Remixed movie trailers on YouTube

December 10, 2006

Several months ago, I heard about a new trailer for Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining. As practically everyone knows, it is a horror movie based on the novel by Stephen King. In fact, I remember seeing commercials for it on TV when I was about seven or eight, and I developed a fear that “The Shining” was going to come get me.

The tone of the new trailer differs radically from that of the original movie. Rather than a horror film, the trailer makes The Shining (or just Shining, in this case) sound like a life-affirming comedy, which is about an author suffering from writer’s block and “a kid looking for a dad.” After viewing the trailer, the nightmares I had been having for the past quarter-century finally stopped.

I assumed that the new Shining trailer was an isolated case. However, fairly recently, I figured out that quite a few remixed trailers were available on YouTube. I became interested when I heard about a remixed trailer for Office Space, Michael Judge’s cult comedy about cubicle life. In this case, the uninitiated would assume that the film is a suspense-riddled potboiler, with malicious activities masterminded by Milton, the original film’s put-upon office drone.

With Office Space being a cult film, it seems appropriate that creative fans would develop trailers that differ in tone from the original movie. One trailer re-imagines Office Space as a life-affirming drama, once again remixing images and dialogue, but with more melancholy music. Another one remains more or less faithful to the original plot, but it makes the scheme developed by the main character and his coworkers sound like the central focus of an action-packed caper movie.

Naturally, some remixes work better than others, and quite a few try too hard to be clever. However, here’s a sampling of some of the best:

  • The Sound of Music: This film has several different remixed trailers, but my favorite makes it seem like a horror movie. You’ll never hear “My Favorite Things” the same way again, either.
  • The Big Lebowski: Quite a few remixes for this film as well, including a life-affirming drama about John Goodman’s character Walter and a horror film. (Anyone with “language sensitivities,” you have been forewarned.)
  • Scarface: Reimagined as the romantic comedy How Scarface Got his Groove Back. (Once again, language, language…)
  • Citizen Kane: Charles Foster Kane convincingly reimagined as the original “hustler.” Complete with a smarmy voiceover and rap fit for a “gangsta.” (I shouldn’t even have to warn about language here.)

Admittedly, anyone can share a list of funny links on their blog, and it might seem out-of-place on a marginally serious one like mine. However, the remixed trailers seem relevant to the study of images in a variety of disciplines, including information science. For her dissertation, my wife researched the preferred image retrieval methods of several groups. More specifically, she focused on the ways news photographers and news photo editors categorize, store, and search for photographs. As she worked on her dissertation, we had discussions over dinner about the ways in which we perceive (and misperceive) images, the ways in which images can be manipulated, and so on. In themselves, still images have given my wife quite a bit of material with which to work. With moving images, things can get a lot more complicated, especially with sound thrown into the mix.

I think that these “remixed” trailers give perfect examples of how images and sound can be manipulated to change meaning. Due to the familiarity that students likely have with some (or many) of the films that inspired remixed trailers, teachers and professors should consider using these as teaching tools in a variety of fields. In fact, the trailers probably have the desired effect of cognitive dissonance precisely because viewers likely know about the original films already. Certainly these would be useful in information science or media studies, but they might work in political science, history, etc. Of course, some students might be inspired to do their own handiwork with sounds and images… if they haven’t done so already.


2 Responses to “Remixed movie trailers on YouTube”

  1. […] video and audio clips from an opera company’s website. I will say that, when I discovered the plethora of remixed movie trailers on YouTube, I got some inspiration to do a few of my own. My skills remain insufficient for the task now, but […]

  2. Alexwebmaster Says:

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