Film Posters Of The 90′s

Edited by: Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh

The 90’s perhaps became very self aware of the poster as art- as it was a decade of self awareness with rights opening up, expressions coming out and society in general being referenced right in the face with even the likes of the Scream Trilogy.

So perhaps there is something a little too phony about the art.  Is Pulp Fiction or The Matrix really doing their job well? Sure they are instantly memorable, but there still seems to be something smug about the artwork as if it was dissected and discussed to no end to the point of perfection.

Still with the public becoming aware of this you had to work harder to surprise and intrigue them. Even if it meant coming up with images so reserved in the information they give to a viewer that it acted as a hook (Magnolia and its frogs, American Beauty with the belly and the rose).

But then some worked a treat by getting to the point – as in Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis in mid battle, knife in hand. It sold the adventure and the danger, and composited in the centre is his character in a romantic embrace with his love. The poster does not lie – it is a dramatic adventure full of danger and romance. Or try The Shawshank Redemption with its grasp of freedom in the rain.

Less subtle is Disclosure and Basic Instinct which pretty much sold the sex and power stories either by clinches, or domineering looks.

The book is harder to perhaps segregate posters into groups. But we have foreign art pieces, indie cinema and one of my favourite – the comic book poster – three wonderful images for The Phantom, The Shadow and the beautiful art deco rendition of The Rocketeer (Still one of my favs to this day).  Comic book posters continue later with Blade and The Crow and Dick Tracy.

Spielberg gets the best of the wartime dramas with Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. But never understate the highly over looked Terrence Malick WWII epic The Thin Red Line with three close up, helmeted, heads of soldiers on the design. All you see is an eye of each of the three men – but if you know your actors you can tell it’s Sean Penn, Woody Harrleson and Jim Caviezel.

Spielberg is back with Jurassic Park – a very simply logo poster. Lucas took design further with his teaser for The Phantom Menace with a young boy casting the shadow of Darth Vadar (rather over-sold the film really). The main poster also features.

In the comedy section we get the emergence of Jim Carrey with good designs for Ace Ventura, The Mask – but both outdone by that wonderful The Truman Show poster made up of many little screenshots that make up the face of Truman.

There are some classier gangster pictures from Devil in a Blue dress, The Two Jakes, Goodfellas, The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential and Carlito’s Way. The book ends with Eastwood’s Unforgiven and then Clockers (almost a reprisal of Anatomy of a Murder).

It’s been quite an adventure looking through this series of books in a short time frame, and is the type of artwork you’d want on your walls as well as referenced on your shelves. It could get addictive though – thank god more and more books on poster art are making their way to book stores as we speak!

Steven Hurst

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