Analysing Magazines: Total Film: ‘Thor’…

Posted: April 6, 2011 in Media

Here’s the original cover I’m analysing…

And then to help with the analysis, as I have done before, here is the ‘labelled’ magazine cover…

1- The Marvel Movie Issue!’

Explanation & Analysis

Written in bold block-like letters, like a banner across the top of the magazine clearly signifies the text has importance. It also makes sure that audience members do not miss it- signifying it could perhaps be an aspect that would persuade certain audiences’ to buy it. This text is clearly introducing the entire theme of the cover and this is most likely to be continued within the magazine itself. Thus it is reaching out to a certain type of audience by choosing a specific theme- in this case an audience who likes superhero movies/comic book heroes in film, as ‘Marvel’ is  a brand of comic books, most well-known in the film industry specifically for being the origin of on-screen heroes such as the ‘X-men’ and Robert Downey Jr’s ‘Iron Man’. Therefore, this can reinforce how this is a specialist brand of magazine, as not everyone is necessarily going to know what ‘Marvel’ is or how it links to the subject of films. Also, using alliteration is a good way of capturing audiences’ attention and interest.

2-‘Meet The Avengers! Who’s who in the Marvel universe’

Explanation & Analysis

This cleverly carries on the theme of comic-book superheroes- suggesting again that the magazine is targeting a specific type of audience (people who like superhero films). It promises them the aspect of acquiring more information on the subject also, thus gaining more interest in the time-being. Also, the fact we’re asked to meet ‘The Avengers’ reinforces how the magazine is carrying on a theme of comic book heroes in the area of film, as ‘The Avengers’ is not only a group of popular superheroes, but an upcoming film in 2012, thus reaching out to have a passion in film as well as those who have a passion in superheroes/comic books etc. Having this in the top right hand corner cleverly seems to serve as a reminder and prompt to the reader that they only need to turn the page and they’ll soon find out this information (this triangle in the corner being I think quite conventional on magazine covers in general and not just ‘film’ magazines). The fact it consists of black text on a yellow background also makes the text eye-catching and bold- thus readers are not likely to miss it. I’d also like to mention that using the word ‘meet’ I’m finding to be quite a convention on magazine covers, as this appears to be re-occurring a lot (especially on the puffs on the cover)- and I think this is because it sounds quite promising and personal to whomever is reading it- and it is likely that the target audience for this magazine is someone who’d like to actually ‘meet’ film stars/directors themselves (thus they are giving them, sort of, what they want).

3- Date/ price/ Issue number

Explanation & Analysis

Well, this is simple really. It’s in small writing, but big enough to be able to find and read, while not taking up too much space or distracting the reader’s eye from other, more persuasive things on the cover. It’s vital information, but not vital to get audience interest, explaining why it’s only small and is nicely tucked away on top of the ‘m’ of the magazine’s name. Easy to spot, just not eye-catching really. 

4-‘Total Film’ – name of magazine

Explanation & Analysis

As always, the name/title of the magazine is a very large piece of text, and is bold also so as to make sure audiences’ instantly recognize which magazine it is (working like a logo for a company really). Having the word ‘Total’ inside the ‘F’ of the word ‘Film’ maximizes the amount of space left on the cover of the magazine for more important/persuasive devices (such as the main image/puffs etc). It also looks a lot more professional and stylish than trying to squish the whole two words in such as limited amount of space. The fact that the main image is superimposed over the name of the magazine also refers to how the magazine chain is quite successful/well-known as they do not necessarily have to have the whole text showing for readers to recognize what it says.

5-‘The World’s Best Movie Reviews’

Explanation & Analysis

 This is probably mainly a key singifier- mostly conveyed the fact that it is surrounded by a circle of red stars- thus it will quickly get the audiences’ attention and is thus likely to persuade them to read or even buy the magazine itself. By stating that the magazine apparently has the ‘worlds best movie reviews’ clearly is an attempt to get rid of any competition in terms of other brands of specialist film magazines (like ‘Empire’….). Thus they’re claiming they’re the best and therefore audiences’ won’t need to look elsewhere. The use of the colour red is eye-catching as well as keeping to what appear to be the covers’ colour code of red, black and white.

