Friday, February 17, 2012

'Black Gold' Finally gets a Good Poster

We've had several variations on a theme. First attempts were concerned with action and location.

Problem is it's too generic. It says, 'old-timey desert fighting'. That doesn't tell us much -- we don't know what's at stake. And, that biplane is a little off-putting for most audiences. You gotta have a good reason to want to see a movie with a biplane, and this poster doesn't supply that. Also, that the story revolves around oil is hardly apparent -- you can't really tell that's an oil well on the left side of the sun. And, there's no sense of character -- necessary considering the storyline:

Set in the 1930s Arab states at the dawn of the oil boom, the story centers on a young Arab prince torn between allegiance to his conservative father and modern, liberal father-in-law.

Next poster takes a swipe at adding a sense of character:

See the guy on the camel raising his rifle defiantly? That's got to be Antonio Banderas (we can't see his face, but I'll hazard a guess) and the fact he's raising his rifle denotes character, leadership, a willingness to fight, etc. I'm sure of it. It must. Right? Sure... Personal conflict and character? -- check.

Also fixed is the lack of clarity concerning oil. Yes, yes. We get it. There are now, count them, six oil rigs. This movie is about oil. Can't miss that.

Improved as well is the biplane -- now in some sort of mechanical peril. You can tell because it's trailing smoke. Ooh!

Taken together, these improvements are exciting, but alas...mechanical. There's no sense of sweeping drama, we don't have a central character to connect with (aside from the anonymous camel rider with a rifle), and the disparate elements amount to boilerplate conflict.

They addressed these issues with the next poster:

Ah. Very David Lean. And! we can see faces. There are identifiable people we can connect with. Much better, but kinda soap-opera-y, and still with that biplane (although, in fairness, it looks like it's starting its attack run instead of about to fall out of the sky, which, you know, is gripping, edge-of-your-seat, and all). The oil-drilling equipment has been reduced in number, thankfully, and (to offset the cutback) set on fire to make up for it.

Still the poster just doesn't have a spine and seems a bit busy. Whereas we didn't have any faces in previous posters, now we have too many. Who are all these people? Is one of the guys a conservative father and the other a modern thinking father-in-law? They look kinda young for those roles. We don't know. If they're not fathers, who are they? We just don't know. That's a lot of uncertainty for one graphic.

You know what really spoils this poster, though? Freida Pinto: right smack in the middle of all that macho posturing. She's a distraction, and a prominent one at that. Doesn't belong. Love Freida, but she's not right in this rendition. It's just off. Don't think so? Disagree? I offer as exhibit #1: (Speaking of David Lean) the poster for 'Lawrence of Arabia'

See? No women. Love interests, romance, not included. Okay, I guess there isn't such an element in this movie, if memory serves. Some major bro-mance to be sure, what with Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, and Omar Sharif all making eyes at each other, yes, but no women (I think. It's been a while). Anyway, there's no 'meet my better half' silliness in this great one sheet.

You have to admit, the Lawrence approach works. You see this poster and you goddam well want to watch the movie. Take my money, dammit!

Yeah. It's just a bit pandering to sell the 'girlfriend' in a poster for such a movie. We want romance, yes, but not the 'she's my main squeeze' type. We want the grand classic idealistic brand of romance.

And this next poster, finally, gets the mix just right. A very fine effort.

Good work. A nice combo of the action elements from the first poster with a very romantic (in the dramatic sense) Antonio Banderas? (the only identifiable face thank you very much). And, taking a cue from O'Toole of Arabia, he has sword in hand, leading men into battle to fight for honor, all with a sense of sweeping drama, far away lands of yore, chivalry, one lone oil rig (surrounded by smoke but, apparently, not on fire), and (still)...that damn biplane. That plane better be important.

I feel like watching something. Where is that DVD of 'Lawrence of Arabia' anyway?


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