Friday, September 5, 2014

Fly High With Top Gun

Fly High with Top Gun
Hunter Pallasch

            The Top Gun movie trailer immediately opens up with a scene on a naval aircraft carrier with high intensity brought to the screen by the sounds and visuals of roaring jets.  Immediately, the viewer can conclude the movie is going to be action packed.  In addition, the trailer also includes a few silhouetted make out scenes that adds a sense of romance to the film.  Top Gun is about a hot shot fighter pilot nicknamed Maverick, played by Tom Cruise, who earns a spot at Top Gun, the most prestigious school in the navy for pilots.  While there he battles with his ego and his relationships with those around him to eventually work his way to the top of his class. 
            The trailer’s main appeal to the audience is being a military based movie.  Visual cues that invoke patriotism are loaded in almost every scene in which the actors are dressed in some type of military uniform.  The opening scene is an aerial image of a naval aircraft carrier with the text, “Indian Ocean. Present day” plays a huge part for the movie being released in 1986.  American history in the late 80s is storied with a bombing of Libya, invasions of Grenade and Panama, and the election of Ronald Reagan.  During Reagan’s presidency there was high patriotism that the trailer plays off of being a military movie.  Ironically, four years after the release, the United States would enter the Persian Gulf War in the exact location that the fictional movie is starts.  Continuing to play off the emotions of the historical time period, the trailer includes a scene of Maverick saying, “I want to serve my country.”  There really is no further explanation for drawing on some one’s patriotism than serving their country.  It would only make sense for an American to want to go see a movie about Americans who serve the country.
            Top Gun also stresses a “cool” factor into the trailer with the intense and upbeat music.  From the book Everything’s an Argument by Andrea Lunsford, Akira Kurosawa, a filmmaker, is quoted, “Cinematic sound…does not simply add to, but multiplies, tow or three times, the effect of the image” (Lunsford 201).  The sound effects from the fighter jets coupled with the soundtrack of the trailer intensify the awesomeness of fighter jets slicing through the sky.  When you add the fact each character has a code name and is only referred to by that code name, the trailer’s coolness is unparalleled.  However, this appeal to coolness is most likely limited to males.  Where the trailer hits a home run at putting “manly” on display, it lacks in a broad appeal.  As very few females have an interest in military movies.
            What the trailer does to compensate for lack of attracting a female audience, is it plays to the strength of a young and suave Tom Cruise.  The lighting and camera work does a good job of focusing on his drop-dead good looks.  Top Gun does a good job of utilizing Tom Cruise’s fame from his most recent big hit, Risky Business.  It is important to center a film on someone who has had success that, “If a company is well known, liked, and respected, that reputation will contribute to its persuasive power” (Lunsford 56).  Whoever casted Top Gun chose a great main character to build this reputation and the trailer plays to this strength.  To even further the credibility of the movie beyond just the female audience, the fictional movie is about a non-fictional school.  Top Gun does in fact exist and is one of the most premier flight schools.  Associating the movie with something that is elite in real life, elevates the level of respect given for the movie.
            The Top Gun movie trailer does a fantastic job of immediately creating a strong patriotic appeal to viewers.  Watching the trailer in a historical context only elevates the attraction to the film.  While the trailer does come off as being male focused, you cannot really go wrong with Mr. Cool himself, Tom Cruise.  The Top Gun trailer might not be perfect but it receives a 4 out of 5 pickles for its ability to draw in crowds.
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