Did the trailer for 1917 give too much of the game away? Sam Mendes responds to that very question.

Without going into any detail, one of the latest movie trailers to attract criticism for, let’s politely say, ‘showing information in the second half of the film’ is that for Sam Mendes’ latest film 1917.

Several trailers for the film have been released thus far, and so we won’t say which one we’re referring to. But in a 12 month period where one or two trailers appear to have given far too much of the game away, questions have been asked about the promotional campaign for the Oscar favourite.

On last Friday’s Kermode & Mayo’s Film Review programme on Radio Five Live, Simon Mayo interviewed Mendes and put the very question to him. It was quite a circumspect answer.

“We have to try and get people to come and see it”, Mendes argued, in a friendly way, noting that they were making an enormous movie without movie stars. “There’s a constant debate about this, and I as a storyteller it literally gives me physical pain to think I might have given away what happens in the story”.

Mendes argued too that the trailer doesn’t actually tell you that much, given that images are presented out of sequence in the promos. “We did work very hard to make sure that one or two significant plot points were protected from the audience”, he added.

Interestingly, he also noted that cinema was fighting television, and that film trailers as a consequence were giving slightly more away. In fact, assuming you’ve watched 1917, it’s well worth listening to the whole interview, not least where Mendes talks about the paradox of watching editing shots in the trailers, when the film is barely edited at all.

Here’s the full interview, and 1917 is in cinemas now.

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