This Video Explores How Hollywood Uses Intertextuality to Play on Your Nostalgia.
If you’re over ten or so, you probably felt chills when you saw the firstStar Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, even if you didn’t like the movie. This feeling comes from a concept called “intertextuality” and it is all over the place these days.
Note. The video above contains profanity.
As this video from YouTube Nerdwriter explains, intertextuality means one media relies on the viewer’s knowledge of another. For example, the Force Awakens trailer offers very little convincing information about its story or characters unless you’re familiar with Star Wars. Still, returning fans of the show will recognize stormtroopers, speeders, droids, and best of all, the Millennium Falcon. Each is an intertextual cue that relies on a different film to carry the emotional weight of the trailer. You can watch theRogue One trailer and find some intertext references for yourself.
Intertext links don’t have to be nostalgic. The Hunger Games plays on moments that readers remember from the book. The Warcraft movie is based on the environments and characters from the video game. The Marvel Cinematic Universe references interconnected films from various franchises. Deadpool relies heavily on viewers familiar with Ryan Reynolds’ other superhero films, such as X-Men: Origins or Green Lantern. Intertext links can be built on anything that the viewer already knows from some other property.
Of course, this does not mean that intertextuality is bad in itself. For example, Watchmen are filled with animated comic panels, which is a big plus for the film. While some franchises may use intertextual links to generate interest in a mediocre movie, others may use them to enhance or explore new areas of the story that viewers want to see. There is nothing wrong with intertextual links, but it is convenient to recognize them when you see them.
Intertextuality: Hollywood’s New Currency | Nerdwriter