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'Cymbeline' Trailer: Can The Black Angels Make Shakespeare Sound Hardcore?Video description
CULTUREARTICLE

'Cymbeline' Trailer: Can The Black Angels Make Shakespeare Sound Hardcore?

The plot and the actors are all very nice, but a movie trailer's impact often relies on its soundtrack. Let's explore the latest trailer tunes and see how well they're working.

This Week's Trailer: A taste of Cymbeline, a big-screen adaptation of Shakespeare's notoriously problematic play about the titular king and his children. Ethan Hawke is... the star? I don't know. In the play, his character is secondary, but since the story has been moved to modern times, juiced up with street warfare, and no doubt heavily rewritten to address the weird last act, it's possible his role is bigger now. Ed Harris and Milla Jovovich are also in the cast, and the picture's directed by Michael Almereyda, who helmed Hawke's modern-dress Hamlet movie all those years ago. (Cymbeline is currently at the Venice Film Festival, and Lionsgate is slated to release it domestically next spring.)

This Week's Tune: From start to finish, we hear the crunchy guitar licks of "Young Men Dead" by the psychedelic rock band The Black Angels.

How Literal Is It? This movie knows what it is. People have already started comparing it to Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, what with the guns and arty-trashy settings and casting of John Leguizamo in a key supporting role. And that's fine! "Shakespearean language in a modern context" is basically its own genre, supporting everything from Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing to Kenneth Branagh's Love's Labour's Lost. Frankly, I am always down for that. All I ask is for the concept to be clear.

And the concept here looks very clear indeed. Biker gangs, highway shootouts... it's like Mad Max in verse. I totally accept that it could work. And "Young Men Dead" is a great soundtrack choice. It's got the right rocking vibe, and the title slyly references the fact that Cymbeline believes two of his sons are dead. (They're not. They were living with another family. It's a complicated play.)

How Emotional Is It? This trailer is less about emotion than style, and the song has style for days. It sounds exactly like biker rock is supposed to sound.

Will We Associate it With This Movie? The track is several years old, and it's already been featured in an episode of True Detective and several video games. I doubt this movie will claim cultural ownership of it, but then again, "Young Men Dead" is a little too generic to be memorable anyway. It indicates general bad-assery, not specific, which makes it an all-purpose trailer tune.

Overall Trailer Tune Effectiveness: I was going to see this movie no matter what, since I spent seven years studying theater at various schools. But this tune and this trailer have gotten me especially pumped.

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