As much as they are fun popcorn movies; the works of Edgar Wright are a feat of ingenuity. Like an intricately designed watch, they are a structural masterpiece, filled with astonishing detail.
‘The Cornetto Trilogy’ has become a household name. The saga involves three distinct worlds that audiences love to jump into over and over again.
The escapism is achieved by creating a world that feels real. ‘Shaun of the Dead’, ‘Hot Fuzz’ and ‘The World’s End’ involve hundreds of inter-connected moving parts. The trilogy is rich with motifs and symbolism, it is even affectionately named after one of the recurring aspects.
In ‘Shaun of the Dead’, the colour red dominates the shots; whether it be the ties worn by the salesmen at his work or the branding of his favourite icecream. The colour red constantly appears as a subliminal warning: something gory this way comes. In a playful and meta line of dialogue, Wright and Pegg actually reference it: “You’ve got red on you”.
‘The World’s End’ features the constant reappearance of rings and the colour blue. The rings reference unity. Blue is the colour of The Network so its constant presence shows their comprehensive influence.
An example of the circle motif is the alcoholics anonymous meeting in the intro. Ironically, Gary’s drinking problem is a central plot point and a pint glass rim is a circle.
A genius piece of symbolism comes in the finale of ‘Hot Fuzz’. Nicholas battles the head of the NWA, Mr Skinner in a miniature version of Sandford. It is fitting that they are fighting in a miniature version of the village, Skinner sees himself as a god of the community and they are battling for its fate.
Foreshadowing and call-backs are a key part of Wright’s work. ‘Shaun of the Dead’ features jump scare moments even before the apocalypse has arrived. Shaun is often startled by something that turns out to be innocuous. This is a playful jab at this trope of the horror genre but it is effective nonetheless.
In ‘Hot Fuzz’, action movie moments referenced by Danny are paid-off in the bullet storm finale. Examples being the moment from ‘Point Break’ where Keanu Reeves fires his gun into the air.
Foreshadowing appears in the dialogue of ‘The World’s End’. When the characters cannot get a phone signal, Andy blames it on ‘the network’. He does not yet know the deeper meaning behind the statement.
The shots of all three films are rich with background detail. This makes the films endlessly rewatchable; its frames are a window into its worlds.
Wright uses the Lynchian technique of focussing on an aspect of the environment, an example being the boy kicking the ball against a lampost. It feels like an organic part of the natural order of things.
An example from ‘The World’s End’ is the rhythmic, clockwork movement of the pub patrons. It is mesmerising, like the rolling movement of the tides. When this environment changes; the patrons stop in unison, the boy is absent, there is a feeling of something being amiss.
These three films are just the tip of the iceberg. Rumours are abound that Wright will direct the next Bond film. If his prior work, particularly ‘Hot Fuzz’, is not enough proof that he is the man for the job, I do not know what is.