The Joker movie trailer dropped a few days ago and the fanaticism of fan boys and the internet residents in general has reached epic proportions. Every passing day we are reading/ watching new content which is dissecting the trailer, referencing previous material on the legendary antagonist with everyone agreeing in unison that this version may just be the most poignant look at his life and a fulfilling story of the criminal Clown.
This made us think, if the Joker trailer is the best one ever? Yes, big statement this I know, but have you felt a rush of a symphony of multiple emotions rushing to your mind as you focus singularly on the expressions of a man who goes through a lot? The Joker trailer made me feel like that.
To put in perspective, I am also sharing the top 4 trailers ever to have come out of Hollywood here:
Alien : The Alien trailer uses Fear as an accompanying atmospheric to show a sweeping shot of space and the threat which looms in the deepest corners of the universe. With the famous lines “ In Space, no one can hear your scream”, the Alien trailer stands as a trail blazer in terms of creating intrigue as well as establishing tonality for a space movie.
The Shining : Another trailer with minimal words but captivating haunting imagery. Even in the couple of minutes of the trailer, you feel trapped in that God forsaken house and within a minute of the trailer is the chilling payoff which is enough to get your attention, if you were not attentive already. Stanley Kubrick after all!
Back to the Future : It all started with this one. At the very least, Back to the Future made time travel and all the fancy gizmos cool. The 1985 film directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Micheal J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson made fantasy mixed with science fiction with sprinkling of a good dose of humour to make it a really fun watch. The trailer used the right sequences to get the public hooked and also endear Marty to the audience and make teenagers want to ride the Delorean.
Mad Max : Fury Road : Raging Fire, sand, men hurtling across the desert in crazy looking vehicles with Tom Hardy strapped to the front of one of them. Mad Max fully justified the name, with some of the most crazy cinematography ever seen. The trailer starts with the lines “ My name is Max. My world is Fire and Blood”, and yes, I can confirm that there was much more than fire and blood in the movie.
Now, coming to the recently released trailer for Todd Phillips’s Joker, we are introduced to a very different world, a very different Gotham; one which doesn’t know the Dark Knight yet. Nor is there a Joker. For the longest time, we haven’t ever been able to imagine Gotham without one or the other. This is not a good space for a director to be in. We are a prejudiced lot to begin with. The last great memory of a psychologically compelling portrayal was that of Heath Ledger, no points for guessing. As talented as Jared Leto was, his Joker felt something out of a pulp-fiction novella, a stereotypical megalomaniac whose personality just felt hollow, no thanks to the script that had his cameo as an afterthought.
In this trailer, we see the city changing through Arthur Fleck’s eyes. He is a man who has every reason to give up, and yet he lives for his mother, who seems to be afflicted with a mental disorder. He does odd jobs, dressed as a street-clown, waving sign-boards, but he doesn’t mind it. The premise feels oddly reminiscent of Frank Miller’s The Killing Joke where Arthur is a struggling stand-up comic trying to support his wife, and who later gets embroiled with the mafia. In fact, we do catch a glimpse of him with a mic. But Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker feels far more human, a broken-down outcast who has never had a life of his own. His hunched shoulders and the cadaverous frame, a testament to the absence of vitality in his very being.
But then something changes. The decadent city spreads its filthy arms and drags a decent human being down to its level. Some unknown event, probably related to his mother, tears him apart. We see him walking into Arkham but his face tells you a story of despair. Maybe he has lost his job and run out of money to help treat his mother. Maybe he watches her fall deeper into insanity. Maybe she forgets who her son is. And that’s how he loses his last link with society. The last leg of utter detachment. The man who comes after is not the beaten-down Arthur Fleck anymore. His gait has changed. He walks with purpose now. His eyes have changed. Now, he owns the city. He has accepted its abhorrent personality with open arms.
You might say that the trailer gives a lot away. But we hardly mind, because Joaquin Phoenix’s metamorphosis is exciting to watch. Maybe as exciting as Walter White’s transformation from a meek school-teacher to a towering druglord. More than the origin story of one of the greatest comic characters ever written, this is a powerful human story in itself. The colours reel you into his world as he dances to anarchy on the stairs of destiny. This study in contrasts is accentuated by his own words – “I thought my life was a tragedy. But then I realised, it was a comedy.”, as he dumps the clown-mask into the trash and turns his own face into a living masquerade. A performer without inhibition, the one who has nothing to lose. A transcendental poetry in motion.
We have never been more excited for a film.