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Trailer Tunes: The Music in The Knight of Cups Trailer Video description
CULTUREARTICLE

Trailer Tunes: The Music in The Knight of Cups Trailer

The music in the Knight of Cups trailer tells most of the story

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: The first taste of Knight of Cups, the new Terrence Malick film that premiered at the Berlin Film Festival.

This Week's Tunes: A pulsing snippet from Hanan Townshend's original score, followed by "Farfalla," a classical-leaning piece from Amsterdam-based composer Jochem Weierink. (Note: I'm fairly certain the first snippet is from Townshend's score, though as with all things connected to Malick's movies, it's a little unclear.)

How Literal Are They? Shockingly literal! Or at least… it seems like it!  Because look: We never actually know how things are going down in Malickville. What seems like a simple tale may end up being the lead character's dream sequence before he turns into a butterfly.

For now, though, it appears Knight of Cups is about a Hollywood slickster (Christian Bale) who realizes how empty his life has become.

First we see him ogling strippers at a club and getting wasted at party. A woman whispers "No one cares about reality anymore" and a man says "I wanna make you rich." There's even a bit where a lady in a skimpy bikini drags a man around by his tie, like he's a dog on a leash.

So, you know…  it's basically The Wolf of Wall Street in Los Angeles.

But then Cate Blanchett – who's maybe his wife? –yells at Bale about how terrible he is while Natalie Portman – who's maybe his side piece? – tells him he has the capacity to love. Which launches him into this whole crisis about losing the openheartedness of his youth. Since we hear someone whisper "find your way from darkness to light," we can assume that Bale's character is going to save his tarnished soul.

This is 1000 times more conventional than anything in The Tree of Life, and the music heavily underlines the familiar story. When Bale is a bad boy, we hear ominous electronica, devoid of soul as it pounds through the speakers. But the minute he thinks about love and childhood, "Farfalla" kicks in, changing the mood to something contemplative and beautiful.

How Emotional Are They? These two pieces of music create the entire emotional impact of the preview. Yes, we hear the dialogue and see the images, but as much as any trailer in recent memory, it's the music that tells us how we're supposed to feel about everything. If the harsh techno were still playing over the last half, then we might doubt Bale's transformation, and if "Farfalla" were keeping things lyrical in the first half, then we might assume his character was a saint in hell. By starting hard and going soft, the music validates the predictable redemption arc that's suggested by the images and the words.

Again, though, I'm not sure I trust it. A trailer is one thing, but an actual Terrence Malick movie with a cliché narrative is hard to imagine.

Will We Associate Them With This Movie? Totally. One piece was written for the movie, and the other isn't available to hear anywhere but this trailer.

Overall Trailer Tune Effectiveness: These tunes spin such a simple yarn that I feel like I have to see the movie, just to know if it's the one Malick is spinning himself. 

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