Film Poster Textual Analysis The Film Poster A film poster has been used to market a film for centuries. It can be seen anywhere; shops, billboards, bus stops, streets, newspapers, magazines and now on the internet. It only takes a split second to look at a film poster and decide whether the title along with the image captures and influences you. The poster has to be effective and use the right tools that will capture the audience’s eye.
A poster will conventionally contain an image which will take up most of the white space and a title of the film; these are seen as the main elements included. There may be other elements such as date of the film release and a slogan which may influence the audience further. Smaller elements may also be included such as credentials of the film.
As Lucy Scott-Galloway said in Media Magazine, ‘Discussing how images make meaning means stepping away from our role as audience, and deconstructing the decisions that have been made in constructing the work.’
What this quote is implying is that we must look further at the ways in which images and framing have been constructed to understand how the poster is influential towards the audience.
A rule that applies well is the rule of thirds. This construction of thirds can frame the poster in a way which captures the eye of the audience the best. Research has shown that this does work; Photographers and painters also use this technique when framing their shots so that they stand out to the audience.
Here is an example used where the ‘Rule of Thirds’ applies: As you can see the thirds have been positioned on the poster. The two main images on top and bottom are positioned equally in the upper and lower third. The characters faces sit on the intersections where the lines cross. This is important as these are seen to be the most influential points where the eyes focus the most. I am going to look at this technique for the two posters that I will analyse. Doing so will help me to understand if the rule of thirds is important and could maybe be the reason that our audiences said the posters we compiled in our questionnaire, were the most influential.
I am going to look at two film posters. I will be looking at the same two films where I analysed their trailers. This way I can make connections between the trailer and the poster as this is something that I may need to do when creating my trailer and my poster.
Eden Lake Main Image [Mise-En-Scene]
The main image for the Eden Lake poster is quite dark and ultimately creates a negative vibe between the girl and the silhouettes in the background. Mise-En-Scene creates this vibe by the use of lighting and characters. We can see that the girl contains quite high key lighting that implies the focus is on this character. She looks scared and seems to be hiding behind a tree. When we look into the distance we can see three outlined characters as silhouettes. The audience will create an opinion by looking at these silhouettes as it is made clear that these must be the antagonists in the film and most probably after the girl positioned at the front. The space between both sets of characters tells us that they haven’t got a very negative relationship in the film. We can see from the trees that Eden Lake must be set mainly in a forest. This is conventional of the genre because it creates that dark and mysterious feel. It makes audiences uneasy because of the thought of a misty forest at night. The contrast of minimalistic lighting at the back with the antagonist characters and the higher amount of light around the main subject at the front, gives the audience their own ideology of the two sets of characters. The darker impression can create an opinion of hatred whilst the lighter subject can make the audience feel and worry for the girl.
Composition & Framing I am using the rule of thirds rule here to look at the composition of the poster. I can see from the image on the right that the rule is applied here but could maybe be composed slightly better. The main character’s face does sit on the top left intersect which gives the viewers more focus on how worried and scared she is. The antagonist characters on the right could have been positioned higher up so they sat on the intersect. This may have added more tension between them and the girl. However, the girl is mainly positioned on the left of the thirds and the antagonists on the right, which is framed well to add to that distanced relationship. The other conventional elements such as the Title, is positioned just below that lower-right intersect. This could have positioned higher so that it sat on the intersect to became more eye catching. The title placed at the bottom is conventional as the image is what the viewers will generally look at first when they may be passing the poster. The overall compsotion and framing of the poster works well but I believe the elements in the right thirds could have been positioned higher to give it that more clinical framing which could be more eye catching to the audience. Main Title
The title on the poster uses the conventional colour of red which represents blood when linking it to the thriller/horror genre. Through the design it also looks as if blood has been splattered onto the title. This gives audiences the indication that blood is most likely to appear in the film, typically conventional of the genre. The font is strong and bold. The size and colour make the title stand out well on the rest of the poster which is quite dark and less colourful. It’s just like blood itself which would stand out on a black or white background. The use of a big and bold title helps viewers to understand the genre better as well as just remember the title itself. A title that may be in a calligraphic font would connect more to a romance or fantasy rather than a thriller/horror. The title is actually used very well here to portray the type of film that Eden Lake is.
