For this installment in my ongoing series on art that’s made me cry, I want to talk about a particular form of art that I love: movie trailers. I adore movie trailers, and yes, they are absolutely an art form. This will not be a dissection of that craft—I’ll save that article for another day—but instead simply an ode to a few of the movie ads that I’ve loved over the years. Some of which I loved so much, I actually cried while watching them.
Everyone remembers their first time. The first trailer to blow my mind was all the way back in 1993; it was the teaser trailer for Mortal Kombat. Sadly, though I scoured YouTube for it, I couldn’t find it, but let me assure you, it was dope af. On the plus side, a big part of what made that trailer so memorable was that it debuted the greatest theme music ever to grace god’s green Earth, and that, at least, I can link you to. Enjoy:
I didn’t become a true trailer junkie, though, until I was in college, all the way back in the prehistoric internet era when it took hours to download a 3-minute clip that you would watch a million times, and then go get your friends and watch a million times more. The true inaugural clip of my fiend years is also one of the best, the trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
Notice the music that starts at 1:36? When my friends and I first watched this trailer we knew we recognized it, but we couldn’t quite pinpoint from where. It drove us crazy. Finally, I managed to place it: It’s an orchestral version of “Lux Aeterna,” otherwise known as the theme song for Requiem for a Dream.
That might be the earliest quasi-example of a trend that’s ubiquitous nowadays in movie trailers: popular songs covered in a minor key. This has replaced the Inception “Bwaaamp!” as the current trope-de-jour.
Here’s one of the earliest true examples of the trope I can remember, from another trailer I loved, Avengers: Age of Ultron. This example is made even better by the fact that they managed to work the song— “I’ve Got No Strings” from Pinocchio—and its lyrics into the dialogue:
At this point, you might be thinking: this is all well and good, but where does the crying come in? I will admit, it has never happened that I’ve cried watching a movie trailer… the first time. Where it comes from is the repetition. As I said, I’m a junkie for these things, and I tend to watch them again and again. In the act of watching a trailer over and over again, my eagerness only grows.
Eventually, my excitement grows so intense that something bubbles over and I simply start to cry. It’s not even crying, really. I think of it more as the excitement literally just leaking out of my eyes. It builds to such an intensity inside that it just has nowhere else to go. I described it that way once to a friend, and he said, “oh, like the way a puppy pees itself when it gets excited?” And while I was not a fan of that construction, god dammit it, was apt. I call them “excitement tears.”
Here’s another trailer that got to me. I’m starting to think I might be very musically triggered:
Keeping with the theme of music, I’ve even discovered bands from trailers. (This one is a bit of a cheat since it’s a trailer for a show, but I think that’s ok. No one tell Sasha.) I was stoked for the new Jessica Jones series even before it came out, because I was a fan of Krysten Ritter and a superfan of David Tennant, but that feeling of anticipation went into overdrive once I saw this:
The band is called Of Monsters and Men, you should check them out. Yes, I realize they were already super famous before this commercial. I live under a rock, leave me alone.
Same story, different band. This time the band is Kaleo and the trailer is for Logan. I really, really like this song. The movie was ok.
Speaking of the movie being okay, sometimes you get great trailers for movies that you don’t even end up liking. I must have watched the trailer for The Last Jedi four hundred times, and I got excitement tears like a motherfucker. The end result, not so satisfying. Still, great commercial:
Man, that music is good. But the the absolute king of the “Good Trailer, Bad Film” phenomenon has got to be 2009’s Watchmen:
Listen, I get that these are just ads. I realize that I’m just watching a commercial over and over, and getting excited to consume a product. I also realize that none of the movies I’ve played a trailer for has exactly been Un Chien Andalou. What can I say? I’m a basic bitch.
Even though I’m aware that these are often just cheap pieces of emotional manipulation, there’s a part of me that enjoys being manipulated. I like that night-before-Christmas feeling of anticipation you get for a movie you’re waiting for, or the exhilaration that comes from seeing your first look at an actor in a role, or a new character reveal. Trailers are fun. I like having my tears jerked.
Before I go, I will leave you with this, the last trailer (as of this article) to make me cry excitement tears. It should be clear by now that I have a type; clearly I like sci-fi and superhero movies. I’m not denying it—I said I was a basic bitch. So with that in mind, here it is, the trailer for the greatest crossover event in cinematic history. I still get chills when Thanos steps out of that portal. Destiny arrives, indeed:
Oh, what the hell, here’s one more trailer I loved, 2009’s Star Trek. Real talk, I think I just like it when Eric Bana yells, “Fire everything!”
What about you? Ever gotten so excited you just cried? Leave us a comment or hit us up on Twitter and let us know!