Before I begin my analysis of the trailer for the 2006 Best Picture Oscar winning film, The Departed, I feel I should include a disclaimer, and it is as follows:
DISCLAIMER: Although I will try not to be bias to the pure awesome that is this film, and provide a clear analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the rhetoric in this trailer, I may be bias to the pure awesome that is this film.
There is evidence of each of the three types of rhetorical appeal; ethos, pathos, and logos, however, the star of the show is the ethos appeal, but I will save the best for last!
The logos appeal lies completely in the genre of the film. The basic idea behind a trailer is that they are shown before films that are the same genre, or might attract the same audience, so logically, viewers of the feature will be attracted to the trailer seen beforehand. This trailer screams mobster film, which is exactly what it is. It is packed with action, from the hand to hand combat, to the mud slinging made by characters, to the fire, right down to the gun shot that ends the trailer, which ends up being a symbol for the end of the movie (spoiler alert: everyone dies at the end of the film). Fans of the mobster film genre would immediately be drawn in. The trailer speaks of the Irish mafia, a specific gangster, the state police, and the secrecy each character holds. All of which are key ingredients to an excellent mobster flick.
Pathologically, the appeal is heavily driven by the music. Traditionally, trailers may consist of one or two songs that follow the same basic rhythm, or flow. This trailer breaks the norm in that way. There is a compilation of very different types of music that are a stark contrast to each other in their rhythmic pattern. The music heavily dictates the mood the trailer cutter (for lack of a better term…because, no, the filmmakers do not cut the trailer) was trying to convey. One may think that this film will follow the typical pattern of a mobster/crime film, but it takes more twists and turns that the average viewer can even begin to fathom. According to Lunsford, music can be a big indicator of the emotion the viewer is intended to feel. Specifically, upbeat tunes indicate happiness, while somber notes may represent death or sad moments. The feelings of the viewer dance to the patterns in the music. In the case of The Departed, there is a mixture of an ominous tune at the beginning, a more upbeat song for the middle (Dropkick Murphy’s, “I’m Shipping Up To Boston,” which becomes the theme song of the film), and then ending with a slow, serious song, which is the exact pattern the film follows, so the music not only foreshadows the extended plot, but it also is a good indicator of the emotional roller coaster the viewer will ride when watching this film.
Lastly, the star of the show (no pun intended), which is the ethos appeal. This rhetorical device is heavily hinged on the idea of the American Star System. The director and the stars of the film really tie all the other elements together, and drive home the overall appeal of the film. Gianneti mentions the American Star System in his text. He explains that it is a thing that is was created by the general public. The general public gets behind certain talent (in this case, foxy male actors), and creates stardom for them. An actor or director does not achieve stardom on his or her own, but it is rather granted by the general public. The public elevates him or her to that level. The Departed was made by one of the most notable names in the history of cinema, Martin Scorsese, and stars some of the hottest (as in attractive as well as popular) male actors in the history of cinema, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, and Matt Damon. It also packs punch with heavy hitters like Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, and Martin Sheen. The ethos appeal is all contained in the list of talent. The general public sees credible names like these; people with huuuuuge careers, and they are instantly drawn in, waiting on the edge of their seat to see the film. This is the kind of appeal where individuals start to refer to the film before it comes out as “the new Scorsese film” or “the new Leo movie,” these are examples of an audience member tying the film to its ethos appeal; they want to see the film solely for the reason of seeing the actor or the director, etc. This trailer does an excellent job of showcasing all their talent in a two minute and thirty second preview. It not only does this by displaying all the names on the screen during the preview, but by also giving each of the big stars a moment in the preview. In these moments, the actor gives a unique taste of what their character is going to bring in the coming feature. For example, Matt Damon’s character is seen a couple of times telling his significant other that he can’t divulge any facts about his job, it is all a secret, which becomes a big part of his storyline. The major star power truly is a slam dunk argument to go and see the film.
The argument is very clear in this trailer, it is a star powered, mobster film that has a lot of action, and many twists and turns in the storyline. The average viewer can easily be persuaded to see the film because the trailer puts it all on the table.