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People have long considered that movie posters are beautiful enough to become framed works of art, but what makes a poster so successful? Here, we take a look at what we believe to be the 7 most effective movie posters.
You’ve probably seen it framed on the living room wall in your mate’s first flat. The movie poster for the film Scarface is the epitome of cool. Unlike most posters, which leave the image to do all the talking, the poster for Scarface has a small paragraph on the left-hand side, sharing a chilling synopsis of the film. Using a varied mixture of font sizes and a simple colour scheme of red, black, and white, the poster is bold and in your face.
6) Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The colourful and beautifully drawn poster for Breakfast at Tiffany’s shows off what has become one of the most iconic images in cinema: Audrey Hepburn clutching a cigarette holder between her lips. Using a bold and black font, Audrey Hepburn’s name takes the main focus of the poster. In an era that was brazenly stepping into colour cinema, this poster tries to show off every shade it can, such as the bright red movie title that draws in the eye. The pure white centre brightens the poster hugely, ensuring the colours don’t become too tasteless, and separates the elegance of the little black dress and the romance of the kissing couple.
5) Rosemary’s Baby
The Rosemary’s Baby poster completely represents the sinister and dark plot of the film. In the foreground is the silhouette of a baby’s pram, standing on the precipice of a rocky hill, foreshadowing the danger the baby will face in the film. The words, such as title and cast, are printed small and solitary beneath the image, where they barely stand out. Instead, the eye is directed to the striking sans serif, modern and white tagline “Pray for Rosemary’s Baby”. This poster revolves primarily around visuals rather than descriptive text, letting the viewers use their imagination.
4) Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace
Despite being considered one of the worst films in the Star Wars franchise, the poster advertising Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace completely got it right. Using the image of a small child with the universally recognised shadow of Darth Vader behind him, it foreshadows the origin story of one of the world’s most famous movie villains. With the only text on the poster being “Star Wars Episode 1”, this poster is a great example of how a picture is worth a thousand words.
Vertigo’s poster is possibly one of the most artistic of the 20th century. The font and character drawings are both typical of the modernism era, suggesting that the film will be a breakaway from traditional cinema. The threatening white spiral that engulfs the two characters is exactly in the middle of an overwhelming pool of red. This portrays suspense, thrill and danger. The font is frenzied, ensuring that the simple colours don’t appear uninteresting. Including “Alfred Hitchcock’s Masterpiece” cleverly suggests that Vertigo would be his best film yet, enticing viewers to watch, and is a technique that is regularly used in modern-day posters.
2) A Clockwork Orange
A dangerous film with a dangerous poster, A Clockwork Orange advertises a message of menace and taboo. Although the typeface for the poster can be seen as juvenile and playful, the tagline contradictorily promotes the film’s use of “rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven”. Malcolm McDowell sports the famous eye makeup and brandishes a small knife whilst staring directly at the audience, which becomes quite frightening once you discover his twisted grin. The colour selection is very simple, ensuring no focus is taken from McDowell’s glare.
1) Black Swan
The juxtaposition of light and darkness completely captures the opposing personalities in Black Swan. The colour of the central ballerina is the same as the creamy-white background, yet is overshadowed by the looming presence of a graphically simple black swan. The touch of red in the swan’s beak is the same blood shade of the movie title, creating an inevitable sense of danger. The font, a modern 1920s Art Deco sans serif styled font, pays homage to the style of poster used to advertise classic ballet. A simple colour palette and a cleverly chosen font is why Black Swan deserves the number one spot on my list of effective movie posters.
A Clockwork Orange: Warner Bros.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Paramount Pictures
Black Swan: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Rosemary’s Baby: Paramount Pictures
Scarface: Universal Studios
Vertigo: Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions
Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace: Lucasfilm