Do you remember those beautiful movie posters from the past? Like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? Or Back to the Future? The poster for a film held importance, weight, and master artists were entrusted to use their skills and expertise to capture the likenesses of the actors and the spirit of the movie.
Amazing posters for films like Indiana Jones, The Muppets, Star Wars, E.T.,The Thing, The Goonies, and Back to the Future all came out in the 70's and '80s. Think of any of these films and iconic images immediately spring to mind. What people don't realize is that all of these images were created, hand-drawn, and painted by the same man, an artist named Drew Struzan.
How many film posters do you see today that are as memorable as Drew Struzan's? I personally don't see many. Sadly, the illustrated poster is a thing of the past because we are so enmeshed in the digital age that everything is done on computers. In today's day and age, "digital" means faster, and faster equates to "better." But is that really the case? Not to me. Not to lovers of fine art. Today, pencil and paint have been replaced with Photoshop... changes are made with the click of a button. Where's the heart, the soul, the life that handmade art creates?
When I was a child, Drew's work was a huge part of the film-going experience for me. I remember walking into the theater lobby mesmerized. It was more like an art gallery because I could take the time to look at and appreciate the work and style of a true master artist like Drew. I spent hours staring at his poster for Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom building excitement for that film. He was able to capture the whole essence of a film in one image.
Drew's artwork impacted me so much that I made a documentary about him and his artwork. But more than that, it's about the dying art of the illustrated movie poster. Drew: The Man Behind the Poster is currently in its theatrical release by Kino Distributors. I spent four years learning about Drew's art, his career, and his life. Drew shared his passion for painting and his techniques with us. As well as sharing anecdotes about the making of his iconic images. I also found out I'm not alone. I was able to interview the biggest names in Hollywood to share their thoughts and love for Drew Struzan's art. People like George Lucas, Michael J Fox, Steven Spielberg, Frank Darabont, Guillermo Del Toro and Harrison Ford. They all appreciate the beauty of his hand painted posters. Harrison Ford told me personally that he loves that Drew"Makes me look good!" Director Frank Darabont told me"Having Drew do your poster is almost worth making movies just for that."
The painted poster is essentially dead. Drew was the last great master of dying tradition. Even though he did beautiful posters as recently as Harry Potter and The Star Wars prequels, Hollywood has moved on to everything being done on computers. I think it's important to take a moment to appreciate a beautiful tradition of illustration that is now mostly gone. If you think you never really noticed just look at Drew's posters for films like Adventures in Babysitting, An American Tale, Coming to America, The Flinstones, Batteries Not Included and First Blood. It will bring back instant memories and nostalgia. They are way more than film advertising. They are works of fine art. Just look at the way Drew captured Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones posters.... Unlike the static photos of today's movie posters, Drew captured the dynamic spirit of Indiana Jones and all his character stood for.
Drew created iconic images that stay with you forever. The next time you're in a movie theater, take a moment to look at the posters advertising what you're about to spend your time watching. Do these images excite you? Do they stir an infinite curiosity to know more about the characters or the story? Or are they just filler? Guillermo Del Toro described it best in my interview for the film,"Drew created a love affair that will last a lifetime. This other stuff is a one night stand!"