Project 2 (Combining visual elements) – Exercise 3

Film posters

Relationship between a film and its poster (use of typography, image, colour and composition).


First impressions:

  • dark environment, night
  • humongous moon
  • no stars
  • fog and shadows
  • scary laughing pumpkins (some impaled in fence)
  • halloween
  • cemetery
  • spiralling, wave-like cliff
  • skeletal figure wearing a suit, body language as if singing or reciting poetry
  • purple and yellow colors

The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton is one of my favorite animation films to date because of its combination of visuals, set design, mood, music, narrative and characters. It is no wonder that such a carefully made film is accompanied by a poster that reflects well its aesthetic, mood and story.

The poster’s image is inspired from an actual scene from the movie, where Jack is singing a song of lamentation; he feels listless and in a rut because he is king of Halloween year after year and wishes for something new. So first of all, I think this particular scene is a good image for the poster as it represents a turning point for the main character and the events that will unfold.

Another important characteristic in the poster is its use of color; basically only purple and yellow are used. Because these colors are complementary, a yellow light creates a purple shadow (e.g. Maxfield Parrish and John Singer Sargent, see end of exercise). The poster uses this and then some, as it greatly exaggerates it to create a nightmarish mood of darkness. It also creates a strong contrast with certain focus points, namely the pumpkins, the film’s title and the moon. In accordance to the film’s mood, and director Tim Burton’s own characteristic spooky style, the typography is serif, very decorative, gothic and a bit old-fashioned.

While watching the movie, it came across to me that this was one of the most carefully well-designed scenes, particularly because of the contrast created as the character stands in front of the moon. The composition is influenced by this contrast; the orange/yellow elements help direct the viewer’s eye from the pumpkins at the very back, towards the title, up through the curling cliff, and finally to the main character Jack. One can tell by just his elegant pose and clothing that though Jack is a skeleton, he is a romantic fellow and much more than just some scary Halloween trinket.

Relationship between a film and its trailer.

First impressions:

  • Pale colors (yellow, green, blue), warm, old-fashioned
  • emphasis on composition, symmetry
  • innocence
  • simple, dramatic storyline
  • funny, quirky, cute
  • young romance
  • summer

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is an awkward, yet inspiring, love story between two 12-year-olds. The trailer begins with a sort of scene of love at first sight where a boy is intrigued by a particular girl. They then exchange letters planning to run away from their homes in order to be together, which they do.

The trailer captures the film’s old-fashioned mood and its use of composition. Most shots, as with the movie itself and most of Anderson’s other movies, are very symmetrical and carefully composed. The color palette is very warm and made up of pastel/pale colors, giving it a 60’s feel. The story that that trailer sells, while naïve and simple, shows mature, determined and passionate kids running away from adults that seem to be petty and unhappy.

The use of classical music and the serious demeanor in all the characters, especially the two protagonists, captures the dramatic way in which their young love is to be represented; both by themselves, their parents and by the boy scouts that are searching for them with a detective-like diligence.

Winter Sunrise, Maxfield Parrish 1949
Corfu: Lights and Shadows, John Singer Sargent   1909





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