Roman Jakobson Revisited The Multimodal Trailer Event

By Heike Krebs

Taking Roman Jakobson’s functions of language as a starting point, this paper develops a multimodal application of Jakobson’s linguistic theory in order to describe the communicative functions of the trailer for the first James Bond film, Dr. No (1962). The trailer as the main advertising instrument within film marketing seems especially apt for this aim, given both its modal complexity and clear functional purpose of selling the film. Yet, contrary to the assumption of the conative function being most central in a trailer, a closer analysis on the micro level of the different visual, auditory and filmic modes a trailer offers shows that the expressive and referential functions are more elaborate and, thus, predominant. Other functions, such as the phatic, poetic and metalingual/metamodal functions stay in the background, still being central in that they provide the viewer an aesthetic and exciting viewing event and therefore a possible reason for wanting to watch the advertised film itself.