Dreifach Stern

The 'Lucky Star', or 'dreifach stern' is the name given to the three-pointed star symbol on the front of Mercedes-Benz cars. The symbol has been a trademark of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft since 1909. It was picked by the sons of Gottlieb Daimler, who had drawn similarly pointed stars on postcards to his wife, dating back to 1873. [1] The Lucky Star was first affixed to a Daimler car in 1923. 3 years later, in 1926, Daimler merged with Benz & Cie to form Daimler Benz AG. The Lucky Star continued to be used on new Mercedes cars.


The movie trailer

In the summer of 2002, a new movie trailer started showing on UK cinema and TV screens. 'Lucky Star' is directed by Michael Mann (Ali, Heat) and stars Benicio Del Toro (Traffic, The Usual Suspects). The plot concerns Mr H (Del Toro) and his seemingly endless luck.

After far-too-many viewings, I have broken the 2-and-a-half minute trailer into 11 distinct scenes. This is hopefully an accurate portrayal of the trailer. If you're not lucky enough to be living in the UK in the summer of 2002, the trailer can also be viewed (QuickTime) at www.luckystar.com.

Scene 1
- Night. A cityscape. Perhaps it's New York. We focus on exterior of a tall building.
- Cut to a car interior viewed through the front windscreen. It's Benicio Del Toro, though as his character is called 'Mr H'[2], that's what we'll call him too.
- Space. A satellite, with Earth in the background.
- More panning downtown in the city. We suddenly stop panning as the camera points straight down to see the grid of the streets below. This is how the city would look from a helicopter or a spy satellite.
- Cut to a car interior. We can only see the passenger, and it's not Mr H. It's a middle-aged black man. He looks like a senior policeman. Perhaps an FBI agent? We'll call him 'The Inquisitor', because that's what the website calls him.

Scene 2
- Interior. A stock market floor. It's loud, white-shirted chaos. A bespectacled broker is on the phone, looking worried. "You know, it's tanking man, it's tanking"
- Interior. A cool looking apartment. It's Mr H, on the phone to the broker. He's got a great view of the city below, but we can't see much of it. "Don't unload it until I say the magic four-letter word..."
- A fireball fills the screen. It's not the apartment being blown up though, it's just an exciting fade to the street below. Cars drive, red lights flash past. This all lasts for one beat.
- "...Sell"

Scene 3
- Back to the road. A sleek silver SL class Mercedes-Benz in traffic.
- Dawn. The same car pulls up outside a villa surrounded by palms.
- VO: He played the markets. He defied the odds. But no-one could guess his game.
- Hiding in long grass is a pair of binoculars. Presumably the person behind them is focusing on the arriving Mr H. We even get to see a shot through the binoculars. Lots of neat graphics around them to make them look cool and high tech.

Scene 4
- Interior. An intelligence agency? Bright artificial lighting. There is a blue coldness to the light. Perhaps created by all the monitors at all the desks in the open-plan office space below. We're not on the floor though, we're up in the glass-walled office overlooking it. Clearly the people in this room are important. A suited woman sits facing away from her desk. (As the website doesn't name her, I'm going to call her 'Female Agent') She's delivering a status report to a man. He's standing. Tall. Black. Older. It's the same man, The Inquisitor, that we saw in the passenger seat of the car earlier.
- Female Agent: "It happened again today. He shorted some stocks that crashed and brought an IPO nobody wanted."
- Meanwhile, Evilina (played by a model called Ana Christina) is getting out of Mr H's car. It's convertible, and the roof is closing mechanically.
- They both walk to the door of the villa. Another shot from the high tech binoculars as they reach the door.
- Female Agent talks over them: "It's up 84%"
- The Inquisitor, back at the agency: "So?"
- Female Agent: "So what? There's nothing. No inside trading. No fraud."

Scene 5
- Cut to a casino. Mr H is playing for big stakes. Craps? It's a game that seems to involve both dice and dominos
- VO: He had no past they could trace
- The Inquisitor: "Explain to me what's going on"
- Female Agent: "I can't"
- VO: No fear of losing
- Mr H wins the game. He grins.
- VO: The one thing he did have was anything he wanted

Scene 6
- Cut to Evilina sleeping in Mr H's apartment.
- Somewhere else, a man is standing outside the male agent's car. "Luck can run out you know? That can be arranged."
- Back to the villa. Evilina is scared. She's violently holding Mr H, whispering "They were right here in the house!"
- Mr H, whispers a reply, "You should get away from here. As far as you can"

Scene 7
- Back to the satellite. We move around it. Looks good.
- Cut to a building. Maybe inside a power station or something equally industrial looking.
- Mr H is looking worried. He's carrying a crate of something-or-other.
- As he descends a stair case he slips, and grips the handrail to steady himself.

Scene 8
- Highway. Day. The Californian desert. 3 different shots of H's car, in quick succession. From the Left, then the right, then from the front.
- Dusk. Mr H is leaving an isolated hut in the middle of the desert. It's on fire. Some tapes were visible in a closeup of the blaze. Has he burned down the building to destroy some evidence?
- The Inquisitor, VO; "There was no network, no accomplices, he's acting alone. I've got as much on this guy as I do on the Easter Bunny".

