ScreenFonts: The Social Network, Let Me In, Secretariat, Red, Monsters
You’ll have to excuse me for rushing a bit, but I have some catching up to do. Here’s an overview of the posters for movies released last October. I skipped quite a few ones that were really boring, because, basically, I prefer to spend my time on worthwhile material. I haven’t got all day. Wait, scrap that – actually I do have all day for this. This is the best job ever! ; )
This may the first time I am less ecstatic than usual by designs from the fabulous Kellerhous Inc.. Don’t get me wrong – I like the movie poster for The Social Network and find it quite striking, yet I feel no real connection on a conceptual level. Unlike for example last episode‘s gorgeous artwork for I’m Still Here I fail to discern the core ideas behind this design. I do get the browser window elements, although having the navigation bar vertically at the right side – like some bookmark tab – makes it less instantly recognisable. But what about the tagline set in all caps Futura running over Jesse Eisenberg’s portrait? Maybe it is supposed to look like he is trying to peer through the incessant stream of status updates? I am not sure.
Klavika has a typographic cameo on this poster as the typeface of the Facebook logo. This example again shows how powerful typography can be, also on a subconscious level. Even if you are not truly aware of typography, the combination of the typical blue and the squarish sans serif letter shapes leave no doubt that “the social network” refers to Facebook, not any other social network. For more Web 2.0 related typography read this excellent overview by Stephen Coles on this very blog.
The horror thriller Let Me In has a suitably creepy movie poster. Being the father of three delightful children few things have my skin crawling like the combination of childlike innocence and gruesomeness. This image works beautifully, with the pale girl in her white sleeping gown brutally contrasting with the pool of blood barely emerging from the pitch black background. The foetal position only adds to the eeriness, as if something horrible is about to come into the world.
True to the trend Trajan was used for the movie title. Like IMPAwards user Andy commented on the Chain Letter movie poster (which I skip this episode, just like the posters for Hatchet II and Case 39): “So sick of Trajan in horror movie posters.” Indeed, that’s four of them this month. We feel your pain, Andy – we’ve been living with it for years.
Equally good is this very basic alternate poster. The entirely typographic design manages to make the connection with the winter climate that plays an important role in the setting of the film. A stacked composition of the movie title set in Perpetua Titling is encased in ice, with frozen blood seeping out of the middle word. The interaction between the letters and the ice, with its cracks and partially opaque areas, produces a gorgeous typographic image.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple visualisation of a striking concept. The orangapple nicely brings home the whole idea behind Freakonomics on its movie poster. The typography is barely worth mentioning, but frankly I can’t bring myself to care. Movie posters for documentaries have a spotty history when it comes to type anyway. The inconsistent mix in this specific case is respectively Gill Sans at the top, Myriad for the tagline, and Helvetica for the cheesy extruded red movie logo. WTF indeed… (rolling eyes)
The users of the IMPAwards website have accused the teaser poster for Secretariat of ripping off one of the collaterals for Seabiscuit. I’d say this is pushing it a little bit too far. They’re both movies about race horses with very similar themes, one “a long shot becoming a legend”, and the other an “impossible true story”. Same difference if you ask me. Chances are you may end up with similar posters as well. Here they chose to portray the thrill of the race itself, but while Seabiscuit is running at us, Secretariat is racing by in front of us. Let’s not exaggerate please. The only unfortunate detail is that stretching Gotham (please, don’t, really) in the Secretariat poster makes it resemble Copperplate Gothic used for Seabiscuit.
Despite its poor performance at the box office, Secretariat seems to be enjoying a new and unexpected success in television. After having aired the trailer in his tweets and e-mails segment, The Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson had the horse as a surprise guest a little later in that very same segment. Since then Secretariat has become a staple in his show. An initial accident during its second appearance proved so popular that it has been performing increasingly dangerous stunts. Like Craig observed: “I’m amazed that horse ever won anything!”
Another design that has been pointed out by the IMPAwards users for being very similar to another one is the movie poster for the horror thriller My Soul to Take. The vertical streaks descending from underneath the group shot of the cast is perceived as directly inspired by the silhouettes of zombies “leaking” downwards on the poster for Dawn of The Dead.
Again I must say it seems to me to be a bit of a stretch. While the dripping paint on the Dawn of The Dead poster are extensions of the partially painted bodies, the vertical streaks on the former are meant to look like the reflection of the legs on a wet surface. The blueish grey picture on a white background, gradually changing into blood red is quite beautiful. The smeared shapes of the Adobe Garamond letters make them merge organically with the rest of the picture.
Another batch of movie posters, another comic book adaptation. This month’s candidate is the movie poster for Red. It is an expansion and translation to the big screen of the hard-boiled mini-series by cult author Warren Ellis.
Although the film necessarily takes some liberties with the comics it is based on – the 66 pages of the original story would barely be enough for 40 minutes of film – the poster is very faithful to the source material. It uses the same device, yet slightly grunged up: three horizontal bands with characters in them. Whereas the comic book series only had one lead character, the red bands in the movie poster hold stills of the expanded cast instead of the action sequence in the comic book cover. These bands morph into the three letters of the title; FF Confidential in the former, and ITC Franklin Gothic in the latter. Halfway between those two designs is Frankie.
When I first saw the movie poster for Down Terrace the first thing that shot through my mind was: “Aw man, either do it well, or don’t.” The artwork is supposed to look like a bullet was shot through it, but the end result is far from convincing. Viable options would have been for example a photo-realistic treatment, or a Saul Bass-esque stylisation. Instead we get something that resembles a very poor vector job in Adobe Illustrator. This sucks so bad. The typeface is Adrian Frutiger‘s Avenir.
The movie poster for Inhale offers a rather nice variation on the tired “floating heads” theme. The overexposed photograph of the lead actor has the heads of all the major characters behind him, like a visual echo. It has a gritty feel due to the grainy image quality and sickly light yellow background colour. Consistent with the overall atmosphere of the image, the movie title set in Alternate Gothic is reversed out of a worn and wrinkled red rectangle.
And the second design by Kellerhouse, Inc. – movie poster for Monsters – also offers a nice variation on a tired theme – the disaster/alien invasion blockbuster. Kellerhouse turns it into a moody asymmetric design that opens up to the top right. The square sans serif used for the movie title is either a customised commercial face, or a custom designed logo. The pointy “N” and rather narrow “M” make me gravitate towards the latter theory.
Just like the District 9 collaterals Monsters has a spoof alternate poster mimicking a beaten and worn down orange-and-black warning sign. The design is quite more elaborate and sophisticated, making it veer away from simple road sign towards warning signs on dangerous equipment and machinery. It features a square stencil sans that could very well be custom designed as well.
The FontFeed is a daily dispatch of recommended fonts, typography techniques, and inspirational examples of digital type at work in the real world. Eat up.
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- As you may very well know I often rail against poor typographic choices for movie posters and credit title sequences.…Read more
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