What a Titanic Heartbreak!

Iconic scene from the movie that I used in my trailer.

I was looking forward to working on this video project as soon as it was mentioned in class. I had just watched 2012 (2009)  (click on the link to watch its trailer) and The Day After Tomorrow (2004) (click on the link to watch its trailer), and noted some of the cinematic techniques employed in the movies to convey meaning. I was excited to work with Titanic (1997) (click on the link to watch its trailer), and significantly transform its meaning in a short trailer. I watched the movie again in order to come up with an idea to transform its meaning; luckily, an idea struck me during the course of watching the movie. I decided to make my trailer in such a way that it depicts Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) in love until Jack is found cheating on Rose with a man called Fabrizio (Danny Nucci). Jack’s infidelity causes Rose to become heartbroken and start a downward spiral towards insanity. On the road towards insanity, Rose goes from being melancholy to violent until she is not the same person anymore and has lost all the spirit and fire that she once had.

My video trailer was greatly influenced by ideas from Marcel Danesi’s chapter on semiotics in Messages, signs, and meanings: A basic textbook in semiotics and communication. Danesi seems to be arguing that it is remarkable that humans have the ability to portray the world using colors, pictures, vocal sounds and hand gestures. Following on from Danesi’s argument, I decided to use signifiers to portray a romantic relationship between Jack and Rose. I used relatively long clips showing Jack and Rose talking to each other, dancing, and sharing an intimate moment at the bow of the ship, Titanic.

Thereafter, I borrowed ideas from Eisenstein’s Theory of Montage mentioned in Bernard Dick’s Anatomy of a Film. Eisenstein discovered how ideas could arise from the contrast and conflict of images. I used this particular idea to show that Jack and Fabrizio might be more than friends. In contrast to the image of Jack and Rose at the bow of the Titanic, I used a clip where Jack and Fabrizio are looking at dolphins, and are standing in a position similar to Jack and Rose.

Finally, I employed gestalt theory from Scott McCloud’s Understanding comics: The invisible art to show how Rose discovers Jack’s infidelity. I used a clip that showed a car with steamy windows, and suggestive audio in the background to show Jack and Fabrizio making love. It is after this point that Rose starts a downward spiral towards insanity after breaking up with Jack. At first, she is shown to be melancholy, and then she turns violent. I employed gestalt theory once again to show her swinging an axe, and then her reaction after swinging the axe to encourage the audience to fill in the gap between the shots. Furthermore, I chose to use relatively shorter and darker clips to show Rose saying and doing things that might be considered to be those of an insane person. I feel that the combined effect of short, face paced clips in conjunction with a soundtrack that is fast and dramatic conveyed most of the dramatic meaning in the trailer.

All in all, the video project did not present me with major difficulties or frustrations. I encountered minor problems because the source video for Titanic was in two videos, and I failed to rename them so that they would have different file names after ripping. This caused problems in sound for some clips. To overcome this problem, I renamed the source files, which corrected the audio problem, and as a precaution, I also kept saving often. To make this project enjoyable, I would encourage others to start early by watching the movie, and coming up with a general idea for the trailer. This makes it easier to look for clips in the movie, and you can really free yourself to experiment with all the different video editing tools in Adobe Premiere.

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