Poster Art

Clockwork Orange Meets Logan’s Run

Sarah, my sister who shares my love for coffee and all things artistic, introduced me to a new coffee haunt on the North Shore over the weekend. As we drank our Costa Rican blend, we experienced a nostalgic moment thanks to the decor offered by our host, Bean Around the World. We were surrounded by movie posters: The Godfather, Clockwork Orange, Logan’s Run and Lawrence of Arabia.

To me, one of the determinants of art is the ability to connect with an audience in a way that stirs the imagination to act. And nothing whips up emotional response better than a movie poster! It is the convergence of marketing and art that incites us to buy a movie experience. The interesting part lies with a poster’s ability to inspire long after the movie has left town. I call that longevity or staying power.

As with any artistic or creative endeavor, movie posters have quite a history. They have been around since the earliest public film exhibitions.  The early 1900s witnessed a spurt of creative energy.  Posters came alive. Some featured scene illustrations while others displayed an array of overlaid images or artistic interpretations of the theme.

Initially, movie posters were for the exclusive use of theaters exhibiting the film. Once the film had left the theater, all copies had to be returned to the distributor. Posters were recycled as a cost-effective measure. There was a time that films stayed in circulation for several years. You can imagine the wear and tear on the posters. Some posters were thrown away rather than returned to the distributor. Fortunately, others were rescued by collectors.

You might ask – what about the artists? Unfortunately, in many cases the artists were anonymous. But there are the lucky ones who received notoriety simply because of their outstanding illustrations.  Most people will remember the posters for Star Wars, ET, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, and Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone. Only a few remember that the artist was Drew Struzan.   Howard Terpning gave us the famous The Guns of Navarone, Cleopatra, and The Sound of Music.

So when you walk into a movie theatre – don’t forget to gauge your emotional response to the movie posters. You don’t have to chase this art. It chases you.

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