A Movie Is Not Its Plot, by David Bax
I have not watched the new trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. If you know me, this probably won’t surprise you. It’s not that I have a particular grudge against that movie. It’s that I generally don’t watch trailers as a rule. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t heard all the varied reactions in the aftermath the clip’s debut. One of the loudest strains of response has concerned the amount of plot given away. My first response is to wonder why people watch trailers at all if spoilers are a concern for them. Which leads to the question of what, exactly, constitutes a spoiler.
A movie is more than just the story it tells. In almost all cases, when I hear someone complain about a spoiler, however, they are talking specifically about plot points. But the narrative of a film is just one of the arrows in its quill. If you take a movie as a singular experience, an objet d’art of which no one piece can be extracted from the rest, then knowing anything at all about it is a spoiler. Casting, costumes, color timing, camera lenses, a bit of the score; the foreknowledge of any of these things dilutes the full experience just as much as knowing the plot. Trailers, by their very nature, are spoilers in every case.
Of course, I’m not saying you should avoid trailers altogether. My reasons for doing so have nothing to do with spoilers and more with my revulsion at the notion of affording something so blatantly vulgar as a commercial with any of my time or contemplation. No, what I’m really saying here is that we should all stop treating the plot as the most important part of a movie. I mean, if that were the case, there would be no market for experimental cinema. Oh, wait.