The recent passing of Bill Gold, creator of several of the most famous movie posters of all time, is truly a great loss for not only movie poster making but the entire film industry itself. Gold’s work was why films such as Casablanca became iconic. There’s a reason the SU poster sale at the start of term is full of movie posters – they are a work of art in their own right, and a good poster can forever define film, franchise and era.
Hanging our favourite movie posters on our walls lets us show off our film taste
Movie posters have become favourite ‘dorm room posters’ because they are a means of self-expression. Hanging our favourite movie posters on our walls lets us show off our film taste or indeed a projection of our own personality through an edgy movie choice. They are also a particularly good talking point during freshers – I may have committed the crime of never seeing Pulp Fiction had I not enquired about my friend’s choice of wall decoration one drunken night.
Movie posters are also essential for summing up a movie better than any synopsis could – they say a picture is worth a thousand words after all. The poster for Jaws became so popular that the film title alone brings up the poster image of a shark hurtling towards a poor unsuspecting swimmer. We seem to have a liking for promotional material, which is why Stranger Things and Deadpool were able to parody them in their marketing campaigns. The current push for quantity over quality in marketing means overloading public consciousness with all too similar posters, unlike the times where Uma Thurman smoking was the only image needed to sell the film.
Gold’s work particularly takes us back to a time of a minimalism
On a similar note, Gold’s work particularly takes us back to a time of a minimalism. Big budget film posters today are chock-full of every recognisable actor’s face, a key action scene and a couple of explosions thrown in for good measure. Gold’s posters for Alien and The Exorcist however sell the film with two simple but exceedingly iconic images: an alien egg and a man standing outside a house. Such posters not only set the horror tone and tease at the premise of the film, but also allow an element of intrigue and mystery which is broadly missing from film marketing today. Hints were given of an eerie otherworldly being and a ghostly presence, but the reveal of the actual alien and possessed child were not spoiled and saved for the actual film.
With exceptions such as The Social Network, modern movie posters are becoming increasingly similar and generic – no one will remember a Marvel movie poster in twenty years time. Movie posters of today are forgetting exactly what made them so alluring – a striking singular image, setting the tone of the film and minimal clutter which can guarantee the uni bedroom privilege for life.