6-Main image- Chris Hemsworth as ‘Thor’

Explanation & Analysis

I think the image, considering it’s size of all things, works well at catching the audiences’ eye as well as their interest in the character and thus the film itself that they star in. The characters’ red cape connotes maybe a violent character, or that he is in a film that contains danger/violence- like an action or thriller. The fact he is wearing a cape though is more likely to link to the magazine’s comic-book theme and thus reveals to us that he is likely to be a new comic-book based superhero that is now being portrayed on-screen. The hammer clutched in his hand not only connotes violence/action but also may be a famous prop for the character (I’m not too sure myself but I’m pretty sure ‘Thor’ is well-known for his chosen weapon to be a hammer/mallet) thus it gives away the character’s identity to the audience instantly without the cover having to really explain it to them through text (assuming all possible buyers will know and recognize this that is- which they should, as it is a specialist magazine). The fact the character is wearing a very dark costume also could connote a dark or perhaps troubled character- such a reluctant hero (which people who have an interest in films will pick up on- an example like Neo and his dark clothes in ‘The Matrix’ comes to mind) thus gaining more audience interest as they’ll wonder why he is being conveyed to us in this way and whether he’ll really be the hero of the film itself. The fact the character is unshaven also reinforces this notion- suggesting his character to be quite rebellious and perhaps concerned on other matters. I like how he is also crunching his other hand up into a curled fist- as this could give the audience ideas that he is angry or ready for a fight- thus they’ll be interested in why he seems so tense/angry and what this could lead to in the film- is he a fighter? What is he angry at? Does he want revenge? etc. Lastly how the character is not looking directly at the audience also connotes that his character is maybe distant and disconnected- he is concerned more with other things- though we do note know what these other things are and whether he will, in the film, actually confide or connect with any other character- thus all of this we will naturally be eager to find out and will end up buying the magazine. I’d also like to point out the lightning strikes in the background, which I help to connote the characters’ perhaps inner rage and wrath- making the audience even further question the reasons for this. It can also connote a sense of something that is grand or ‘epic’ , thus linking to the magazine’s theme of superheroes.

7-‘The Modern Guide to Movies’

Explanation & Analysis

Located in the left hand corner (pretty much) and in quite a small font would indicate that not only is this a pug, but it is also not THAT important for persuading audiences to read or even buy the magazine. I think the fact it’s positioned below the actual title/name of the magazine hints that it may be some kind of tagline- thus making the audience recognize this particular brand of magazine and become familiar with it also. It is persuasive though, in its text, as it uses a little alliteration (sort of…) and seems to offer the reader something- making the magazine sound as if it is better than any other magazine in its field and therefore again is an attempt to kill off any competition it may have…

8- ‘Plus- Joseph Gordon Levitt on Christopher Nolan,  Michelle Williams on Marilyn Monroe, Henry Canvil on Superman’

Explanation & Analysis

Being a puff, it is rightly placed to the right of the cover, and separated from the main image to reinforce to viewers that it is covering a different subject matter- in this case what readers can expect to find inside the magazine. The fact the word ‘plus’ is bigger than any of the other text makes it eye-catching and reinforces how it is a buzzword- and therefore is likely to be able to grab the audience’s initial attention so that the magazine can then attempt to sustain it through various other methods. What I find the puff does here is that it uses simple and basic language to get the message across to audiences without boring them with a little too much text or possibly confusing and complex language. For example, here we have the persuasive technique for name dropping different actors/actresses/directors/film characters etc and then saying ‘on’ immediately insinuates that these are all interviews audiences can expect to read inside. Again, the ‘name dropping’ technique reveals that this is a specialist magazine as any member of the public may not know who ‘Joseph Gordon Levitt’ for example is, but an audience member who has an interest in film is very likely to (as he’s an actor- most famous for his role within last year’s blockbuster ‘Inception’). I think this puff is clever as although they are all just simply the interviews we can expect to find inside, they all can generate a much wider audience- for example the Joseph Gordon Levitt/Christopher Nolan will attract audiences with interest in thrillers/fantasy/action and even just those who are fans of the actor or the director of whom he is discussing. The mention of Michelle Williams and Marilyn Monroe are likely to attract a more female audience or those who enjoy dramas/romances due to the actresses’ tendency to be involved in films of this genre (such as Williams’ role in ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and Monroe’s role in ‘The Seven Year Itch’). And lastly the mention of Henry Cavill and the character of Superman will ultimately attract audiences with interests in action/adventure films (predicted due to Cavill’s most well-known roles- such as ‘Tristan + Isolde’) and also cleverly carries on the cover’s reoccurring theme of superheroes. (I’d also like to note that how the cover highlights the first names in red helps show their importance and how they’re the ones being interviewed, and reinforces how the other names are merely most likely to be whom they discuss in the interview)

