Just a few weeks ago, an event of epic proportions sent intense ripples of squealing and sobbing through cyberspace. That’s right–the long awaited first trailer for the film adaption of The Fault In Our Stars was released into the wide world.
Now, I was just as eager as any fan to get this first big peek at the film. After all, I was a fan of TFIOS from the moment I first opened my autographed, pre-ordered copy. I’ve enjoyed all of John Green’s previous novels and as a general follower of his growing online presence, I had heard quite a bit about his newest novel before its publication. However, I was thrilled to find that the novel actually lived up to my high expectations. I unwisely read the last quarter on a public bus–and attempted in vain to hide my sniffles and sobs. With very little help from me, the novel’s popularity has since exploded among the teens in my library. So after viewing the trailer myself, I was eager to hear their reactions.
The reactions were overpoweringly positive–with one or two exceptions. The few doubters I encountered expressed either a dissatisfaction with the casting or a concern that the movie would be disappointing. However, the majority of the teens I asked about the trailer were effusive in the their praise. One student mentioned that even though she hadn’t read the book yet, the trailer made her even more interested in getting her hands on a copy of the novel. Another literally made a plaintive whining sound when I first mentioned the trailer.
That visceral, emotional reaction seems an appropriate starting point for an analysis of the discussions surrounding the trailer in our library. As with the novel, the initial conversation about trailer centered on its ability to provoke tears. For a number of teens, it appears to have passed that crucial test: they absolutely cried while watching. Interestingly, one group discussed their current theory that the movie might turn out to “actually be better than book”– based on the fact that a few of them cried while viewing the trailer, even though they did not react that way when they read the novel. The novel and its story have already been gained a reputation in our community for their raw emotional impact–and tear-producing potential. So it seems only right that the film be judged by the same criteria.
However, as analysis evolved, we began to drill down into the details that made viewing the trailer such a satisfying experience. One teen noted that actors didn’t look “ridiculously beautiful”–they look more normal than people in films frequently do. The group also agreed that the trailer felt “low key” and that it appeared that filmmakers didn’t “overdo it” by adding unnecessary melodrama to the story. The trailer’s ‘realness’ was a reoccurring theme in the conversation. A teen commented that the characters not only looked fairly real–their dialogue felt real as well. For example, the trailer includes the scene in which Gus says, “I am in love with you, Hazel Grace. And I know that love is just a shout into the void and that oblivion is inevitable. And I am in love with you.” This moment could easily become very over the top–and after all, out of context, the line feels fairly over the top. However, this particular fan stated that she believed in the moment when she watched it; Ansel Elgort’s delivery felt genuine–just as that same moment had felt genuine on the page.
Others commented on their thrill at seeing favorite characters brought to life, including one reader who particularly loves Isaac and was especially happy to get a glimpse of him in the preview. Several teens specifically mentioned the trailer’s conclusion–with the now famous exchange: “Okay?” “Okay.” One stated that she absolutely “lost it” at that particular moment. Another mentioned that she was curious to see how the filmmakers handle the novel’s very specifically crafted ending.
Overall, there was an expansive sense of pure excitement about the film. Teens mentioned that they absolutely “can’t wait for June 6th.” And I must admit that I feel the same.
What were your reactions to the TFIOS trailer?
Are you excited, optimistic, nervous, disappointed, apathetic?
-Kelly Dickinson, currently reading The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson and Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin