Archive for May 2009
I recently watched the movie trailer for a film called Precious using Front Row on my mac. I was intrigued by the poster design for Precious...it's evocative of Saul Bass. In fact the only reason I watched the trailer was because of the poster, surely with a poster this sophisticated the movie must have some meat to it...and I believe it does. See the trailer below.
References to Bass
For fun after watching the trailer I looked up some of Saul Bass' work1 on the Internet to refresh my memory. The poster seems to be the result of some clever graphic addition: Anatomy of a Murder Poster + Saint Joan Poster + The Man With The Golden Arm Poster = Precious Movie Poster. By alluding to this simple formula I might lead one to believe that much like the film posters it references this poster would appear dated and reminiscent of the 1950's and 1960's. This is simply not the case.
While the poster tips it's proverbial hat to what some might call the era of Saul Bass, its re-appropriation of Bass' iconic style is meaningful and contemporary...something any design fanatic should be proud to hang in their home. Unlike Bass' whimsical type treatments the poster employs a lighter version of Helvetica/Helvetica Neue stripping the poster of whimsy and imbuing it with purpose and directness. The title of the film is rendered in an eroded sans serif typeface, which at first glance seems slightly off kilter, again an approprite nod to Bass' playful style in a very serious and contemporary way.
The poster is striking and eye catching; I believe because of the Bass influenced iconography at the center of the traditionally laid-out piece. The mass of the female figure reminds me of the Venus of Willedorf, rotund and bold - certainly an immense presence with strength and potential (fertile or otherwise). The mass of the figure is broken however, much like a plate or pane of glass would break (fractures from the inside/center out). In this case the origin of the fracture is between the figures legs, appearing as a hand reaching up from the ground in negative space radiating rays of light that break this Venus into pieces. It is a powerful piece of imagery that I theorize would move any spectator to at least think, if not relate to this precious female figurine.
While I am not sure who designed this,2 the poster is truly captivating and emotive with seemingly little effort. For me this is a design that will be considered "well done" 50 years from now, much like the work of Saul Bass. And while I don't think this posters style will prompt derivations in the way that Bass' style has and continues to, I do believe that the beautiful execution of the iconography will stand as an example of what a well though out graphic can do. It is a simply executed, unmuddled poster; which unlike so many other movie posters today, does its' job without compromising its' integrity.