Detailed Analysis - The Vow
The vow is an American romantic drama, released in 2012. The trailer opens up with the
two main characters ‘Leo Collins’ (Channing Tatum) and ‘Paige Collins’ (Rachel McAdams)
declaring their wedding vows. For example, Paige states to Leo – ‘I vow to live within the
warmth of your heart’. Due to the trailer opening up with a wedding scene, it strongly
signifies to audiences that this is a romantic genre filmbecause the conventional marriage
scene connotes love and compassion.
To help show audiences a marriage is taking place, conventional uses of mise-en-scene have
been used. For example, Paige is wearing a wedding dress and vail; holding flowers, Leo is in
a suit and tie and guests are in smart dress code outfits. Paige’s wedding dress is very
feminine and elegant, representing her as a sweet, loving and perfect woman for Leo to
marry. Whereas Leo’s classy suit connotes a smart and professional look, representing him
as a refined and well-mannered man.
Over the shoulder shots are used so that we see from the character’s point of view. This
creates a personal feel as we watch the vows being declared from the character’s own
perspective. Shot reverse shot is also used when the characters are taking it in turns to
pronounce their vows. This use of editing helps exemplify the love the couple share because
we flick back and forth to both of their faces, to watch the emotions and loving expressions
they are displaying.
The diegetic dialogue present in this scene links in with the title of the film ‘the vow’, as
Paige and Leo are proclaiming their vows. A sound bridge is present as when the characters
are talking; the shot changes to another over the shoulder shot of the other partner. The
diegetic dialogue is the only sound at the beginning of the trailer, so that full emphasis is put
on the stated vows.
Following Paige and Leo being announced as ‘Man and Wife’, they are chased out of their
wedding venue by security. This is because they are secretly getting married in an art
gallery. The rare background may have created questions for the audience, as they saw from
a mid-shot earlier on; that this is not a traditional wedding. This unusual event represents
their relationship and personalities as very fun, daring and quirky, as it’s very untraditional
to be chased away by security on your own wedding day.
Next, the trailer shows audiences Paige and Leo sharing their wedding kiss after being
evicted from the art gallery. The close kiss shows intimacy and romance in the couple’s
relationship, with their wide grins demonstrating how happy in love they are. The high-key
lighting in this frame exemplifies the up-lifting and cheerful mood the newly-weds are in, as
the brightness connotes happiness. A wide shot has been used so the background is clearly
displayed to show viewers that the film is set in a busy city. As this frame is shown, cheerful
and up-beat diegetic background music begins to play. This music represents Paige and
Leo’s happy and enjoyable love.
After this frame, a slow fade transition of different shots show Paige and Leo enjoying their
married life together, whilst the gentle upbeat music continues to play. Whilst these shots
appear, we hear Leo’s voice give a voice over. He states ‘Life’s all about moments of impact’.
From this voice over we start to learn that Paige and Leo face a very difficult crisis in their
relationship. However, whilst listening to Leo’s voice over we still watch Paige and Leo’s
relationship grow from the early days.
For example, as we continue to watch, we start to learn that Leo is a very romantic man and
is extremely thoughtful and loving towards Paige. We see this with a creative use of mise-
en-scene when Leo cooks Paige breakfast, surprising her by asking her to move in with him.
These romantic surprises are very conventional to the romantic genre, as it shows the
couple are very caring and affectionate towards each other.
From the following shot we see how appreciative Paige is to the offer of moving in with Leo.
A shallow focus is used to draw attention to their faces and viewers watch Paige with a
gleaming smile; as she happily looks longingly into Leo’s eyes. She then gently whispers yes
to the offer as the shot fades out. The cheerful music continues to play as more shots of
precious memories of Paige and Leo being together are shown. These memories are very
conventional to a romantic genre trailer, as it’s quickly showing the audience how Paige and
Leo fell in love.
Leo’s voice over continues to play through these memories until we come up-to-date with
their relationship. He refers back to the ‘impacts’ and says ‘What if one day you could no
longer remember any of them?’ At this point in the trailer we watch Paige and Leo share a
loving kiss whilst in the car together. Paige is wearing a red coat. The colour red connotes
love and romance, therefore is suitable for the kiss they are sharing. However, red is also a
colour that signifies danger and viewers start to become alarmed when we see car lights
travel closer and closer to the back of the car. Paige and Leo are also in low-key lighting, so
that the high-key lighting from the car lights stand out more and worries the audience.
