Thursday, April 28, 2011

graphic design 101

It's drummed into you in school: the essence of drama is conflict. If you're the person charged with designing a movie poster, you know that a certain set of powerful images can serve as an effective shorthand for conflict. One image in particular reappears often: the faces of two implacable enemies, in profile to the viewer and turned toward each other. In the West, where we read left to right, it's normal to place the protagonist on the left and the antagonist on the right, for that's how we "read" the image: we see our hero first, and then we see who he's up against. Take this poster for the final Harry Potter film:

I saw the above poster only a few minutes ago-- just the thumbnail version of it-- out of the corner of my eye when I was visiting the site. The image made me do a double-take, because it looked a hell of a lot like the poster for a 1980s-era sci-fi flick called "Enemy Mine." See here:

Drama is conflict.

Although I've enjoyed the filmmakers' version of Voldemort, I've never found his face to be sufficiently snakelike. To my mind, the best of the snakelike faces comes from a cult classic, again from the 1980s: "Conan the Barbarian." Remember the face of Thulsa Doom in mid-transformation? No? Here's a reminder:

That's one of those stand-alone faces that implies conflict without even needing to show the hero. I wonder how Doom's transformation would be handled these days, in the era of casual CGI. Would the snake talk? Hmmm.



Bratfink said...

Enemy Mine is one of my all time favorite movies! I watch it a couple times a year.

And cry every damn time.


Kevin Kim said...

It's based on a novel, but if I'm not mistaken, the novel is inspired by "Hell in the Pacific," starring Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune.