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Whilst Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, George Lucaset al. get all the credit for the successes of the likes of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, Drew Struzan hardly merits a mention. Yet almost everyone would recognise his work and – indeed – a fair few will have it proudly displayed on their walls. Yep, Struzan is responsible for some of the most iconic movie posters of all time. The epic montages that typify the posters for the Star Warsuniverse. The classic Michael J. Fox pose as he raises his sunglasses and checks his watch in the Back To The Future. The man even designed the original logo for Industrial Light and Magic.
Book The Art of Drew Struzan collects numerous projects of the artist, from some of the most film franchises of all time to – erm – Waterworld. It’s a lovely collectible coffee table book that includes unused designs, concept art and – of course – plenty of examples of his brilliant posters.
The book also works as a reminder as the importance of the movie poster and how’s it diminished over the past few years. You can’t make a film nowadays without photos turning up online, footage being leaked and audiences generally knowing everything about the movie months before they’ve even seen it. As such, many movie posters nowadays seem half-hearted affairs in which Photoshop is liberally used and any notion of originality isn’t. There is the odd glorious exception (such as the minimalist delight that illustrated Duncan Jones’ low key sci-fi picture Moon) and cinemas such as the Alamo Drafthouse in Texas do some brilliant re-interpretations of poster classics. But there was a time when the movie poster was your first – and often only – tantalising glimpse of forthcoming delights at your local fleapit. A good poster would excite your interest in a film, give you ideas about what it was about and make you wait in breathless anticipation for the time it would actually come round to be screened. And, of course, many of them simply looked damn good.
Yes, the movie poster may be advertising: but at its absolute best, it can also be art. Here’s a selection of 10 of the best movie posters of all time (in no particular order).
Struzan’s artwork was finally rejected for the original release, but when Ridley Scott re-released the film he turned and requested Struzan’s work. A noir tinged delight.
Tarantino has always given good poster and, whilst Reservoir Dogs was close in the iconic stakes, Pulp Fiction just manages to beat it. That faux book cover. Uma Thurman looking sexy as hell. It’d make you want to see the film even if you’ve never heard of Taratino, Travolta, Jackson or ‘Royale With Cheese’.
It looks beautiful. However at $690’000 for the original it’s also one of the most expensive movie posters of all time. That dog eared copy of the poster for Leprechaun may look like crap, but at least you’re not going to have a heart attack as soon as you see the Blu Tak start to seep through.
In The Loop
A great example of a modern poster that captures the zeitgeist. Those who get the reference to the Obama campaign will love its cheeky relevance to Armando Iannucci’s political comedy. And those who don’t just think it’s a really cool image of Peter Capaldi and swearing.
Saul Bass is an absolute genius. What else is there to say?
Anatomy of a Murder
Saul Bass is STILL an absolute genius.
Revenge of the Jedi
A poster for a movie that never was. Yes, Revenge of the Jedi was going to be the title for the third of the original Star Wars trilogy until Lucas decided that the Jedi would never do something as petty as going after revenge. Almost sleeping with your sister is fine though. Consequently this poster – another dramatic effort by Struzan – is quite rare.
Simple. Minimalist. Damned creepy.
A poster from a time when men were men, women were women and large hairy apes enjoyed romantic dates on the top of skyscrapers. The beautiful artwork makes the poster seem almost as epic as the film itself.
A cartoon aesthetic that mirrors the black comedy at the heart of Kubrick’s classic.
'The Art of Drew Struzan' is published by Titan Books and is out now, click below to buy.
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