Art Begets Art

Great Posters Go Hand in Hand with Great Movies

Movie posters, much like great art, become touchstones for their particular societies. Each can be understood for its own merits but also for its cultural context. In short, movie posters like great art are a fantastic subject for intimate interludes or for more casual group discussions. At any rate, a great movie poster is always a fascinating and delightful topic of conversation. Be sure to know the great ones. Here are seven that every movie buff should know.



#7 - A Clockwork Orange

Some Ultra-Violence and Then a Little Ludwig Van

A Clockwork Orange

Only the mind of Mr. Stanley Kubrick could fashion such and obscene and, yet, compelling, vision of the future. A little of the "old in and out" and then off to Korova Milk Bar the with his gang of Droogies.

The poster captures all of the latent hostility of Alex but still remains enigmatic with its triangular shapes within shapes. In addition, the entire composition is lambasted by the outrageous font chosen for the title.




#6 - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

...but the Only Thing that Scared Me was the Ether

Fear and Loathing in Las VegasMr. Depp has never captured, in a motion picture, the depths of a character as well as he did this one, his friend, Hunter S. Thompson. Remarkably, the movie poster combines the freneticism of both the actor and the original man (as well as the unique perspective pf the artist, Ralph Steadman).

The movie is an over the top romp that pretends to explain the intricacies of "Gonzo journalism." The poster invites the audience into that sad wasteland, not with a whimper, but with a bang.




#5 - Titanic

Nothing on Earth Could Come Between Them

Titanic(118215)...except an iceberg, a half-mile deep ocean and an entire lifetime. Known more for its ridiculous attempt at hyperbole, the poster has become synonymous with the overreaching literary pretensions of newly minted marketing majors.

Indeed, the poster has all the subtlety of a Ron Popeil commercal; two giant heads with their bare necks on a collison course with the most fabled ship of all time. Eyes closed, the two lovers await their fate knowing that all will be well; or maybe not. Can this be foreshadwing?

There was considerable speculation that James Cameron would, in the end, save the lovers, if not the ship, with a submersible craft or blue aliens. Perhaps, the creators of the poster were moved by this information.


#4 - Alien

In Space No One Can Hear You Scream

Alien(118216)Fortunately, for the movie-ticket buying public, the action in this fantastic movie occured, not IN the vacuun of space, but ON a well lit, well ventilated space ship. Thus, when the alien arrived, there was plenty of screaming to be had by all.

Don't miss John Hurt's enigmatic performance as the slightly dyspeptic spaceman. The real treat is the (very real) reaction of the rest of the cast when the alien explodes from Mr. Hurt's chest.

 The poster, itself, is beautiful for its understated menace and simplicity of style.



#3 - Star Wars

Nothing but Star Wars

Star WarsArguably the most contentious movie franchise in history, The Star Wars Saga, its sequels, its prequels and all its merchandising - where the real money's at - were started by this  naive and remarkably dated science fiction soap opera. In retrospect, it is easy  to dismiss the tropes and heavy handedness. Still, the movie, for better or worse, defined sci-fi fro a generation.  The movie and poster is referenced and spoofed  in popular culture across wide variety of styles and media.





#2 - The Godfather

Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli

The Godfather

Don’t shoot the messenger because this poster came in second. It is still incredible for its entwined use of the puppeteer’s control bar and the iconic visage of Marlon Brando. There are simply no movies that so succinctly define their narrative. Brando’s character, from beginning to end, is in almost complete control of every other person in the movie.


If a character displays any urge to disentangle themselves from the strings of the Don, they are immediately informed of their error. A relatively benign slap in the face, a horse’s head in one’s bed or a bullet to the throat  demonstrate the Don’s complete control of his environment.

Most remarkably, the poster from this movie makes this situation clear in just the tones of black and white.



#1 - Jaws

I Think We Need A Bigger Boat


With a single word, the diminutive picture of a carefree swimmer and an oversized depiction of a shark’s head, this poster changed the habits of a generation of recreational beachgoers.

In contrast to the previous entry, the movie poster for Jaws does create a metaphor or analogy for any part of the film. Instead, it spectacularly highlights the utter helplessness of the casual human swimmer when confronted with a killer shark. There is simply no escape.

I defy anyone who has seen the movie to not hear John Williams’ strident and menacing bass lines when they view the poster. All in all, Jaws has the best, most evocative movie poster of all time.