9-‘Total Acess! Thor, Meet the new superhero God’

Explanation & Analysis

Having the name of the film ‘Thor’ in big and bold letters reinforces how it is the most important aspect of the text and how it is anchorage text- explaining the magazine cover’s main image and focus of attention. By somewhat bragging of having ‘Total access!’ the text therefore appears to try and capture the audience’s attention and beat the competition it may have- placing this at the top of the anchorage text also capturing their attention so that they then automatically read down so they can read more- because it is at the ‘start’ somewhat. Again, the anchorage text offers the reader something they’ll probably want: ‘meet the new superhero God’– not only promoting the film itself through glamorizing its protagonist but also persuading readers to buy the magazine- as it seems personal and they can therefore connect to it because of the prospect of actually ‘meeting’ a new character. The fact he is described in the text to be a ‘superhero God’ also subtly carries on this ongoing front cover theme of superheros- making the cover not only seem more professional, but seem as though they are targeting a specific type of audience perhaps.

10-‘Here be Monsters! CloverField 2, Super 8, Godzilla’

Explanation & Analysis

Basically this puff uses the ‘name dropping technique’ once again to get audience interested in buying the magazine for what may be inside that is of interest to them. Because this magazine cover seems to have a theme of superheroes- naturally the genres of science fiction/horror/fantasy films are quite similar to this theme and may appeal to those who are already interested in the magazine from its other more prominent aspects. positioned to the bottom left hand corner of the magazine, and in smaller text, this makes the text obvious to be a puff and not anchorage text, as it is seperated from the image and does not appear as important because of its mere size and positioning. Although it’s very simple, it gets the message across clear to audiences that these films, all involving monsters of some kind, are discussed in the magazine in some shape or form, so their fans will recognize this and therefore will want to buy the magazine (especially since at least one of them I know is a sequel and will therefore already have a fan-base of its own).

11-‘Marion Cotillard, Natalie Portman, Duncan Jones, Scream 4, Fast Five’

Explanation & Analysis

The name dropping device strikes again on this puff, which is basically just a lots of names of actresses/directors/films etc that may get audiences interested in buying the magazine- especially if they recognize the names. This somewhat reinforces how this is a specialist magazine- targeted at those with a specific interest in film- as these names dropped may not be recognized by just a run-of-the-mill audience who perhaps just happens to read it.  ‘Marion Cotillard’ and ‘Natalie Portman’ obviously more famous for their roles in ‘Inception’ (Cotillard) and ‘Black Swan’ (Portman) and ‘Duncan Jones’ known for his directorial skills in films such as ‘Moon’ obviously portrays perhaps the prospect of interviews with these stars inside, whereas the mention of films like ‘Scream 4’ and ‘Fast Five’ perhaps connotes the idea of possible reviews and news on filming and so forth (as they are titles of new films and not actresses or directors). Thus, the puff cleverly gives hints about many different features that may be in the magazine itself without actually saying a lot and just dropping names!

12- Barcode

Explanation & Analysis

Simple really, it’s placed in the right hand corner (pretty much) and is separate from any text or image. As it’s essential to  the cover- just not very persuasive or useful in terms of getting audiences to buy the magazine…

13- ‘The Hulk! Why it’s not easy being green, Spiderman! Peter Parker’s hero revealed,  Ant-Man! Exclusive First interview’

Explanation & Analysis

Finally, these puffs fill a large banner like section a the very bottom of the magazine cover. The first words in bold with exclamation marks helpfully catch the audiences’ eye so they can then go onto reading the rest of the puff and then eventually being persuaded onto buying the magazine (or so it is thought). And funnily enough, they all tie in with the theme of superheroes and superhero movies to be more specific- mentioning much-loved comic book and on-screen heroes such as ‘Spider Man’ and ‘The Hulk’ that will be quite recognizable and have a large fan base as well as introducing new heroes ‘Ant Man’ ? gives the audience a variety of choice of which hero to read about. Again the puffs all seem to offer interviews and to get to know their superheros or perhaps the actors who portray them on-screen, better, which of course will persuade any fan to buy the magazine. Language techniques are useful again to maintain audience interest as well as help sway them to buy the mag- such as making interviews seem ‘exclusive’ or making a pun on the superhero themselves ‘it’s not easy being green’ which adds to audience entertainment and will increase their chances of buying the magazine overall.


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