Analysing Posters…

Posted: March 15, 2011 in Media

In class we started to analyse the importance of film posters and their purpose. This mainly being to help widen our knowledge about the subject for when we have to create our own film posters.

We discussed the fact that film posters are useful for advertising purposes mainly- to capture people’s attention so that they’ll be persuaded to then want to go and see the film itself. Much like a magazine cover and even a trailer’s main purpose ( to get the audience’s attention without giving too much away).

We also discussed that often, film posters can be quite iconic and are considered by some as an art form. Thus they become well-known and collectible items by audiences all over the world. So it is very important to consider that film posters should be create as we are, in some ways, creating a piece of art (which is helpful as I am doing art and am quite creative in areas such as this).

So we were given some posters to analyse in class (but a few I replaced with alternative posters as I could not find them and therefore couldn’t upload them) so as to widen our knowledge of what conventions we can expect from film posters- giving us ideas about whether we want to stick to these conventions/break them/what we like/don’t like in this area and so forth…

Poster Analysis no.1

‘Domino’

 

What are the main colours used in the poster and what do they connote?

The main colours used in the poster are green and yellow (with hints of blue and black often). The use of green in particular helps connote that the film promoted will be an adventure film- as the colour green connotes nature, like jungles, fields and forests. In a similar notion, how the poster uses the colour a lot indicates the film will be an adventure also, as yellow (specifically a dark yellow) connotes sand, deserts and beaches- therefore hinting that the film will be in the adventure genre. The fact the colours are all quite dark or gritty/dirty indicates the film itself could be violent and therefore connotes that it will perhaps be an action/ adventure film. The red used within the title for the actual film in itself connotes violence and bloodshed and therefore reinforces how the film itself could also fall into the action genre. It overall helps build up the audience’s presumptions of what the film itself will be like and whether they will or will not enjoy it depending on their own tastes.

What symbols are used in the poster?Do you need audience foreknowledge to decode the symbols?

 I think overall the poster’s message is pretty clear- the only thing not very clear being the words stamped in the background, which perhaps, if I’d seen the film, I’d know the exact meaning/purpose of.

What are the main figures/objects/background of the poster? Are they represented photographically,graphically or illustratively?

The main focus of the poster are the three characters. POsitioned in the centre and taking up most of the room, this indicates their importance to the film itself. The three figures also help to capture the audience’s attention themselves, mostly due to the props they’re holding and their costumes. The figures are most likely to have been photographed at first, and then graphically fitted onto the poster itself to fit in with the background etc. The background looks quite illustrative, but was probably graphically created. The stamp-like words of the background help to give a feeling of perhaps branding (indicating violence in the film itself) and the words helps insinuate what the film will be like (like ‘bonds’ could indicate the three characters in the foreground have a strong bond between them?). The fact the words seem to be an order could suggest the characters themselves have been ordered to do something- but what? And will they manage to carry it out? The fact the ‘order’ is behind them shows the characters themselves are more important than the words themselves, and are somewhat disconnected from it.

Are the messages in the poster primarily visual, verbal, or both?

I think the messages are mostly visual in this poster (though to an extent there are uses of both methods)- as the costumes, props and stances of the figures say more about the film than the writing does or pretty much anything else does on the poster. For example, the ripped jeans the characters are wearing visually indicates that the film may be full of action and maybe even rebellion, making them want to see how this is so in the film itself. The badges all three characters are wearing indicates they are some kind of authority figures- as well as linking them all together, which shows they are all connected but does not tell us if they all have good relationships between each other or not. The guns the characters are holding connotes violence and action within the film and the sunglasses (worn by the two male characters) indicate the film will perhaps be an action/adventure (as usually sunglasses are worn by those within this genre as these films are generally viewed as a bit of fun, as well as exciting and cool). Though we do get a verbal message put across to us, which perhaps help make more sense of the visual messages- the tagline ‘I am a bounty hunter’ clearly letting the audience know what business the characters are in and it makes them wonder what these characters may get up to in the film, how they get along etc

Who do you think is the intended audience for the poster?

