When Film Posters Mean Art: 10 Eye-Catching Alternative Designs

Designing film posters is an art in its own right and some films come up with rather ingenious ways to entice the public to watch their films. Cinematic fan art is also making some amazing contributions, and below I present ten film posters that have captured my attention recently; see also my posts Alternative Film Posters and “Minimalist” Film Posters, and for those who want to explore poster art in greater detail, I recommend this ten-minute lecture by James Verdesoto, film poster expert who designed that one famous poster for Pulp Fiction.

(i) I simply love how this clever poster to Michael Almereyda’s film Tesla (2020) both captures the character portrayed by Ethan Hawke and his distinguishable characteristics and says something about the main theme: electricity/electric power; (ii) I think the colour red suits this Amelie (2001) poster from Japan, hinting to us that the story will be all about eccentricities and passions, and we can’t wait to know more about adventures of this unusual character in the centre; (iii) I’m Thinking of Endings Things (2020) may have a story which suffers from lots of awkwardness and pretentiousness, but all of its posters is a thing of beauty. The poster to the very right designed by Akiko Stehrenberger is trying to bring out the psychological and otherworldly aspects of the film.

(iv) The colour orange has been utilised in many posters to war films, including to films Apocalypse Now (1979), The Inglorious Bastards (1978) and Waltz with Bashir (2008), but here, in this The Deer Hunter (1978) poster by Laurent Durieux, it is particularly impressive. A different reality reflected in the water is also present in one ingenious poster to Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now; (v) Japanese film posters are known for their nuance and simplicity and this American Psycho (2000) poster certainly delivers; (vi) The Cannes Film Festival 2021 introduced Russian-language film Petrov’s Flu by Kirill Serebrennikov and its poster is certainly eye-catching. Though images set “inside the character’s profile” is hardly original anymore, the layered impression is still quite effective and hints at the film being psychological in nature.

(vii) A poster to Back to the Future trilogy that incorporates all three films and their themes while also centering on the DeLorean? That’s a dream come true and this poster designed by Phantom City Creative is fantastic.

(viii) Jodorowsky’s Dune…wouldn’t we all have liked to see it? This print by artist Killian Eng is spectacular; (ix) Emma Butler is an artist and a designer that produces thought-provoking film art focusing on objects from films. Forrest Gump (1994) is pretty much a character-based film so Butler’s art lends itself particularly well to it; (x) This is a poster to film by Paul Thomas Anderson Phantom Thread (2017). Ladislav, the artist, explains here that he wanted to use symbolism in presenting the film. He chose a rose which stands for love and beauty, but also wanted to show that love can be “thorny” and dangerous, and there is always a price to pay for obsession.

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