CR readers pick their favourite film posters

This week we asked our readers to select their favourite film poster of all time for the chance to win a character poster for Ben Wheatley’s new release Free Fire. The nominations included some brilliant designs – from 1960s collage to minimal posters for Moon and American Beauty

Christian Broutin’s poster for Francois Truffaut’s romantic drama Jules et Jim. You can read an interview with Broutin about the poster’s design over on Mubi. (Image via Mubi)

The winner of our competition is Ioana Iepureanu, who nominated Christian Broutin’s striking collage and charcoal poster for Jules et Jim – a 1962 romantic drama set in World War One and directed by François Truffaut.

Iepureanu selected Broutin’s poster for its “interesting mix of collage, charcoal and vivid greens and orange” and said: “Jeanne Moreau is monumental in the poster – a tourbillon of emotion and colour reflected by the expressive strokes and overall boldness of the painting. Iconic in every way.”

You can read an interview with Broutin about the design of the poster over on Mubi.

Under the Skin

Neil Kellerhouse's poster for Jonathan Glazer film Under the Skin. Image: IMP Awards
Neil Kellerhouse‘s poster for Jonathan Glazer film Under the Skin. Image: IMP Awards

“There is something so magnetic and otherworldly about this poster,” said Ashley Roy about Neil Kellerhouse‘s poster for Jonathan Glazer’s eerie sci-fi Under the Skin. “Every single time I look at it, I’m reminded of everything I felt when I first saw the film: awe, fear, mystery and a deep sense of unease. The poster encapsulates the experience of watching the film so well, with the expanse of negative space making me feel like I’m staring right into the void with Scarlett Johansson’s alien drawing me in,” added Roy.

The Lobster 

Reader Joel Sleet selected The Vasilis Marmatakis’s posters for surreal comedy-drama The Lobster (which we featured back in 2015). “[The posters] are beautifully minimal and capture the story of the film and the themes addressed with a clever use of negative space,” said Sleet. “They demonstrate how film posters don’t need to shout to make the loudest noise and sometimes the most striking approach is much more stripped back.”

Moon

The poster for Duncan Jones’ film Moon. Designed by Cardinal Communications USA. Image via Liberty Films

Suresh Parambath selected the minimal poster for Duncan Jones’s film Moon – about a man who spends three years on a solitary mission mining helium on the far side of the moon.

“It’s already a very striking image, dramatic and simple. The moon is depicted as a series of concentric white circles in the middle of a dark page. In the circles is a totally dwarfed and solitary Sam Rockwell. But the poster’s real meaning doesn’t reveal itself until you’ve seen the entire film. It sums everything up in such a simple graphic device – those concentric circles have a much deeper meaning. I won’t spoil it, but it reflects the story’s themes so brilliantly,” said Parambath.

The Man Who Fell To Earth

Quad poster for The Man Who Fell to Earth, designed by Vic Fair. (The poster shown here is available from Vintage Movie Posters)

In a career spanning four decades, designer Vic Fair created posters for horror films, sex comedies and even the James Bond franchise.

His poster for The Man Who Fell to Earth starring David Bowie was selected by one CR reader who said: “This is everything a movie poster should be. Dramatic, enigmatic, full of clues and quite beautifully composed. The combination of watercolour tones and that hard graphic inverted pyramid keyline won me over instantly (as an impressionable 14 year-old!)…. Vic Fair apparently had no brief and completed it in one night after hearing that a rival agency was also working on an idea. It’s a classic”.

Fair passed away in February aged 78 but you can read an interview with him and see more of his designs here.

The Exorcist

Exorcist film poster by Bill Gold. Image via Discreet Charms and Obscure Objects

Bill Gold is one of the best known and most prolific poster designers in Hollywood. He created the iconic posters for A Clockwork Orange and Deliverance as well as this chilling design for Oscar-winning 1973 horror The Exorcist.

The poster was nominated by Carl Halford who said: “You could pull out a million and one semiotic readings but for me it’s the striking chiaroscuro-esque contrast between light and dark of the photography to represent, quite obviously, good and evil. But it’s the reversal of this that is the most powerful…. The light pouring from bedroom where evil resides and the dark, ominous silhouette of the priest.”