Mostly, I’d say men are the intended audience gender-wise. Because although the only female character is put straight in the centre (indicating she may be the protagonist of the film and the others not as important) there is still more male characters on show and therefore, more characters men can possibly relate/connect to. Also, stereotypically, an action/adventure film, which is what is clearly being advertised/promoted by the poster, is a genre mostly men are going to prefer to watch. In terms of age it’s clear that children are not the intended audience for the film, nor are they in any way trying to mislead people into thinking it is- making it quite clear through the use of characters brandishing weapons and the mention of bounty hunters, clearly conveys that this film will be for more mature audiences. This is also made clear by the fact the poster has a cert.15- so audiences know instantly that you have to be 15 or over to watch it (therefore we can suggest it will have violence within it that would probably frighten younger audiences) and thus are not mislead nor disappointed.

Given that all movie posters have the same purpose- to get audiences to go and see the film- what persuasive techniques are used by the poster?

I’d say the stars of the film are one of the biggest persuasive techniques for the poster- as their figures take up the most room and are the main focus of attention. Also, mentioning popular stars such as Keira Knightley (‘Love Actually’, ‘Atonement’) and Mickey Rourke (‘The Wrestler’) are bound to capture audience’s attention, as they may like the actress/actor in particular or recognize them from a film they have previously seen/liked. The poster also seems persuasive as it appears to offer the chance of escape/adventure/fun for audience members through the connotations of adventure and the ‘lively’ style the poster is designed within. There is also that little hint of mystery (though not so much nor as compelling as other posters) wherein the audiences will be persuaded to go and see the film because they will wonder who the characters are, how they’re linked and how this all ties into the ideas of bounty hunters.

Which genre conventions are referred to?

The biggest genre conventions I think are the costumes and props within the poster. The numerous guns brandished by the characters being a convention of action films (as well as thriller/crime films)- as it connotes violence and danger. The way they’re holding them indicating an action film more than any other genre as they appear to be ‘showing them off’ and deliberately portraying the fact they are armed- making the film appear more laid back and easy going- and therefore is more likely to be an action than that of a film within the thriller or crime genre. The sunglasses I view also as a convention of action/adventure films, as it indicates hot weather (adventure film) as well as a character who doesn’t want to be recognized or is laid back (indicating an action film). The colour scheme of yellow and green itself is something I think is a convention of adventure films more than any other genre, because of the things it makes the audience members think of (like beaches, sand and tropical jungles).

 Is a star used as a USP? Where is the star in it’s mise-en-scene? Why?

The stars ‘Mickey Rourke’, ‘Keira Knightley’ and ‘Edgar Rmairez’ are used as USPs on the poster- as they will help gain audience attention through their popularity and own individual fan bases. Naturally, the stars are placed in the middle of the poster- as they are the main focus and are the biggest selling point the poster has for the film itself. As with most movie posters, the names of the stars are placed above them, at the very top of the poster, like a banner, which indicates the stars presence on the poster to help promote and ‘sell’ the film.

Are ‘expert witnesses’ (i.e critics) quoted?

No. They’re not.

What pleasures (gratifications) are promised by the poster?

I think the main pleasures/gratifications promised by the poster seem to be escape and entertainment. Escape because of the instant connotations of adventure the poster has, conveying an idea that the film, in travelling to exotic places perhaps will allow the audience themselves to escape from day-to-day life. And entertainment appears promised also because action/adventure films (which we can suggest the film to be from the poster alone) are usually thought to be entertaining, as they are not necessarily as serious as other genres, and are seen more as ‘blockbuster’ movies (movies to entertain audiences like cinema-goers). On a more specific note, the fact the film Keira Knightley, more well-known for romantic comedies/dramas than action/adventure films is thought to be one of the protagonists of the film itself, and is positioned between two masculine male characters could also indicate entertainment- as we can indicate maybe disagreements may come between them which are most likely to be entertaining.

How is attention gained (humour, shock, surprise)?

I think attention is mostly gained through mystery- the fact we are given just three characters and the mention of bounty hunters doesn’t seem to convey much solid information about the film itself. SO audiences will make what they will fo the poster, but can never be sure of who the characters are/what they do/what’ll happen to them in the film without watching it themselves. Thus it is the mystery, the stuff they aren’t told on the poster (but is hinted to) that makes them persuaded to go and see the film. Also, the fact Keira Knightley (as I said before, more known for her roles in romance/comedy/drama films) stars within a film which looks to be an action/adventure, and is brandishing a gun, may gain attention from audience through surprise- because it appears very different to the films she usually stars in and audiences will be interested to see who she plays within the film/how this change in direction may affect her credibility.

How does the tagline work?

