For my project I worked with Beauty and the Beast (Bill Condon, 1991). Originally, this animated movie was made for children and is considered a romance / fantasy story today. I changed the film to a movie called The Beauty which plays on the idea of the original title but also alludes to Belle being beautiful yet crazy in the trailer.
For the recut version, I eliminated the beast as a character and made the trailer start out as a romance between Gaston and Belle. I did this because after analyzing other thrillers /scary movies, I noticed that they usually start out as more lighthearted. This strategy plays on Greg Smith’s idea of genre codes, which are “recognizable components of a genre, as elements that can be mixed and matched to make a new film or television program.” (Smith, p. 56). In other words, genre codes are elements of a movie that are unofficially yet (mostly) culturally understood. I played with the typical genre codes of romance films, which are usually defined by well lit scenes, upbeat music. Marriage being Gaston’s ultimate goal with Belle is also playing to the idea of genre code in that a typical romance character shows their love through proposals or marriage.
In the beginning cuts, I portrayed Belle as a lovely woman who has fallen in love with the character, Gaston using Marcel Danesi’s ideas of symbolism. I made use of symbolism through use of transitions. Transitions were a major element that helped set the stage of the thriller. Danesi states that the color white is a symbol since it can stand for “purity,” or “innocence.” Dark colors, on the other hand, could stand for “uncleanness,” “impurity,” “corruption,” (Danesi, p. 31). Thus, in the beginning scenes, I used only either white or translucent transitions to brighten / lighten the images to highlight the “purity” of the romance. Here, the relationship is seen as healthy and mutual, which is not the case in the original film. Once the scenes grew more insidious, the transitions chosen faded into a black color to symbolize the corruption of Belle. I would not say that the corruption of Belle is effective or believable simply because of the choice of transitions, although it certainly does help. Juxtaposing certain scenes also helps set the tone of the trailer. For example, in the dialogue, which doubles in function as narrative to the trailer, Belle says, “It is you!” This was originally meant to be spoken to the beast. However, with the cuts made excluding the beast, which is a form of framing, it looks as if she is talking to Gaston. The lightheartedness of the scene is also emphasized by the use of music. I chose music for the beginning scenes that was upbeat to showcase this lightheartedness.
For the cut that follows the one where a narrator voice tells Belle to kill Gaston, I chose a clip of Belle that was a close up. According to Bernard Dick, close ups have the special ability to emphasize emotion of the character (Dick, 53). Because close ups can emphasize emotion due to the fact that they can show facial expressions so closely, it made sense to use this to emphasize the change in emotion that Belle feels. At first, the tension in her face shows that she questions whether she should do it, but then as her facial expression softens into a smile, the audience can sense that she has come to terms with what she should do and is actually a bit of a crazy character.
What I found difficult and frustrating about this project was that I had a hard time finding scenes that made Belle and Gaston look as though they got along. They also talked a lot to each other, and this made it difficult to have a clean looking trailer. To overcome this, I had to take elements from scenes where they were not together and place them side by side to make it appear as if they were talking to each other. I also struggled with volume for the music and background noise, and so I had to search google quite a bit to figure out how to make this more cleaned up as well. I would advise future students to begin this project very early. It is deceptively time consuming and can be quite difficult for the less tech savvy. However, all resources regarding troubleshooting can be found online, and so this just requires some time for digging.