posted by Matt Ward on Mar 11, 2010.
There have been a lot of really great epic movies released over the past 10 years (or to be released soon), and a lot of really great posters! In this post, we will look at a collection of 30 excellent epic movie posters and examine some of he trends that exist between them.
There’s no doubt that movies are big business these days – really big business. For the most part, I like watching them a whole lot more than I like watching the bulk of what’s on TV. I wouldn’t say that I’ve seen a lot of movies – not compared to some people that I know – but when I do sit down to watch a film, or go to the theater, there is no doubt that my favorite genre has to be the epic/fantasy.
In this post, I have collected 30 awesome movie posters from the contemporary era of film making (I don’t think any of these were released prior to 2000). There’s some pretty nice eye candy to be found below, but instead of just providing you with some awesome, epic posters to look at, I would also like to consider some of the design trends that we see recurring throughout this collection.
The Lord of the Rings
Okay, what would an article about epic posters be without paying homage to Peter Jackson’s epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was totally awesome and had some really great poster designs? It’s also a great place to start because these feature some of the key trends that I want to look at – the ensemble design and the monochromatic design, both of which I’ll discuss more below.
For now, let’s just admire the realization of Tolkien’s epic vision.
The ensemble technique is immensely popular in epic movie posters, especially in films with large casts or a wide range of important characters. Often, the main character will be featured at the center, or as the largest figure, with other characters surrounding them according to varying degrees of importance. Other times, as in the King Arthur poster, the design simply features that which will capture the greatest attention – namely the lovely Guinevere (Kiera Knightly)
One of the great advantages of the ensemble (and you will see more examples below), is the ability to showcase multiple aspects of the film through the various characters. In cases of a star studded cast (see Alexander), it also provides an opportunity to showcase all of the well known actors who might help draw an audience (Colin Ferrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer and Anthony Hopkins).
Another really common technique in epic movie posters is to work the design so that it maintains a mostly monochromatic feel. We saw that in the Lord of the Rings posters, which all had somewhat subdued earth tones. You can also see it, in varying ways, in each of the following posters.
The blue in the Avatar poster, obviously matches the colour of the Na’vi, and is the primary colour of the film. The same is true of the The Matrix, which has a sort of dark, blueish tinge to it. The beige colour of The Scorpion King is also used in the posters for the related Mummy films, and connotes the sandy characteristics of the film’s principal setting.
All in all, the monochromatic effect is used primarily to establish the tone of the film in some way, whether that be for the prevailing colour of the film itself, or simply a technique to set the desired emotional tone.
The Ancient Texture
The ancient texture effect is a useful technique for epics in the truest sense of the word – and which have their roots in the ancient world. This technique basically uses some extra texture, superimposed over the rest of the poster design in order to give it that ancient, weathered look. The poster for Troy is an excellent example, both in terms of the strong use of texture, and the fact that the film is based on the Homer’s epic, The Illiad.
Often, this technique is also a subset of the monochromatic effect. As you can see from the four examples above, they all have a beige/brown tone to them, with very little in the way of additional colour. Again, this helps to establish a sense of age and history.
The Solitary Hero
In direct opposition to the ensemble is the technique of the solitary hero. Like the ensemble, this is less of an effect a more of a compositional decision, which places the attention squarely on the film’s central character. This works particularly well for these kinds of films, because it puts the emphasis squarely onto the most important part of any epic – the main hero. There is just something incredibly awesome about seeing the character all on his (or her) own.
Often, you will find the solitary hero technique used on alternate posters, which will often appear in a series of posters, each featuring a different character. The Beowulf poster is an example of this. The Robin Hood poster, however, appears to be the main promotional image, as does the Prince of Persia poster.
This is probably the least specific of the trends we’re looking at, but it is also very common to see epic movie posters that incorporate some sort of dramatic lighting effect. There can be any number of reasons for this. On the Prince Caspian poster, the lighting effect seems to shimmer off the sword in an almost magical manner. In the Iron Man poster, the lighting effect emanates from the suit itself. The Spiderwick Chronicles poster uses light to cast an eerie glow and the Inkheart poster uses it as a narrative technique, indicating that much of the story actually comes out of the book.
Ultimately, the lighting effect can be used in a number of different ways, but what it generally does best is to just add a real sense of energy to the poster, whether that energy be literal, atmospheric or magical!
That’s a Wrap!
So there you have it, 30 awesome movie posters from the last 10 years (or so) of epic film making, and 5 interesting trends that we can see emerge from this collection. Of course, there are probably many other films that I could have included, but these are some of my favorites – either in terms of the poster design or the film itself (I haven’t seen all of them – yet). And you’ll have to forgive me for including all three Lord of the Rings posters. I’m a real fan.
So, what do you guys think? Did I miss your favorite epic movie poster? If so feel free to leave a comment and let us all know what it is! Also, do you see any other trends emerging from these posters? If so, please share! I’d love to hear all your views and insightsPost A Comment
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