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Emily King
224 Pages
Publisher: Mitchell Beazley (September 2003)
ISBN: 1840006536
Price: S$39.90 (Available in Borders)





With a title like “Movie Poster”, you might be expecting some form of comprehensive guide to the world of movie posters or at least a section of it. My advice to you would be to keep the expectation low and let the book sweep you to where it wants to.

The introduction of the book and numerous one-liner comments that pasted on the cover promise that this book will cover how selected director, iconic actor and country had their influence in each respective movie posters that they are involved in but upon a closer look, each write up mainly focus on their film history and what were they famous of. Their influences in the final movie posters or even the path of the movie poster’s creation were pretty much neglected.

For example, there are 3 paragraphs in the Citizen Kane section but majority of it was not used to describe or explain the Citizen Kane movie poster itself. Instead it touches on the controversy behind the film and what some critics thought of the film. While watching the Citizen Kane Dvd with Robert Ebert’s commentary, it was mention that almost every single frame of Citizen Kane had it’s reasons or cinematic values and yet in a section dedicated to this classic movie, the only mention of the movie poster was that “some of the poster carried the line “Everybody’s talking about it”, which, although true, turned out to be no advertisement”

It’s just too short and begs for more information.

While this book isn’t entirely without it’s merits. The write up on Saul Bass who designed the classic poster for West Side Story and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo was an informative one. It touches on his style which basically strips away layers of complexity and uses a strong graphic symbol as the key point to the plot of the movie. A style that distinct Saul Brass from other movie poster designers. However there are too few sections on the posters designers and instead, the focus here were mainly spent on the movie directors and actors.

In fairness sake, this book does try to cover as much variety and different category of movie posters but by doing that, it felt that this book tries to bite off more than it can chew. It might have something new to offer to folks who are new to movies or someone who is seeking an introduction to older classic movies but otherwise it’s pretty much a misfire.


“It’s often said that movie posters communicate the essence of film. This is not entirely true. In some cases poster and film are tied closely together and speak with one voice, the former summarizing the latter. In others, they are utterly separate, created by unallied bodies and sending out related but not identical messages”


Movie Poster felt like it was a “Jack of all trades but master of none” type of book on movie posters. The direction of the book felt rather whimsical and does not provide as much information about movie poster as one hope for. But then, as a Coffee Table Book, this visually oriented with just enough information will serve it’s purpose to alleviate boredom or simply entertain anyone with time to kill.


Biographies of Selected Artists: Although not every artist received a special mention in the book, there's a mini biography page that briefly touches on the selected group who had left a memorable mark in the field of movie posters.

Review by Richard Lim Jr



. The Film Snob's Dictionary



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