[personal profile] reece0
What exactly do we think of as "classic movies?" What are the common elements by which we know them? The first thing we acknowledge about classic movies is their age -- these movies are relics of the past, left over from a world greatly different from our own that's now behind us. We probably think of them as black and white, a reflection of the state of technology's advancement at the time of their creation. Maybe star performers of classic hollywood come to mind -- Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Orson Welles, Marilyn Monroe, Mae West, Joan Crawford -- actors who shared a special, unique charisma that was as much a product of their time as the technology that brought them to their audience. Let's look at the last thing I can think of that is inseparably tied up with classic movies in this way: the posters that accompany them.
Citizen Kane PosterGone with the Wind Poster
 
Above are a couple of sample posters from the time I'm referring to, the "golden age of Hollywood." The one on the left is one of my favorites: the poster for Orson Welles' Citizen Kane. The one on the right is the poster for Gone with the Wind, directed by Victor Fleming. One of my favorite things about classic posters like these is how their visual style tells the story of the media used to create them. The large titles and the actors' likenesses look as though they are painted on, and the small titles look as though they are inked in. Contrast this style with movie posters of today, which are almost universally rendered in exclusively digital media. Modern posters often feature photographs of actors, usually edited digitally, with electronically produced titles to match. This probably isn't the only reason we don't see posters like the above anymore today. Technology has only advanced since the seventy or so years ago when these posters were made. We definitely have the means to make posters just like these, we just choose not to. It's because sensibilities have changed on all ends: audiences don't respond to the classic style of these posters, and the production studios responsible for new movie posters aren't commissioning them in this style either.

The above posters reflect the older creative sentimentality present in the time they came from. They also reflect the technological means available for their creation in their time, just like the monochromatic color scheme of the films they were used to promote. Both the posters and their films capture the period in history they came from, and what I like about them both so much is that they have the ability to take our minds back to their time by the simple act of looking.
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Jack Reece

December 2014

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