Scene 9
- Back to the power station. It's swarming with men in white coats, agents gathering forensic evidence?
- They're scanning for fingerprints, while the Inquisitor continues to voice over: "FBI, NSA, EPIC database.. nothing."
- One of the white-coated agents has found the palm print on the hand rail. He's carefully holding the rail above the handprint, but while examining it, the rail disintegrates! The agent falls over. Weird. What would make the metal rail disintegrate so spectacularly?
(NB: I had to watch that scene 3 or 4 times, and even frame by frame, to get all of this. Initially I thought that the agent fell over in the same spot as Mr H had earlier, wiping the handprint clean with his own gloved hand as it gripped and slipped down the rail. It's not a very long sequence. Not long really enough to appreciate the disintegration without slo-mo.)

Scene 10
- Exterior. Night. Mr H posts an envelope through a door in a rough part of town. Two men are watching from a car. "He's giving money to a 27 year-old woman. He's referred to her as his 'grandmother'."
- The woman in question emerges from the door in time to see Mr H walk away. Their eyes meet. She's not the Model. She's obviously not his grandmother either.
- He gets in his car. It's shiny.
- VO: He posed the one question they couldn't ignore; how could any one man be absolutely right. All of the time?

Scene 11
- A longish car sequence. Two trucks pull up - one on each side - of H's Merc. He brakes hard, making them over-shoot as he swiftly changes lanes to pass them.
- The solar system, viewed from afar. The planets are almost aligned. Back to the satellite again.
- A quick shot of the end of a (lunar?) eclipse. We're flying over the city again.
- Now inside a helicopter, chasing Mr H. The pilot is taunting him, "Come on man, we're on you. Like white on rice"
- Cut to the traffic below H's car pulls up at red lights. More taunting. "Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide".
- A long street. A dozen traffic lights in front of him. All are on red. A powerful agency seems to be at work, trying their best to trap him.
- Suddenly, all the lights turn green. Mechanical problems are causing panic in the chopper above.
- Mr H turns to Evilina "I'm just lucky.". We see the car pull away from behind. A nice shot of the light cluster.
- "Did you lose him?" Of course they did.
- A final profile shot of the luckiest man in the world driving over a bridge in his shiny Mercedes. Back to the planets, coming now totally into alignment as first the title at the top and then the credit block at the bottom are added to the shot.
- VO: Lucky star. Coming soon. See press for details.



Summary

Mr H is the luckiest man on the planet. He has everything he could want, the woman, the car and the lifestyle. Even though he's being followed by an intelligence agency, anxious to learn his secret, nothing ever goes wrong for him. His good luck protects him and allows him to take crazy risks and always come away smiling.

Like all good trailers, this one leaves the viewer asking questions. How did Mr H get so lucky? Is he just the freak occurrence, the one person in the world's population who will always roll a 6? Is there something else to it? Maybe even something Sci Fi? What, for example, is the significance of all the eclipse and the planetary alignment? In short, is Mr H even human?



A trailer for a non-existent film?

IMDB, normally well informed about films long before their release, does not carry any information about this film. It does list 2 other films both called 'Lucky Star' (1929 and 1979), another called 'My Lucky Star' (1932) and three non-English films whose titles, when translated, contain the phrase "lucky star". None of these films star Benicio Del Toro though; none is the one we've seen in the trailer.

To learn why this Lucky Star is not listed on IMDB, you have to visit the website shown at the end of the trailer, www.luckystar.com.

"Mercedes has devised a media first - a trailer for a film that doesn't exist"

The entire thing turns out to be an advertisement for the new Mercedes-Benz SL Class car. The writer was Walter Campbell of the ad agency Campbell Doyle Dye who famously worked on the 'Surfer' Guinness advert. In total, the car is on-screen for about 50 seconds of the 2-and-a-half minute 'trailer'. That's one-third of the screen time. Significantly more than the love interest model girlfriend. The car is the co-star. Watching again, when you know it's an oversized advert, you realise that the shots of the car are not just glamorous, they are gratuitous. Even the title, Lucky Star, is an obvious link to the 'Lucky Star' Mercedes-Benz emblem. As a piece of modern propaganda, the advert works well. What car would the luckiest man in the world - with the prettiest girlfriend and everything he wants - drive? Our car of course!

The trailer is a short film in itself. If you come away excited by the trailer and wanting to watch the movie though, you're going to be disappointed. However, that's not to say that Mercedes might not eventually make the Lucky Star movie. Their site also says

"if there is enough public interest and support, Mercedes has not ruled out the possibility of the film's ultimate release"
I'm not holding my breath. Much as I would love to see a full-length film develop the ideas in the trailer (if this were a movie, I'd watch it), I doubt Mercedes will have the money or inclination to pursue it any further. I am intrigued by this novel approach to advertising, so I'll be updating this with any new information.



Cast and Crew

Director: Michael Mann
The Car: Mercedes-Benz 500 SL

'Mr H' - Benicio Del Toro
'Evilina' - Ana Christina
'The Inquisitor' - David Correa
Peter Vasquez
Adina Porter



References

  1. Vintage Cars
    (A history of the 3 pointed Daimler Benz 'Lucky Star')
    - http://vintagecars.about.com/library/weekly/aa041500a.htm

  2. See it on YouTube
    - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4A3lvKuJCo

  • Guardian
    - http://media.guardian.co.uk/advertising/story/0,7492,751431,00.html

  • Boards Magazine
    - http://www.boardsmag.com/articles/magazine/20020801/

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