It would have been thrilling to have been around in the 70s to witness those foreboding billboards for The Exorcist, or the disconcerting adverts for Alien, at a time when a sense of ‘the other’ was probably more acute.
Let’s face it, movie posters constitute some of the most iconic art works of our times; formerly adorning the facades of picture houses and now propagated through endless multi-media channels due to cinema’s enduring presence at the heart of popular culture.
A good movie poster needs to invoke a sense of intrigue in the viewer. Modern horror movie posters often opt for disturbing images, which force the viewer to register the image rather than the way The Exorcist conveyed a sense of eeriness and subtlety, coercing the viewer into the films trap.
Remember some of those truly iconic billboards like Vertigo with the falling man inside the Spirograph. It may not be the instant hit associated with many newer artworks, but it is subtly brilliant.
The Jaws poster tapped into out latent fear of sharks, and how downright creepy the animal world can be. The ferocious image of the shark looms under the water appearing to be ruthlessly homing in on the oblivious swimmer. Again it’s capturing our attention then letting our minds fill in the blanks.
The poster for The Graduate starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft isn’t dissimilar. In the foreground and most prominent part of the picture we have the stockinged leg for immediate titillation, with Hoffman looking on as the tentative voyeur: Hoffman basically represents you, the viewer. The tag line “This is Benjamin. He’s a little worried about his future” subtly draws the observer into the fantasy.
Forrest Gump saw a highly vivid image of Tom Hanks sitting on a park bench, back to the camera, with face angled towards the viewer. Once again it fired curiosity on a very human level, imagining an outsider in such vivid detail and inviting us into his world.
Then there’s the Batman poster for the 1989 movie. It was all about style, in terms of that glorious black and gold font. The classic black and gold colour combination gives a sense of darkness entwined with power.
For a taste of modern poster narratives, take a look at the images for the Game of Thrones series which you’ll see on many a bus-stop, website or magazine. The images convey a sense of magnitude and awe, much like the recent Prometheus campaign. It appears the TV series is now every bit as ‘big’ as the blockbuster movie.
There’s a trend to use these iconic works as poster art using services like Instant Print. They certainly add character to a room as opposed to generic landscapes, and they go some way to announcing your artistic leanings and your character in the same way a CD or book collection might.