It’s hard to say exactly what is driving the current spate of musical biopics that seems to be taking hold of Hollywood and never letting go, but the team at Trailaurality is all for it. This go around we have Judy, which, as the unadorned title may suggest, is less bombastic than it is contemplative.
After the now well-trod convention of the five-second micro-teaser, which focuses on 1944’s “The Trolley Song,” we are immediately greeted with a litany of logos that spring into view with the clang of a trolley bell, referencing the aforementioned tune that made Garland famous in the film Meet Me in St. Louis.
At the top of the trailer, we hear some frenetic classical violins way down in the mix as an older Garland (Renée Zellweger) checks into a hotel, sporting a hair do that one would guess pins the year around 1962 based on contemporaneous photos.
A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it montage of shots from 0:14-0:16 are synched to the three clangs of a trolly bell, which is quickly turning into a motif. This sort of musical call-out might be seen as an emergent trend in contemporary sound design for trailers; you can also hear it at 0:34 in this trailer for Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, for example.
Note also how this sequence occurs right after her dialogue, “I’m Judy,” as if the sequence represented a flash of recognition. Lastly, the first clang is synched with the celebratory clinking of glasses, semantically strengthening the link between “The Trolley Song” and Garland’s success.
At 0:23 we see a sequence of shots suggesting a series of photos, with the mechanical shutter sound in synch with the song. At 0:33 we see and hear some musical counterpoint: the smooth melody of a younger Garland contrasts with the scratchier voice of a Garland clearly dealing with some family drama.
Then at 0:43 we see a snippet of Judy in her iconic role in The Wizard of Oz; a moment later, she laments that she “[doesn’t] even have a home”—more than likely alluding to the classic line, “there’s no place like home.” At 1:25 the music changes swiftly to “Come Rain or Come Shine” with a snippet of Garland in performance; it skips ahead at the 1:35 mark to a dramatic end complemented by fireworks.
At 1:41 we hear an aural shift towards traditional dramatic trailer music, with solo piano, strings, and cymbal alongside the date title card. This is, almost inevitably, an introduction to a live version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The trailer manages to keep it fresh by including some very jazzy piano chords and otherwise focusing on Garland’s singularly identifiable vocal style. It’s a marked shift from the last trailer that used this song, to be sure.
Again, we’re shown the marked contrast between Garland’s music and her personal life—when asked if taking anything for depression, Garland deadpans “four husbands; didn’t work.”
Although the title card is studded in rubies—again, obviously an allusion to her most famous role as the slipper-toting Dorothy—it’s clear that that particular biopic is not all glitter, instead opting, to some extent like Bohemian Rhapsody or Rocketman before it, to take a deeper look at the life behind the musician.
— Curtis Perry