Film School: How Editing Can Transform Genre

The Shining X The Grand Budapest Hotel (via wallpapercave) The Shining X The Grand Budapest Hotel (via wallpapercave)

The power of cutting, transitions, sound design and music cues in creating – and completely transforming – our understanding of film.

Editing theory, specifically The Kuleshov Effect, posits that combining images creates meaning which may not exist within the images individually. Suggestion, persuasion, even propaganda, are built on this principle. Here are some examples of completely different moods, tones, and ultimately messages, are created with different edits of movie trailers.

The Shining

Stanley Kubrick‘s classic horror film, loosely based on Stephen King‘s novel…

… is transformed, through clever cutting, transitions, voiceover and manipulative music cues, to create a three-act arc, and suggest a character-driven dramedy:

Mrs Doubtfire

The Robin Williams-starring, Chris Columbus-directed comedy

… reimagined as horror / thriller – interestingly, however, without changing any actual story beats, but simply by showing them in a different light – with transitions such as inverting, fading-to-white, and ominous audio stings:

The Silence of the Lambs

Director Jonathan Demme has seemingly baked the tension into the very shots themselves – especially in his use of POV shots in the dialogue scenes. Surely there’s no Kuleshov-ing our way out of the original film’s horror-thriller genre:

… but by matching shots with reverse shots from unrelated scenes, on-the-nose title cards, upbeat music and, once again, voiceover narration, CineFix‘s “Trailer Mix” presents the story (albeit slightly less convincingly than the previous examples) as a romantic comedy:


The original features footage shot especially for the trailer – and we see the actual film footage in only split-second snippets

… while Mashable uses only footage from the film to suggest it’s a comedy:

Knives Out

Writer/director Rian Johnson‘s whodunnit, in the tradition of Agatha Christie

… is reimagined – via the film’s official Twitter, no less – as a romance:

Batman Begins

Let’s contrast the theatrical trailer for Christopher Nolan’s film…

not with a fan edit or parody, but with actual TV promo spots:

The Mandalorian

Disney’s Star Wars “Space Western” series, The Mandalorian

… gets a Spaghetti Western trailer from Lance Krall:

Further Viewing

A roundup of breakdowns and tutorials on what makes an effective trailer – and how to create your own:

Featured image credit: via WallpaperCave

Related Posts: