BLOG The Power Of A Poster

I see from my Facebook feed that it’s one week until the release of Star Trek Into Darkness. I know this because Paramount seems to be posting a countdown photo each day. After all the various trailers and posters and TV spots hitting us over the head with the release date, Paramount is obviously still a bit worried that a few people might not have realised the release is imminent.

I know I’ve moaned about the advertising juggernaut that accompanies the release of any blockbuster film before. I’ve lamented the passing of a more subtle style of advertising.

And today I realised that I miss the movie posters of my childhood.

For most of my childhood, like many kids, I had posters on my bedroom walls. My three of favourite posters were the Star Wars “Circus” poster, a Raiders Of The Lost Ark poster and an ET The Extraterrestrial poster.

The artist who drew the three posters will be very well known to readers of a certain age: if hot his name, that at the very least his art will be very familiar. He is Drew Struzan, and his work probably graced the childhood walls of a fair number of people reading this article. You may, like me, still have his art on your walls. You definitely have his work in your DVD or Blu-ray shelves.

Other fads came and went. Other posters came and went, but those three posters were always there on my bedroom wall and were always the first to go back up on the wall after the occasional redecorating my mum inflicted upon the room. These days I still have movie poster art by the same artist on my wall. But now they’re in a much artier, adult looking postcards-on-a-black-background format in my living room and they’re the ’97 Star Wars Special Edition movie posters and the three posters for the prequels.

The postcards on my wall

Drew – has there even been a more apt name? – Struzan has been responsible for the poster art of so many of the films from our childhood; he created iconic artwork for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Blade Runner, Back To The Future, ET, The Goonies and many, many more. He became the go-to guy for Lucas, Spielberg and many other film makers. It was rare for an action/sci-fi film in the late ’70s and ’80s for poster art work not to be drawn by him.

Struzan started out doing album covers for the likes of The Beach Boys, Earth, Wind & Fire and even Black Sabbath back when LPs were still popular; he also dabbled in film posters but the work was mainly for B-movies. His breakthrough piece was the aforementioned Star Wars “Circus” poster for the 1978 re-release of the film. He’d only ended up working on it as a favour to another artist – Charles White – who wasn’t a fan of portraiture. That single poster began Struzan’s association with film posters in the public eye and the artist has been in demand ever since.

The poster for the fourth Indy film

Over the years Drew has painted images of some of the most famous film stars out there and his depictions of them are always fantastic; from Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher in Star Wars to right through to Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter he manages to catch each actor perfectly.

After completing artwork for the advertising campaign for Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (blimey, was there room on the poster for artwork after a title like that? – ed) Struzan announced his retirement in September of 2008, although he didn’t actually stop working; he just works less these days. He recently did a The Walking Dead teaser poster for AMC and he still does alternate artwork for many films.

In 2010 Struzan was the subject of “Drew: The Man Behind The Poster”, a documentary about the man and his work, which featured interviews with filmmakers and actors including Harrison Ford, George Lucas, Michael J Fox, Frank Darabont, Guillermo del Toro and Steven Spielberg among others. There’s also a book celebrating the man’s work out there too. Whether you know the work of Drew Struzan or not; whether this is a trip down memory lane, a new discovery or an artist you want to find out more about, both are well worth a look if you get the chance. Alternatively you can take a look at his website here. You won’t regret it.

Drew

I think in all honesty I’d swap most of the modern movie posters and countdown posters for one decent piece of art by Drew Struzan for each film released. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s a desire to return to a more innocent childhood age, or maybe I just think less is more. In this age of Photoshopped movie posters and uninspiring promotional images a piece of film poster artwork by Struzan from 20 years ago can still take your breath away. The man is such a genius; he can take everything you need to know about a film and put it all in one single, beautiful, and elegant piece of art. I think Drew Struzan’s poster art represents a golden age in cinema, an age which I sorely miss.

So are you a fan of Struzan’s work? Do you have a favourite poster?

Steven Ellis