Well I don’t think it’s that much of a tagline really: ‘I am a bounty hunter’ it’s straightforward, gives hints away to the nature of the film itself (will involve bounty hunters and therefore possibly crime, action etc) and manages to give hints without telling the audience too much about the film before they go to even see it. I think the boldness of this tagline appears like a statement of fact- and therefore could suggest a powerful character or confident/arrogant/rebellious attitude. Thus it connotes the film will be perhaps fuelled with anger and a confident attitude, like most action films tend to do.

Poster Analysis no.2

‘Inception’

What are the main colours used in the poster and what do they connote?

The main colour used in the poster is blue- varying in places from light to dark. This I think perhaps connotes different things depending on where the light and dark colours are situated. For example, Leonardo Di Caprio (as Dom Cobb, who is the main focus in the poster) is wearing a dark blue suit that is almost black in colour. This can connote he is perhaps a dark character or a character going through dark times, making audiences wonder why this is and whether he character is indeed a dark or ‘bad’ one. THe fact white surrounds him, or he seems to be facing it, connotes the character will go on a journey within the film, perhaps fighting through dark times (that he’s in currently, in the dark colours) to happier times, like reinstating the equilibrium of the film. Thus just by looking at the poster this gets audience’s wondering if he will be able to get to the ‘light’ by the end of the film and will want to see it. Somehow, I think the colour blue itself can indicate a crime/thriller film is being promoted here as blue is associated with the uniforms of policemen (well, in America) and is also quite a dark colour, connoting dark themes, which thrillers usually have. The choice to have the title of the film in red connotes there will be violence and danger within the film itself, reinforcing previous theories that the film will be of the thriller genre.

What symbols are used in the poster?Do you need audience foreknowledge to decode the symbols?

I think the fact that the city in which the main figure’s standing is flooded can appear to be a symbol- like it is referencing to maybe a disaster film or something more than that (which we’d have to see the film itself to figure out). The fact the title of the film is written like mazes appears to symbolize something about the film itself (it had to be important or else they wouldn’t put it ont he most important aspect of the poster) and naturally, audiences can only insinuate what this may mean, as they do not have enough knowledge of the film itself to know what it symbolises and only knows what the poster chooses to tell them. Also, the age of the main character itself portrays that the film is aimed at an older audience, as younger children are unlikely to be able  to connect with older characters .

What are the main figures/objects/background of the poster? Are they represented photographically,graphically or illustratively?

The poster is mainly presented photographically as well as graphically. The main figure, being Leonardi Di Caprio (as the character of Dom Cobb) is most likely to have started out as a simple photograph and then graphically put onto a different background to the original photograph. The background, being a city that is flooded, has clearly been created graphically as it is something filmmakers could not simply create and then take a picture of. 

Are the messages in the poster primarily visual, verbal, or both?

I’d say a mixture of both- as the poster visually provides visual messages towards the audience, such as the figure- Leonardo Di Caprio/Dom Cobb- is holding a gun and therefore this visually gives audience the idea that the film itself will perhaps be violent and therefore maybe an action/thriller or crime/thriller. This prop also visually displays that the film itself is aimed at an adult audience and not at young children. The fact the city is flooded provides a visual message that perhaps the film will be in the supernatural/science fiction genre, as it is showing us something that in reality, is unlikely to happen ( but it can also in some ways, can suggest it to be a disaster film). The fact Cobb is the only character on the poster provides the message to us that he will be the protagonist of the film, which is also conveyed by how he is positioned in the middle of the poster. Verbally, the tagline is vital for also conveying messages about the film itself, which ‘your mind is the scene of the crime’ suggests the idea to the audience that the film will be complex and mind bending. Mentioning crimes also reinforces previous suggests that the film will perhaps be of the crime/thriller genre. Also, by saying ‘your’ the tagline interestingly gets the audience’s attention, informally connecting them personally to the poster itself (as it seems as if the poster is personally talking to them and them only). Another verbal message is conveyed by how we are told the film is ‘ from the director of the Dark Knight’ which helpfully conveys an idea of how this film will be, as well as connecting with fans of this previous film (which persuades them to see this one when they see it is from the same director). 

Who do you think is the intended audience for the poster?