Credits & Other Textual Elements There are other textual elements which can be seen on the poster. The font is white for these elements which allow them to stand out but not as much as the main title; they appear in upper case and are bold. Here is review quote which has been placed at the top of the poster. Including this adds to marketing of a film. By using a quote from a well credited company, such as Empire here, gives the film a more professional status. Viewers can read this and see that it has been rated highly. The words used are also influential, such as ‘provocative and terrifying’; they make it seem more intense and more worthwhile to watch as it contains stronger thrills and mystery. This is a conventional element used by many film posters and is very much considered to help give the film more credit. The use of this tag line gives the audience a better idea of what might happen in the film. It is catchy as well and tries to play on words. ‘They wanted to get away’, the ‘wanted’ implies they didn’t actually get away. ‘Instead they found Eden Lake’. This is a good technique of using the slogan to run into the title. I haven’t actually seen this before but it works well to add to the mystery surrounding ‘Eden Lake’. The font is quite small but legible enough
The credits are positioned at the bottom of the poster and generally there so that viewers can see that a lot of work went into producing the film. It conventional but doesn’t really play a part in the marketing process. The two main actor’s names appear on the poster so that audiences may watch the film because they recognise an influential actor that they have seen in a film before. This is another marketing technique used to influence the viewers to watch the film. Shutter Island Main Image [Mise-En-Scene]
The main image shows what the viewers believe to be the protagonist character, holding a match. It as if the match has been used to light up the poster and show the island which is positioned just below this close up of the character’s face. The grey tones that are used on his face add to the mysterious feel and add a chilling effect which conveys the thriller genre. He looks neither worried nor happy. He seems to be quite relaxed but the use of just the face and the colours tells the audience that there could be some mystery revolved around this character. The whole of the island is shown in the image. It is dark and looks isolated. The reason for the isolation could be to emphasise that the island really is in the middle of nowhere and that there is nothing surrounding it. Once again the dark tones of black and blue add tension and a dark impression on the island. It plays on the viewer’s emotions in making them think that they wouldn’t want to be stranded on this island. All the small elements connect. The match is used to connote a sense of ‘lighting the way’. It adds more thrill to the poster itself. Maybe the match is lighting the way through the island, or the match is trying to help the viewers understand the mystery surrounding this protagonist character. The designers of the poster have left many questions unanswered which is a powerful marketing technique in not only connecting to the genre but also making viewers want to watch the film to find these answers.
Composition & Framing
The framing using rule of thirds is composed really well here. Firstly the whole poster is mainly composed and aligned to the centre such as images and text. The protagonist character is positioned on the top left intersect. His mouth runs directly along the line. This makes the viewer’s eyes look at his mouth and see that he seems quite relaxed about the general situation. The island sits across the two lower intersects which is another point in which our eyes look to the most. The slogan also sits along the same line that the mouth does of the main character. This is positioned symmetrically opposite to the mouth which shows that composition has been taken into full account here and thought about well. The framing shows how the elements of the poster have been positioned so that they attract the best focus they can from audiences.
The alignment down the centre allows a symmetrical view of the poster and also emphasises how isolated the island actually is from civilization.
Main Title The main title is positioned at the bottom just the same as the Eden Lake poster. It is in a bold font with a gradient look to it which ranges from white to orange. What I understood from this was that it has been made to look the same colours of a flame. The flame of the match uses the same colouration. I believe that they have been used to connect with each other and keep the eye focused on similar colours rather than different. The font is strong and bold so that it stands out. The font isn’t actually as large as it would conventionally be, but maybe this is a connection where the designers are trying to give little away about the story itself. I do like the glow and colours of this title. They are simple and add mystery to the ‘island’ itself. Credits & Other Textual Elements
This poster doesn’t include a quoted review but maybe the designers felt the other elements were enough to encourage audiences to watch the film. There is a short slogan about the film and credentials.
This is a very short slogan that will ultimately catch the viewer’s attention straight away. Reading this gives the audience a better indication of the film. Maybe someone has got lost on the island, or maybe someone has gone missing from the island that should be there. It is quite mysterious but adds that extra touch that would edge viewers to watch the film. The full stop at the end adds to that tension of ‘this is the problem and needs to be sorted’. The colours are once again similar to that of a flame which adds connections. The font is uppercase and bold. It is small but legible for the readers. It is placed right on a dark space. It makes the viewers want to get closer to the poster so that they can read what it says. Here shows the use of a popular actor’s name to help market the film. The actor could be an idol to some people which is why this has been used as viewers may watch the film because he plays part of the main role.
Then the credentials are seen right at the bottom of the poster. They are once again used to show all the work that went into producing the film, rather than a marketing strategy or to attract viewers.
Overall Comments & Proposals
I have seen that the Rule of Thirds plays a very big part in composition and framing of the poster. It makes the images and elements more eye catching which is what a poster needs to be. The colours used are very dark which connect with the genre. Slogans are used well to portray some of the plot to the viewers and add more mystery surrounding the film itself.
I will defiantly use the rule of thirds to compose my poster when it comes to creating it. I will use dark colours and a mysterious slogan that will emphasise the fact the film is a thriller. I will also try to use lighter colours that connect and stand out, such as the title and other textual elements which I have noticed in both posters I have analysed.