Suddenly the soft upbeat music turns into a loud horn from the truck behind as it smashes
into the back of the car. Then all goes silent. This loud horn is conventional as it creates
tension because the audience worry if Paige and Leo are safe and ok. This is a key element
to put into the trailer as not only is it the dramatic scene that changes the character’s lives,
but it will leave viewers with unanswered questions, which will persuade them to watch the
film. Leo’s car is red. This colour has been chosen yet again as it connotes danger and fear,
representing the distress of the crash. As the truck is very close to hitting the back of the car
slow motion is used to emphasise the tension in the crash about to happen. This also helps
The screen goes black and we next meet Paige lying in a hospital bed. It is a relief to viewers
that we see Paige is still alive, however all is not good. We watch as a nurse explains to
Paige that she has been in a car accident and is now in hospital. However, when she looks
up at Leo, she sees an unfamiliar man who she presumes is her doctor. Diegetic background
music begins to play again, however this time it is very slow and depressing music to reflect
the sadness in the scene. The camera focuses in on a close up of Paige to show her
emotions, so that we can see her confused face as she looks at Leo and doesn’t recognise
him. Mise-en-scene has also been used to emphasise Paige’s injuries. For example, she is
lying on a hospital bed in a patient’s gown with breathing tubes. This shows viewers she was
the one hurt in the crash, not Leo who is uninjured and standing by Paige’s bedside. Shot
reverse shot is also used to show the confused and worried emotions in Paige and Leo’s
faces during their conversation.
This is the next frame in the trailer. From this we can immediately see that the filmis of a
romantic genre. This is because it’s being released on Valentine’s Day, advertising it as the
perfect filmto watch with your partner. Sans serif fonts have been used as they connote
youth and modernity, demonstrating that the film aims at a young adult target audience.
The typography is the colour white, which connotes class and sophistication; giving the
trailer a professional touch.
Upbeat music begins to play with a female voice singing in the background. This fast paced
beat reflects the worried emotions flying around in Leo’s head, as he shouts to the nurse
‘She doesn’t remember me!’ The nurse tries to reassure Leo by telling him ‘her memory is
going to improve over time’. However, we see this is not enough to calmLeo down. A
shallow focus next shows Leo with a saddened angry face, looking down to the ground
whilst pulling on his hair. The shallow focus puts emphasis on Leo’s face as the background
is blurry, allowing viewers to concentrate on the emotions Leo is showing and audiences
pity him. We can also see that Leo is feeling extremely stressed due to him pulling back his
hair, as this is a conventional action people carry out in a stressful situation. After watching
this, Leo breaks down as he slides his back down a vending machine and sits on the floor in
tears. In both of these frames the colour scheme has carefully been chosen to reflect the
distressed mood. For example, the background is a mix of dull blues and greys, as well as
Leo wearing a plain grey t-shirt. This gloomy and dismal colour scheme represents the
depressing time and exemplifies how low and heartbroken Leo is feeling. At this point in the
trailer, the audience worry if Paige and Leo’s relationship will last and it leaves many
unanswered questions which intrigue viewers to watch the film.
A few frames later, with the upbeat music still playing helping to draw audiences in, we
watch Paige hold back Leo and tell him ‘I don’t know you’. This is a heart breaking scene
which is conventional for the romantic genre, as it is typical to have a relationship that faces
many difficulties and is on the rocks. The dialogue from Paige concerns the audience as we
see she is no longer in love with Leo. In the frame, we look up at Paige from a low angle, as
she is standing on the stairs above Leo. This is because Paige is fiercely telling Leo she no
longer knows him, therefore her being at a higher level emphasises her sternness to a
helpless Leo who cannot recover his wife’s memory. Yet again, the background colour is of a
gloomy blue, with Leo and Paige both in dismal blue coloured tops. This miserable shade of
colour represents the disheartening and depressing time the characters are experiencing.
Paige next shouts ‘I barely even know who I am’. This creates sympathy from viewers as Leo
has lost his wife, however Paige has lost half her life as she can no longer remember her
memories, friends or husband. However, later in the trailer we see Paige’s stubbornness
towards Leo fade as she is looking at old photos and videos of their relationship, to try
trigger her memory. We see Paige looking at old photos of her and Leo enjoying life
together and a few frames later she also watches her wedding video. This frame links back
to the beginning of the trailer, as it is the same clip from the start where Paige is declaring
her vows to Leo. As Paige is watching her wedding video, she lovingly smiles back at the
screen. This gives the audience hope that Paige may fall back in love with Leo. A voice over
of Leo’s voice is now present and we hear him say ‘I need to make my wife fall in love with
me again’. This is conventional for a romantic genre as despite all the obstacles, Leo hasn’t
given up on Paige and he is willing to fight for his wife’s love. Due to this glimpse of hope in
reuniting Paige and Leo’s love, the background music becomes faster and more up-lifting,
which inspires audiences.
