are African American, so the producers make sure they do not alienate anyone and appeal to our ethical and moral values of equality.

Lastly the trailer exhibits logos through its display of the 20th Century Fox icon before it even started. Because 20th Century Fox was and still is a dominant figure in the movie production industry (Giannetti 225), it has produced many great quality films. Logically then it can be assumed that this film will also be a good quality film typical of the kind they have made before; if someone already liked 20th Century Fox films they can conclude they will like this one.

All in all, the trailer does a great job persuading people to see this film. It attempts to relate to everyone from all walks of life through the characters and cast members it portrays, and the trailer shows small children, teenagers, adults, mothers, fathers, military members, and civilians. Everyone, besides small children, falls into the target audience of this movie. I believe I first saw it somewhere around the age of 5. Thus it is also logical for a family to pick this movie when going to the theater. Because it ethically connects to an audience’s values of freedom, justice, patriotism, honor, and pride in one’s country, it is a movie for all. 

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