Sermons are boring. Or so it is said. The way we human beings receive and process information has been evolving and changing during this era of mass visual media, and as we move deeper and deeper into this form of storytelling, the old ways are increasingly archaic. I'm painfully aware of this, as a regular bearer of the spoken word.
I was reminded of this last night when I watched, for the first time, the trailer for "The Hobbit: No, We Still Aren't Done." Trailers aren't just intended to inform and stir interest. They need to be stimulating, to create a sense of visceral excitement and engagement.
Perhaps it is that my mind is slowing as I age, but I find the choppy hyperkineticism of this form of media moderately irritating. The pacing is alien to my way of thinking, and...even though I'm immensely fond of Tolkien and mostly looking forward to seeing this film...I found myself not excited. Just vaguely put off, the way I am when some fast-talker tries to sell me something.
It'll work for most of us, though. It leaps out and grabs you, in a way that the spoken word just doesn't. I mean, the above trailer is two minutes and four seconds long. During that time on a Sunday, I've just about finished introducing the story/image/concept that I'm going to use to frame the text.
But the trailer? It's a whirl of images, a great gusher of visual data that establishes an entire film. In two minutes, nearly seventy separate shots. You can watch it above, but I took a moment or two this morning to roughly catalogue them:
Hobbit Trailer Breakdown:
0:00 - 0:05 Corporate Logos, Fadeaway.
0:06 - 0:08 Hey, wait, is this a Paramount Film? I thought it was WB/MGM/Newline. Are they all the same now?
0:10-0:13 Little CG Dudes in CG Panoramic Longshot.
0:14 - 0:16 Real Dudes in CG Panoramic Longshot
0:17 - 0:19 Little CG Dudes in CG Panoramic Longshot.
0:20 - 0:23 Elf with Funny Hat Talks to Moody Dwarf.
0:23 - 0:26 Dwarves Falling.
0:27 Butterflies! Oooh! Pretty!
0:28 Dwarves Falling.
0:29 - 0:31 Elves Running and Shooting Arrows at the Aforementioned Falling Dwarves.
0:31 - 0:33 A CG Tree.
0:34 - 0:35 “Beyond Darkness”
0:36 - 0:39 Elf Sliding and Threatening to Shoot Arrow at Moody Dwarf.
0:40 - 0:42 A Bear! Maybe. The Hobbit Whips it Out. His Sword, That Is.
0:43 - 0:44 Lady Elf! Also, She Shoots Arrows.
0:44 - 0:46 Crane Shot of CG Town.
0:47 - 0:49 Elf and Lady Elf Talk About Fighting, Crane Shot
0:50 - 0:51 Hobbit Sliding.
0:52 - 0:53 Wizard in Derpy Hat Frets.
0:54 Crane Shot of CG Ruins.
0:55 - 0:59 Magneto - Wizard Whips it Out. His Sword, That Is.
1:00 - 1:01 “Beyond Desolation”
1:02 - 1:03 Little CG Dudes in Longshot of CG Building
1:04 - 1:05 Smouldering Elf Eyes
1:06 - 1:07 Elf Walking towards CG Woodland
1:07 - 1:08 Some Dark Place.
1:09 - 1:10 CG Fighting, Zoom to Big CG Orc with Metal Chicken Hand.
1:11 - 1:12 Hobbit Hides from Large Spider.
1:13 - 1:14 “Lies the Greatest Danger of All”
1:15-1:16 Another Dark Place.
1:17 - 1:18 Moody Dwarf Slowly Rotates.
1:19 That Townie Metalhead You Knew in College Needs a Lozenge.
1:20 Wizard Slicing Enemies.
1:21 Elves Slicing Enemies.
1:22 Hobbit Surfaces.
1:22 Big Boot Stomps.
1:23 Dwarves Falling Again.
1:23 Orcs Slicing, Elf Dodging.
1:24 Elf Shooting Arrows.
1:25 Lady Elf Falling, Shooting Arrows.
1:26 Someone Jumps on a Wizard from Very High.
1:27 Lady Elf Dodges an Attack.
1:28 It's the Hobbit Falling This Time.
1:29 Moist Dwarf Swings His Sword at You. That’s 3D Right There!
1:30 - 1:31 Black Screen, Thunder
1:32 - 1:36 Dwarf Stands Up, Turns Around.
1:37 - 1:39 Dwarf Tells Us What We Already Know.
1:40 - 1:45 The Name of the Movie. They Give Us Four Seconds to Read It.
1:46 - 1:56 Two Shots of Hobbit and Dragon! Ten Whole Seconds! Man, this is Slowing Down....
1:57 - 2:04 Studio Information.
This is what is needed to excite us, to stir us, to make us hunger for more stimulation. But the spoken word just can't do what this does.
If I preached like this, I'd be barking out short sentence fragments and clauses, interspersed with barked monosyllabic words. Which I guess some folk almost do.
Sigh. So it goes.