Film Reviews, Rants and Opinions

Monday, 23 April 2012

Poster Pull-Out #1: Django Unchained

The First poster to emerge for Quentin Tarantino’s latest film has certainly got Saul, but should it have a style of its own?

Saul Bass.  Say this name to any Graphic Designer or self-respecting Hitchcock fan and it instantly conjures up images of simplified, stylistic design, and a very particular style.  Bass revolutionised the field of Movie Poster design with his work on “The Man With the Golden Arm” (1955. Dir: Otto Preminger).  Before him there was no art to the medium, Film Posters were just a bunch of stills taken from the movie and chucked onto a piece of paper.*  His style has been much imitated, most recently in this poster for upcoming Tarantino movie “Django Unchained”.

While I’m very much looking forward to the movie – Tarantino hasn’t made a bad one yet (though Deathproof did come pretty close) – the poster leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth.  The design in itself is elegant, beautiful even, and generates interest in the movie while giving little away about it (as all good teaser posters should), but it has been done before.  Done to death.

Since Saul Bass created and popularised his distinctive style it has seen many impersonators: you only have to look at the posters for Steven Soderbergh’s “The Informant!” or the Coen Brothers’ “Burn After Reading” to see Bass’s influence.

It’s not just the professionals who are guilty, either. Scores of amateurs with a little knowledge of Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator see fit to “re-imagine” their favourite Movie Posters in this “Original” style, most of them completely lacking in any real originality or artistic flare.

To sum up if you are going to pay homage, particularly if you are a professional, at least build upon it and bring your own vision to the piece. Don’t just design something Saul Bass himself could have done, and did do many times, 50+ years ago.

Django Unchained is the upcoming film from Pop-Culture God Quentin Tarantino.  It is a Spaghetti Western set in the “Old South” and stars Jamie Foxx (Ray, Law Abiding Citizen) as a freed Slave who seeks Vengeance against sadistic plantation owner Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception, Shutter Island). The movie also stars Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, Carnage) and Samuel L Jackson (The Avengers, Pulp Fiction).

*Okay, there was a little more to it than that.


  1. I like this feature. Combining films with your graphic design is a good idea. The title is great too!

    1. Cheers Tom, I'm glad you liked it. It's something I hope to do quite regularly