July 26, 2020
In our Design for Communication class we discussed how the layout, subject and font choices in promotional posters can imprint a perception of the movie on a viewer. What about the movie do we want to convey to make it more attractive? In class we reviewed some “good” examples of this, most notably from Saul Bass. But I was also interested in seeing some examples of movie posters that got it all wrong, and came across this article and was not disappointed.
For homework we were told to try an analysis of two posters.
The layout is pretty straightforward, with a centerpiece taking up the majority of the real estate. The positioning of the minor characters around the main actor suggest a hierarchy of concern in movie, perhaps this is a character study more than it is a coherent story. Visually your eye is drawn upward from the center of the image by a big V shape, thus further forcing your attention on the main character.
The combo of curly and bubble font for the main title suggests a whimsical and carefree portrayal of the character and subject matter. This is contrasted with the vibrant but dark color palette, passed out person on the beach and sunset imagery, which sets up the tension of the film by suggesting that maybe this beach bum’s best years are behind him.
I wanted to choose something older for my second movie. I’ve been a fan of Goddard’s for a while but Contempt! was his first to leave an impression on me.
Contempt! is a movie about the deterioration of a marriage. Brigitte Bardot’s character is led to believe her scriptwriter husband is using her to gain favor with a prominent producer. Whether or not her suspicion is founded is ultimately up to the viewer to decide.
The poster makes it very clear through the text that Bardot’s casting is typical of her reputation as a sex idol. The layout then telegraphs the core tension of the movie which is derived from the husband’s ambition. In the top section the husband gets ready for work, while a prone Bardot stares into space, seemingly indifferent to his presence, perhaps even despondent about what she thinks her husband might do.
All of the words are written in a severe impact font making sure we know this is a serious movie.
At the bottom the title (Contempt!) in large impact font hovers above Bardot’s head as if existing in a thought bubble of hers, centering her subjectivity as the substrate of action. The right half of her face is cast in shadow and partly covered by her hair suggesting a mood of suspicion and untrustworthiness toward the relationship in the above section.
The entire poster is cast against a field of deep red which contrasts strongly against the rest of the subdued palette and lets the viewer know this is a movie about passions, and could even be gesture toward something more bellicose.