Saturday, February 03, 2007

The wide availability of video editing software has spawned a number of new art forms, one of which is the imaginatively reinvented movie trailer (the "recut"). Three of my favorites are for Jaws, When Harry Met Sally, and Taxi Driver.


{Steve Rapaport} said...

If you liked those three recuts, see if you can stop laughing at this one:

Brokeback to the Future:

Dan Simon said...

Steve, one thing you quickly discover after browsing through YouTube recuts is that just about any movie can be recut as (1) a horror film or (2) a gay romance. That's because every movie has enough shots of people looking scared or upset that if you string them together with ominous music, it looks like a horror trailer, and every movie has enough shots of men looking intensely at each other, or hugging, or turning away disappointedly, that if you string them together over the Brokeback Mountain theme, it looks like a gay romance trailer. Check out, for example, this Top Gun recut, or this Planes, Trains and Automobiles recut. (Those are the best I've seen of the genre--much better than Brokeback to the Future, in my opinion.)

Because they seem particularly easy, I tend to discount both these genres, and didn't include any of either in my "top three" list. (When Harry Met Sally was a close call, but it came off as more of a dark erotic thriller than a horror film, and I thought the first half of it was particularly well-done.) Apart from those exclusions, I generally look for three qualities in a recut:

1) Production values: The recut should look like a plausible trailer.

2) Plot specificity: Horror film recuts are easy because horror films are often about vague, mysterious evils that are alluded to in the trailer, but never exactly defined or explained. More challenging--and to me, more entertaining--is a recut, such as Must Love Jaws, that creates the impression of a specific plot that's very different from the original one.

3) Film coverage: One genre of not-very-interesting recut is the kind that blows a tiny subplot all out of proportion, to make it seem that the film is about the subplot rather than the whole film. The better recuts cover a range of the original film's lines and scenes--particularly its most famous ones (such as, Travis Bickle's "are you talkin' to me?" in Taxi Driver).

As you can see, I've given this a lot of thought. I even have a couple of great recut ideas--but, alas, neither the time, nor the skills, nor the software to turn them into actual recuts.

Ronda said...

Great work.