The Art of the Sell: “Fearless” trailer

These posts celebrate the movie trailers, movie posters, commercials, print ads, and other promotional material that stand as their own works of art. 

Back when I was part of a crew that had an endless capacity for discussing all manner of film, one of the topics we circled back to on occasion was the effective use of pop songs in movies and trailers. This was in the first half of the nineteen-nineties, so we reserved special praise for those rare instances when some favorite song of college radio made an aural appearance. Just the presence of the song didn’t cut it, though. It needed to be used well.

In Peter Weir’s 1993 film, Fearless, the U2 song “Where the Streets Have No Name” is coupled to a particularly strong scene, so it’s not surprising that it was also deployed in the film’s trailer. In my opinion, it’s used even better in this promotional setting. The song’s slow build is matched by the procession of visuals and information. As the racing pulse of the Edge’s guitar nears its peak, the trailers races through quietly dynamic moments from the film — Jeff Bridges pulls Rosie Perez up from a bench, Bridges presses his hand on a window, Bridges is pulled toward Isabella Rossellini for a kiss — masterfully edited together. I’ve seen this trailer countless times (when I was in charge of assigning trailers to films at the movie theater where I worked at the time, I attached this to everything), and it still gives me chills.

Fearless is a flawed film, but it deserves to be better remembered. And its trailer is itself a grand piece of filmmaking.

Other entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Art of the Sell” tag.

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