The movie trailer for My Sister’s Keeper effectively used a combination of ethos and pathos arguments to persuade viewers to see the film. Not only did it use these elements, it also used lighting to emotionally move viewers. There are clips that are heartwarming and then others that bring tears to viewer’s eyes, forming the perfect basis of a great drama. Another aspect is curiosity, which ultimately grabs the viewer's attention and creates a desire to see the film.
While the film’s trailer has many captivating elements, it only appeals to a certain demographic. The main target audience are women ages sixteen and older. The subject being discussed in the trailer is a mature topic that probably wouldn’t interest anyone under the age of sixteen. Any viewer familiar with Jodi Picoult books would also have interest, as it is one of her most famous novels. However, many men could view this movie as too emotional, and not be enticed to watch it after the trailer.
Early on in the trailer, Anna meets with a lawyer to state how she wants to be medically emancipated from her parents. Her statement, “I don’t want to do it anymore, Mom. It’s my body, I want to be able to make my own decisions about what to do with it,” appeals to viewers by using ethos. It forces them to make a judgment call to whether or not her parents can force her into giving her sister a kidney, even if Kate’s life depends on it. As the textbook explains, “To answer serious and important questions, we often turn to professionals (doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, pastors) or to experts for wise and frank advice.” (Lunsford, p.45). The fact that a lawyer is backing her up, as shown in the trailer, suggests that this ethical dilemma is serious and will be decided through the judicial process.
Beyond the ethos argument, pathos is also used greatly throughout the trailer to catch interest in the movie. It portrays every emotion from sadness, to heartbreak, to the joy of sisterhood. It starts off with a light, joking mood, making viewers laugh. However, it very soon switches to confusion when she meets with a lawyer to sue her parents. With the scenes that show Kate in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy treatment, the viewer can instantly makes a connection to someone they know who has suffered through cancer or a similar disease. Another emotionally powerful scene was when Kate was dressed and ready to go to prom with her love interest. She is seen at the top of the stairs, dressed in a beautiful gown and wig, with the light shining on her. As she comes down the stairs, she sees her father and asks, “Do I look pretty Daddy?” To me, this was very emotional because you could get the impression that she has never thought of herself as pretty due to her condition.
Aside from the logos and pathos arguments, lighting effects also add to complete the trailer’s experience. The scenes that take place on the beach or on their lawn are always well lit, with natural lighting. These scenes are mostly peaceful, intimate moments between the family or the two sisters. Amongst all of the complication their family is experiencing, these light scenes add positivity that otherwise wouldn’t exist. The scene where Kate is at the top of the stairs in her dress, approaching her family, the lighting is overexposed, giving her a dreamy, dramatic look. This technique is commonly used, as From Understanding Movies explains. “Overexposure has been most effectively used in nightmare and fantasy sequences. Sometimes this technique can suggest a sense of emotional exaggeration.” (Giannetti, p.22)
As mentioned previously, curiosity is subtly raised when she meets with her lawyer to become medically emancipated from her parents. Throughout the whole trailer, there are scenes where Kate and Anna are braiding each other’s hair, laughing and taking pictures. This suggests that they have a close relationship, as do most sisters. But this just raises more questions, why wouldn’t a little girl want to help her own sister survive?