The next few frames introduce us to the actors in the film. For example, Rachel McAdams
and Channing Tatum are both revealed. Along with the actor’s names, other successful
romantic films they have both starred in are listed. For example, ‘The Notebook’ (with
McAdams) and ‘Dear John’ (with Tatum) are two of the most popular romantic genre films.
Therefore, introducing big-name Hollywood actors and other similar successful films will
easily promote ‘The Vow’, by persuading viewers who enjoy this genre to watch. Sans serif
fonts have been used as they are modern and signify youthfulness, demonstrating that the
film targets a young adult audience. White is the chosen colour for the typography because
it’s very classic and signifies sophistication; giving the trailer a professional touch. Attractive
shots of the actors have also been used. High-key lighting is present on both of their faces;
whilst they pose with a friendly widely grin. The brightness and smiles connote happiness,
demonstrating to audiences that this filmhas an enjoyable love story.
Leo’s voice over continues as he explains to Paige in an emotional scene ‘I’ll always love you,
fact is you’re just meeting me and I’m just a stranger’. This expressive dialogue creates pity
from viewers for Leo, as they feel sympathy for him losing his wife. In the background of
these frames there are dainty party lights and we see Paige and Leo dressed in smart party
clothing. A party is stereotypically a happy time where people celebrate, however Paige and
Leo are both in tears as Paige’s memory has not returned and she no longer loves her
husband. After Leo expressing that he’ll always love Paige, a close up is shown of her face.
This is used so that viewers can see the tears forming in Paige’s eyes and the sad emotions
written over her face as she replies saying ‘I hope one day I can love the way that you love
me’. From this we can gather that Paige cannot fall back in love with Leo, however she does
realise how much he loves her. Leo finishes the conversation by saying ‘How do you look at
the girl you love and tell yourself it’s time to walk away’. Viewers can now presume from
this that Paige and Leo’s relationship has come to an end as he cannot win her love back.
This is a tear-jerking part in the trailer, which is likely to lead viewers to watching the whole
Following these last few frames and the
emotional dialogue, we can presume
Paige and Leo have split. However, we
next see Paige walking on her own with
coloured lights behind her. This use of
high-key lighting is very conventional
because it lights up Paige and gives a
very angelic and elegant feel, whilst the ray of colour also connotes happiness. This all
represents Paige as the same cheerful and loving girl that Leo first fell in love with, showing
viewers that she is still the perfect woman for him. We can also notice the soft smile across
her face, which makes the audience question if she has fallen back in love with Leo.
We are next introduced to a frame saying ‘Can a once in a lifetime love find a second
chance?’ A rhetorical question has been used so that the missing answers intrigue viewers,
meaning they are persuaded to watch the whole film. The words ‘second chance’ give a
glimpse of hope to the audience that at the end of the filmLeo and Paige do have a second
chance, as Paige falls back in love with Leo for the second time. Yet again sans serif fonts
have been used as they connote modernity and youth, which shows ‘The Vow’ is aimed at a
young adult target audience. Also, the classy white colour used signifies a professional look
to the trailer.
The trailer starts to come to an end with flashing events that have happened since the car
crash. However, Paige and Leo seem to be enjoying their time spent together. For example,
Paige is giggling away at Leo whilst sharing a box of chocolates. A box of chocolates are seen
as a conventional romantic gift and after watching Paige laugh with Leo we start to wonder
if she has fallen back in love with him. There is also an opened bottle of wine next to them
and to audiences this appears that Paige and Leo are on a date together. A voice over of Leo
pronouncing his vows from the beginning of the trailer starts to play. He says ‘I vow to love
you and no matter what challenges might carry us apart we will always find a way back to
each other’. This vow perfectly suits their relationship as they have been hit with a massive
challenge; however can Leo find a way back to Paige?
The last frame of the couple is of Leo holding Paige’s hand and gently kissing it. This
romantic gesture signifies that Leo has kept his vow to always love her and find a way back,
but it leaves viewers with a crucial unanswered question. Has Paige’s memory returned and
has she fallen back in love with Leo? This unanswered question is conventional in trailers as
in persuades viewers to watch the film to find out. The upbeat background music then
comes to an end with the vocalist singing ‘We are one’. This leaves the audience wondering
if these lyrics represent Paige and Leo who are back in love and living life as a happily
married couple once again.