Monday, June 21, 2010

American Movie Posters: Part II

This UK poster for 'Splice' (UK release August 6) is simply beautiful. An angelic nude winged creature, unearthly yet undeniably human, hovers above us bathed in celestial light. It has flowing, curving organic lines and creates a sense of awe. There is the unabashed suggestion of both humanity and Cosmic Order.

This imagery effectively melds the notion of the the universal with that of scientific genetic experimentation -- the DNA sequence used for the letter I in 'Splice' is infused with light. The scientific element in the American version (below) is represented by a tangle of cables and the clutter of unsightly monitors and instruments.

Here's the US version:

This image is far safer and has been sanitized for American consumption. The confrontational aspect is simplistic and obvious. The sharp talon in the end of the tail is a far more literal expression of weaponry, whereas it's an organic extension of the creature as depicted in the UK poster. The creature's fingers are curled into the classic childish 'I'm going to get you' claw. The two humans stare back with dumb expressions -- surrogates for the American audience as it is perceived by Hollywood.

In the UK version a brilliant nurturing light shines down upon us. In US version the characters are struck by a harsh cold spotlight, suggesting persecution.

In the UK version the figure is a blend of the human and the angelic. However, it is perhaps a bit too corporeal for gun-shy American Hollywood studios in that she has breasts, one of which is clearly outlined by heavenly light. For the Marketing Division the unpalatable inference is that God can see women's breasts. Apparently, studio execs prefer to suggest that, while God may know of the existence of breasts, He has never actually seen one, and, should He happen to be looking when a woman steps out of the bath, He would certainly avert His gaze. And, if He doesn't look, neither should Americans!

The UK tag, 'She is not supposed to exist' is conceptual and intellectual, while the Hollywood line 'She's not human...not entirely' may as well be accompanied by the hackneyed symphonic stinger: Da, da, dummm!!! For them, they say 'she is', for us they use the more inelegant 'she's'.

Even the font and styling used for the title in the American poster -- thick, ultra-bold letters showing signs of corrosion -- may as well be blood red, implying we are to see a slasher horror. It's white on black, the highest level of contrast attainable, as if we wouldn't recognize it as a title otherwise. The title in the UK version is far more elegant by comparison.

Why American posters are so on-the-nose and dumbed-down I can't figure. I've bitched about them before. They are too literal in some cases (as with 'Splice'), and obscure and roundabout when the movie they advertise is violent or sexual in a direct way as with 'The Killer Inside Me'.

The cultural differences run deep. In the UK you must be 15 years of age to see 'Splice', while in the US you have to be at least 17 years old.

This is just another example of the crude American compared to the easy-going erudite European. In Europe they cook complex meals and enjoy a family dinner, in America we drive-through and eat foil-wrapped food from a paper bag. There, they sit in street-side cafes and sip espresso or red wine and talk for hours, here we walk through shopping malls and point at plastic do-dads in the window. There, the movies are character-driven and layered, here the movies are romp-em, stomp-em affairs any kid could understand. There, the posters are thoughtful elegant creative expressions, here they are clunky and obvious and pander to the mindless.

It's an embarrassment. What gives?

No comments:

Blog Archive