Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Art of the Trailer: Treading on classic territory in the land of Oz.

The road to Oz. Treacherous ground for Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow. But forget the yellow brick road, the road to the Emerald City has an even more dangerous route - the silver screen. And any studio crazy enough to venture into the classic territory of the land of Oz has to be very certain of where its spinning house (or in this case, the wizard's infamous hot air balloon), is going to land.

Disney is that studio. The studio has decided its success with Pixar, Marvel, and its recent acquisition of Lucasfilm, along with its film franchise empire, Star Wars, has emboldened it to go where most studios with any sense would steer a course wide and clear. To be fair, Disney isn't trying to pull off a remake of The Wizard of OZ, but rather an origins story of sorts, drawn from Frank L. Baum's literary classics. And remember, this is the studio who is about to bring you Johnny Depp as Tonto in The Lone Ranger. What's a few munchkins and witches to worry about?

Which brings us to admitting our admiration for what is increasingly rare in a risk averse Hollywood these days, the guts to trust both your instincts and the creative assets you can bring to bear on a very risky project. Made obvious by the teaser trailer released in the summer, and evident even in the poster art (a sample of which we showcased on these pages just days ago), is a creative sense of reinvention, while still paying homage to the original source material and one of the truly timeless classics of movie making. To greatly understate the risks, not an easy task.

Yet, with yesterday's release of the new full length feature trailer, Disney is looking more and more like a studio who's ability to bet large piles of money on their movie projects can be matched equally to their confidence in their ability to tell great stories. It is that confidence that may be their latest and greatest resource.

I'm definitely taken by what I see here. More impressive than images of Johnny Depp made up as the Mad Hatter for a bold retelling of Alice in Wonderland a couple of years ago. Here, there is both foreboding and a gentle charm that hints at a true sense of wonderment in what this Oz may hold.

The art of the trailer is here best described in terms of the art of the moviemakers. Through the eyes of director Sam Raimi, a cast that includes James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams, music by Danny Elfman and a slew of first class production personnel, Oz the Great and Powerful shows off Disney as masters of some of the finest technical and production wizards of the day. (Does a scene showing Franco's wizard mending a broken toy doll suggest some oversight by John Lasseter?) And they also show themselves off as one of the most daring and risk embracing studios in the business. If there is, indeed, real magic in this OZ, we will definitely be paying attention to the studio behind the curtain.

Here then, the latest trailer for Oz, the Great and Powerful. Let us know what you think by sharing a comment below.

Title graphic:

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