Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another Beautiful French Poster. This time, for 'Ghost Rider'

As usual, a foreign poster that's better than ours. This looks like a touching little indie drama about a flaming skeleton who rides a motorcycle across country to, say, visit his son, who he's never met, and try to make amends with his ex for the wayward years he spent chasing loose women and committing nefarious deeds.

(Excuse me a moment, I've got something in my eye).

It just looks like a movie I'd want to see. How do they do it? The French are especially good at coming up with compelling one sheets no matter what genre the movie may be or what the budget was. Like this one for 50/50:

In case you've never seen it or purged it from memory, let's review the US take:

See what I mean. Can't compare to the French one.

Compare this US poster for Peter Weir's 'The Way Back':

To this french version:

Differences are subtle, but add up. For instance, in ours two characters make eye contact with the viewer while two don't. An inconsistency. In theirs, none are looking at us.

In ours the men are cleaner shaven, in theirs they look much more haggard, which certainly fits with the plot.

The color balance in ours is much cooler. Theirs is warm, inviting, almost lush, and evokes a more emotional response.

In theirs, the background (behind the three men) is more dramatic, interesting, even striking. In ours, the background imagery is more plain, stripped down, even boring.

The bottom panel in ours shows a man with his arms raised as if in celebration. Why? The movie is about an arduous journey on foot undertaken in winter. It's not arriving someplace and celebrating. The bottom panel in the French poster is a far better match to the movie's plot, depicting ragged figures trudging across the landscape kicking up dust and being watched by a bird of prey.

Taken together, these small differences make one graphic compelling and the other almost off-putting. What's worse, the effect is sub-conscious. You'd hardly be aware what you were feeling and would simply write off the movie as something to stream or rent if you only saw the US poster.

I see this kind of thing and comment about it all the time. Foreign posters are almost always better than ours. I protest. I want good posters, too. I deserve it. Nay! We deserve it!

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