See more of Gold’s work at billgold.net.

Barbarella

Original Paramount Picture 1977 Reissued One Sheet Poster for Barbarella featuring artwork by Boris Vallejo, available from movieart.com. Image: Movie Art

Hannah Sargeant nominated the 1968 poster for sci-fi film Barbarella – a space adventure set in the 41st century starring Jane Fonda. The poster features an image by artist Boris Vallejo and is one of several used to promote the film around the world (you can see others here).

“The poster can stand as a great piece of work alone without knowing anything about the movie itself,” said Sargeant. “There are a few different posters for the movie but Jane Fonda on a rock with a space gun, behind an oversized moon, a spaceship and various other characters makes for the best version. I love how the illustrator has thrown all these elements into one otherworldly portrait of the movie with a bright striking yellow title, and still communicates that this film is fun and action-packed.”

Bande a Part

Poster for Jean Luc Godard’s Bande a Part (Band of Outsiders). Image: AlloCine!

Jean Luc Godard’s Band a Part (Band of Outsiders) follows a trio of misfits through the streets of Paris as they plan a heist.

The poster was selected by Michael Dornan who said: “The promo poster … has many antecedents and has this casual air about it. Thus [it] matches the film in a couple of ways. It’s like a collage of noir posters, but says a lot – the criminals’ silhouettes form a mask for [character] Anna Karina’s face, the white background evokes the blankness of Godard’s rundown Paris scenery and as the trio dream of escape, the overall composition makes these images billow upwards, like a dream.”

American Beauty

American Beauty poster designed by Pulse Advertising. Image via Flickr

Think of American Beauty and the chances are one of two images will spring to mind: either Mena Suvari lying on a bed of rose petals or this poster by Pulse Advertising.

“Like the film itself, the poster is a provocative piece of art,” said reader Nicholas Brent. “[It’s] a simple poster that highlights all of the film’s themes, even if you haven’t seen the film. The red rose [is] a symbol of love and passion. The bare skin on which the rose rests symbolises a sense of lust [that is] so heavily featured in the film.”

Jaws

One of a series of original and reprinted posters for Jaws available from Movie Poster Warehouse. The poster features a painting by Roger Kastel

The poster for Steven Spielberg horror Jaws (based on the novel by Peter Benchley) was the most popular among our readers with three nominations.

Fran Alvarez said: “It’s timeless and iconic and delivers a solid story without any fuss. The image is very strong and well-illustrated that you hardly need anything else to put on the poster.”

Another reader said: “You can almost feel the fear in the poster already without seeing the movie. The sharp shark teeth … eyes looking up to the woman swimming on the surface of the deep sea (look at the proportion of the sea vs. air)…. The black background colour (the unknown) behind the main image in the centre. Add to that the typeface set in red signalling immediate danger. No other explanatory text [is] needed here. It’s all clear to what to expect from the movie.”

The striking painting shown on the poster was created by Roger Kastel and takes inspiration from illustrator Paul Bacon’s black-and-white cover for the original version of Benchley’s novel (published by Doubleday).

There’s a fascinating story behind Kastel’s image over on Gizmodo and you can buy signed prints from Kastel’s website.

Honourable mentions

Other designs nominated by CR readers include Saul Bass’s posters for Vertigo and Anatomy of a Man, the poster for Pulp Fiction and Mark Blamire and Rob O’Connor’s campaign for Trainspotting. Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey also received a mention. You can see the full list of suggestions here.

What's the story?

The Storytelling issue, Oct/Nov 2017, is out now.
We invited writers to respond to our cover image
this month: read their stories inside.
PLUS: Tom Gauld, Oliver Jeffers, Giphy & S-Town

Buy the issue

The Annual 2018

The Creative Review Annual is one of the most
respected and trusted awards for the creative
industry. We celebrate the best creative work from
the past year, those who create it and commission it.

Enter now

DESIGNER

South East London - Competitive

MOTION GRAPHICS DESIGNER

London - £35,000 - £40,000

CREATIVE INTERIOR DESIGNER

Birmingham - Salary £30-£35k

CREATIVE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT

Leeds, West Yorkshire - £20,000 - 30,000