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Film Posters as Art

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by Grand_Moff_Monkey, Aug 15, 2002.

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  1. Grand_Moff_Monkey

    Grand_Moff_Monkey Jedi Youngling star 3

    Nov 29, 2001
    I'm starting this thread as a discussion about the art of film posters. What makes a poster "art"? Is it art at all? Or is it simply a marketing tool?

    It would be good to mention specifics and post images for discussion.

    I'll start the ball rolling. One of the most effective film posters that I've seen is for the original Alien:


    Quite aside from being a technically good picture, it works well for a few reasons:

    1] It gives nothing away about the alien. The film is called Alien and we see an egg, so we naturally deduce that there's an alien in there. But the horror of what it actually looks like is unseen. So it engages the imagination and arouses curiosity about the nature and appearance of the alien.

    2] An effective use of colours. A barely lit egg against a black background... with green flooding out of it. The picture captures the mood of the film very well. A gloomy, atmospheric film with a dark sense of foreboding.

    3] The poster is a metaphor of the film. It defies convention by going against what you would ordinarily expect to see. The egg appears to be floating, rather than resting on the ground below it. It's almost as if it has a life of itself, just like the alien in the film. Or the egg could be a metaphor of the Nostromo, floating in blackness - but it's cracking. The alien is about to be revealed.

    Anyway, Alien was just an example. Discuss what film posters you think work well and why. Feel free to carry on discussing Alien, or bring up a new film.

  2. Rogue1-and-a-half

    Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Nov 2, 2000
    A few years back, the American Film Institute released a list of the 100 best Movie posters. I don't recall much about it. I don't think I ever really looked at it.

    I will, however, agree with most of the things you've said.

    A poster can be art if it meets certain standards. It must not give too much away, as you mentioned above. It must be striking. It's hard to quantify that one. It's just like any other art. It needs to cause a reaction.

    One of the best recent posters was for Van Sant's totally unnecessary remake of Psycho.


    The issue of not giving the story away is left aside here, seeing as it's a remake.

    And as for the reaction, well, it's immediate. There is something unsettling about the image we see and yet, it's also very familiar, which in turn makes it even more unsettling.

    Another good one is A Midnight Clear.


    It tells us nothing about the story and yet it provokes the immediate reaction of isolation and desperation.

    So, yes, a movie poster can be art. It's hard to quantify what makes it art though. Like any other art, it's in the eye of the beholder and it must move me on an emotional level before I'll consider it art. It must be beautiful in a way that one can't describe.

    It can be art. And it often is.
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