I think the intended target audience for the poster is primarily male- as the only character displayed on the poster is male- suggesting he is the protagonist of the film, and thus male audiences will be able to connect to him more, and the trials and problems he will face within the film itself. Also, naturally men are supposedly the main audience for crime/thriller films, which is the genre which is conveyed within the poster for the film itself. Also, the poster makes it clear that children are not the intended audience for the film being promoted, as the character of Dom Cobb is holding a gun- therefore connoting violence, bloodshed and danger within the film itself- thus we can gather it will not be suitable for children.

Given that all movie posters have the same purpose- to get audiences to go and see the film- what persuasive techniques are used by the poster?

Audiences are persuaded by the film poster to go and see the film itself through the aspect of mystery- the fact we are not told who the character situated in the centre of the poster is, nor is the background explained (why is the city flooded? etc) all these questions ultimately lead to the audience being  eager to know more about the film itself and therefore are more likely to go and see it. I think that stars- those behind the film- are also used as persuasive techniques, the leading actor Leonardo Di Caprio for example is a very popular actor, and thus will capture the attention of his fans, and thus will get a bigger audience in to see the film. Also, mentioning this is from the same director as ‘The Dark Knight’ persuades any audience member who has liked or seen this film, to go and see this one (as they can therefore judge they most probably will enjoy it if they have enjoyed the director’s previous films).

Which genre conventions are referred to?

Numerous conventions from different genres are referred to in the poster. The gun in the protagonist’s hand for example a common convention of crime/thriller/action films, the fact the costume of the protagonist is a dark but expensive-looking suit conveying a convention of thriller/crime films. The colour of red itself is a convention of thriller/crime films (as well as romance films, but we’ll overlook this for this poster) as it connotes bloodshed, danger and violence. The impossible background (well almost impossible) is interestingly a convention rather of supernatural/science-fiction/disaster films suggesting that perhaps this film being promoted is not just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill action/thriller/crime film- but will rather have a science-fiction and surreal touch to it- thus suggesting it will be mix of a hybrid (and makes it appear more interesting) .

Is a star used as a USP? Where is the star in it’s mise-en-scene? Why?

Within this poster star Leonardo Di Caprio is used as the film’s main USP- as he is quite a well-known and popular star for his previous performances in films (‘Titanic’, ‘Shutter Island’, ‘What’s eating Gilbert Grape?’). His importance is obviously important for selling the film itself as he is positioned in the centre of the poster, and is the only figure/character present on the poster overall, so will not be missed by audiences (the actor’s name is also positioned above, across the top of the poster itself, signifying the actor’s importance in helping to sell the film).

Are ‘expert witnesses’ (i.e critics) quoted?

Nope.

What pleasures (gratifications) are promised by the poster?

I think what the poster mainly promises to audiences is a chance to be thrilled and entertained, as well as challenged by elements of mystery and complex plots. This is indicated by the director’s previous film ‘The Dark Knight‘ being quoted (which we can argue reinforces this new film will be similar in style) which in itself was a very thrilling and entertaining film. I think the tagline ‘your mind is the scene of the crime’ and the fact not a lot is actually said about the film itself reveals that the film is offering and element of mystery (which will get specific audience interest) and also a complex and challenging plot.

How is attention gained (humour, shock, surprise)?

I think attention is mostly gained by the poster through the aspect of shock and mystery. Mystery being the main thing, as the poster does not give away or directly tell a lot about the film itself and therefore audience’s attention will be gained and they will wonder how everything links in and what the film itself will really be about. Also shock- as audience’s will be shocked to see a city totally flooded and ruined on the poster and will wonder why this is- thus gaining their attention and overall interest in seeing the film itself.

How does the tagline work?

I think the tagline is very fitting and works well, as it gives off a very mysterious atmosphere. ‘Your mind is the scene of the crime’ using those simple words ‘mind’ gives the audience the idea it will deal with perhaps psychological aspects within the film itself and maybe will be a complex film overall. ‘Crime’ reinforces ideas that the film will involve crime and/or violence, which also links to how the protagonist is holding a gun in his hand and how it appears to be promoting a crime/thriller film. ‘Your’ is the final yet equally important word choice as it directly get’s audience attention and makes them connect easily with the poster itself- because it is like the poster is talking to them and them only. As a whole the tagline interestingly, like a trailer does, gives references to what the film itself will be like but does not give too much away and inevitably leaves the audiences asking questions about the film and thus are more likely to go and see the film itself in order to answer these questions. Such as- what crime? Who is involved? Where does the psychological aspect come into it? How is the protagonist involved in this? etc etc

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