Monday, 15 April 2013

Trance (Pre-viewing)

Disclaimer - At the time of writing this article I have not seen Trance, therefore this analysis will be written with only a basic knowledge of the premise. Once I have seen the movie, I will write a further article that will critique the overall effectiveness of the poster.

UK Theatrical Poster
Trance is the latest movie from Oscar-winning director, Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, 28 Days Later) and stars James McAvoy as Simon, a fine-art auctioneer who becomes embroiled with Frank (Vincent Cassell) in an elaborate plot to steal a valued Goya painting. When Simon betrays Frank, he is knocked unconscious and consequently suffers from amnesia, which prevents him from revealing the location of the painting. Frank ultimately turns to hypnotherapist, Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) in a desperate attempt to unlock the whereabouts of the painting, but all may not be as it seems.

Here is the UK theatrical poster, and at a first glance it is clearly very rich in substance with a sense of intrigue. The image depicts the film's three main stars (McAvoy, Cassell, and Dawson) in very individual poses that seem to reflect major character personality traits.
On the left of the poster is James McAvoy's character, Simon, and from the positioning of the image we are immediately led to believe that he is under threat. There are two main factors that contribute to this assumption, the first, he has clearly turned his back on someone, and the second, he is looking over his shoulder. Both appear consistent with the betrayal premise of the movie but his facial expression suggests that it may not be so clear-cut. Simon does not appear overly cautious, he appears intent and deceitful, which is complimented by his apparent trust-no-one attitude. Nowhere in this image does he seem like a scared victim, which is inconsistent with the premise and trailer, and suggests that he may be in more control than he is prepared to acknowledge.

On the right is Vincent Cassell's character, Frank, who is immaculately dressed and unflinching. He appears to be very driven and focused, which suggests that he meticulous individual. The premise depicts this character as the main antagonist, but it is only evident in this image due to the fact that he is clutching a shot-gun. There is a hint of concern and desperation in the character, moreso than Simon, which suggests that he may be being manipulated and consequently, an inadvertant victim. Another reason for this assumption is that he is facing away from both of the other characters in the image, which indicates a lack of control (Simon's body is facing towards Elizabeth even though he is looking away).

In the centre of the poster is Rosario Dawson's hypnotherapist character, Elizabeth. Her postioning in this image is prominent and leads us to believe that she will be the main focus of the movie, however, without knowing the premise, we will not know why. She was recruited by Frank but she is facing away from him, which indicates that their relationship is fragile at best. She is facing the direction of Simon, indicating that he is her focus but she is not looking at him, which suggests an emotional detachment from both characters. Interestingly, she is the only character whose gaze is lowered, which is an indication of shame or guilt, something that may occur as she becomes more involved in the events of the movie. However, this may not actually be the case and she may simply be very focused on her objective, though it is likely that her initial resons for accepting the job were for selfish personal gain.

The arrangement of the image is very hypnotic, largely due to the colour-scheme and psychedelic background, which is appropriate given the film's title and premise. The film's tagline - Inside the mind. Outside the Law - is simple imfortative and effective. However, the noteable aspect is that there is no colour on the actors' faces, they are all black and white. This initially suggests neutrality but also implies that they may all have secrets, which will hopefully be revealed as the hypnotherapy progresses, be it for better (blue) or worse (red).

The film's premise revolves around the theft of a piece of art but this is evident in the poster, which indicates that it is actually inconsequential and simply a convenient plot point. It is evident that the psychological thriller aspect is far more important to the narrative, but it would seem that the film's biggest selling point is the director, Danny Boyle. This is perfectly acceptable as he is a major star, though it does dominate the image and in doing so, it implies that the director is more important than the film itself, which is ludicrous.

To conclude, this is an effective poster that, although being far from perfect, is visually intriguing enough to entice me into seeing the movie. Once I've seen the film, i'll write a follow-up article to determine whether the poster is an accurate representation of the movie, or a series of lies to fool us.

Below is an alternative version of the UK theatrical poster:

Trance is also on release in the US (see the image on the right), though this image is ultimately far less effective. Firstly, it must be commended that the image blends the art theme with the psychological thriller aspect. However, in doing so it becomes far to busy and much harder to interpret visually.

A lot of thought has clearly gone into the image arrangement but it seems baffling and at a first glance it will be difficult to determine a rough premise for the film. The image of James McAvoy is appropriate as i'm certain that this will the general audience reaction to this poster, with many becoming infuriated with it.

I have no doubt that the imagery is very relevant to the movie itself, but as a poster it simply tries too hard.

Trance is currently on general release in the UK and limited release in the US.

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