Reporting from Cricklewood for one trailer only, I’m back. A vast team from ‘Angels in America’ (well, four people) have put together a trailer that almost seems to answer the challenge I set forth last term for “a paradigm-shifting black-and-white trailer.” The soundscape is fantastic, subtle and compelling, as is the music. The use of radio bulletins isn’t too pointed and they give way at just the right point to the main characters, taking the audience from the contextual to the personal. The accompanying footage operates on the same principle, though I’m impressed with the calibre of locations used for the latter half of the trailer – they hold up, giving the whole trailer the professional aesthetic that the producers clearly aimed for.
Unfortunately, the aesthetic overtakes the intent. At about the 1:20 mark, the overuse of slow motion begins to grate, and adds little to our understanding of the characters or story. It feels like the filmmakers allowed the images to give way to the admittedly beautiful score underneath, slowing the whole production. The last thirty seconds feel like wading through treacle to an unsatisfying, spongy conclusion. Following five seconds of blank whiteness, the final swell of music accompanying the angel’s voice at the end just isn’t enough to ramp up the energy. The significance of the shot of Bethesda Fountain at the end requires knowledge of the play to grasp – i.e. the trailer has slipped from doing a great job of establishing context to demanding it. In its final moments, the trailer falls victim to its own self-importance (see the teaser trailer for more evidence of this) and, perhaps cannily, invites its audience to share in that self-importance: it’s ‘Angels in America’, of course you know all about it.