This trailer for Back to the Future, accurately and convincingly previews the energy, excitement, and mystery that lie in this Spielberg film. It is evident that the combination of ethos, pathos, and logos play important roles in convincing the audience to see this sci-fi and action packed comedy about a teenager who rides a 1985 DeLorean 30 years through time.
The first noticeable use of ethos appeal is shown at the very beginning of the trailer as it opens with the words, “Steven Spielberg presents” with the background effect of a lightning bolt striking a clock tower. Now, unless you have lived under a rock your whole life, you know that Steven Spielberg is one of the most well known if not the most well known film makers, producers, writers and directors of all time. Establishing that this is a Spielberg film within at the very start of the trailer grants a tremendous amount of credibility to the film as one that must be seen. As the main protagonist, Michael J. Fox, is shown in front of the camera within the first few seconds of the trailer, another ethos appeal is made: this well known 1980s poster boy teen star is here to cast in another great film. In Everything’s an Argument, authors Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz write, “If they are well known, liked, and respected, that reputation will contribute to their persuasive power” (64). This is exactly what the trailer is trying to preview, a well known, liked, and respected actor is here again to cast in a well-known, liked and respected film.
The first scene from the trailer captures your attention as you see a steaming 1985 tricked out DeLorean, one of the world’s first supercars, rolling out of a van in the middle of the night in an empty parking lot. The awe and wonder of this scene pulls you in to watch more as the trailer’s background music continues with the perfect theme song, “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News. So far, the opening of the trailer shows that this movie may be very intriguing and attractive, especially to the teen 1980s culture. With the superb combination of super sports cars, time travel, and rock & roll music, this trailer utilizes these three elements to logically appeal (logos) to any 80s pop culture lover to see this movie. The mixed genre of this film also plays a key role in the logical appeal this trailer exercises. This trailer previews a decent amount of action scenes, funny scenes, as well as revealing a main element in the plot, one of the greatest mysteries and fantasies of science fiction lovers, time travel. Due to all of these mixed characteristics of the film previewed at once, the audience from a wide range of ages and interests is tuned in and is logically convinced to see the film.
Once Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is sent back to the 1950s during the trailer, an emotional appeal is convincingly utilized as the trailer previews the movie’s hilarity and sets the mood with previews of comical situations that occur in the actual film. One of the trailer’s first depictions of the film’s humor is displayed when Marty steps out of his time machine into the new 1950s world. After he crashes into a Famer’s barn, the Farmer and his family scream terror as they are convinced that the DeLorean is a flying saucer from outer space. After Marty wonders through the 1950s, the narrator then explains some of the bizarre, amusing plot: as it turns out, Marty meets both of his teenage parents in the past, and his mother ends up falling for him instead of his actual father. It is up to Marty to get his parents back together to avoid his own fate. The pressure and excitement of Marty’s situation emotionally appeals to the audience as they can only wonder what this 1980s poster boy teenager will do while stuck in the 50s to get his parents back together; as the teenager version of his mother says, “He can sleep in my room,” with a lusty seducing voice. The trailer also iterates that Michael J. Fox is the hero of the movie in many instances. This is also very effective in the ethos appeal because having an attractive and popular star cast as the hero of the movie makes the audience like him and appreciate the film that much more. In Understanding Movies, Giannetti states “Whenever the hero isn’t portrayed by a star the whole picture suffers” (Giannetti 266).
Overall, I was impressed with the persuading elements that this very short trailer held. This trailer did an excelling job in pulling in a huge audience and making it a 1980s classic. Five slurpees.