Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Is there NOTHING new under the sun?

Every now and again I see something that makes me wonder if originality has completely disappeared from moviemaking today... particularly from the publicity/advertising department (an aspect which, I have to admit, has always fascinated me). It is a subject I should probably make the focus of one of my future entries. For the present though, I shall simply draw your attention to three movie posters.

Here's a one-sheet I stumbled across today for the film Becoming Jane, which comes out later this year, about Jane Austen.

Now, here is a poster for the big-screen adaptation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice that came out in 2005.

And finally, going ALL the way back to 1995, here is the poster for Ang Lee's version of Austen's Sense & Sensibility.

A picture is worth a thousand words, eh?


johanna said...

I'm glad somebody said it. As a female, I can't even tell you how dangerous it is in certain company to even criticize these films -- actually, Jane Austen, her books, and the films made from them are all risky subjects for someone with a blithe tongue!

But what are you thinking of more specifically? If you had been given the job of making one of these posters, what would you have done differently? Would you have widened the audience scope, or would you have made concessions to the presumed market of women looking for a romantic period piece with really great cinematography as a selling point when talking their sig. others into going to see it with them?

Damian said...

First of all, I want to be clear that I am not necessarily criticizing the films themselves. I actually quite liked both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice (something that, as a guy, my female friends tell me is very brave to admit). Becoming Jane intrigues me (not least of all because I myself had a very similar idea for a movie about a young Jane Austen... but that's another conversation).

Primarily, I am taking issue with the publicity of these latter two films. I don't know that I would've necessarily tried to "widen the scope" of the advertising. A lot of times that translates into "making-a-film-look-like-something-other-than-what-it-really-is" (i.e. "tricking" people into coming to see it). I think one can still appeal to the intended audience of a film without copying the same essential "style" of the poster to a previous successful film which was similar. I thought this same thing when I first saw the poster for 2005's Pride and Prejudice but decided to give the advertisers the benefit of the doubt that it could still possibly be a coincidence. When I saw the poster to Becoming Jane the other day it became all too clear to me what was really going on.

Consider the poster to Miramax's Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow. This was released in 1996 (only one short year after Sense and Sensibility). Granted it could be criticized as one of those non-imaginative "big star's heads" posters of which Hollywood is so fond, but at least it did something different from Sense and Sensibility. It is also, I think, quite charming and captires very well the "essence" of the film's story/aesthetic.

It's interesting that you should ask me what I personally would've done differently because I am not sure what I would've done specifically in the case of the latter two films' to distinguish their one-sheets from the others, but I did have occasion to design the poster to a stage production of Pride and Prejudice (it is here in case you're curious) several years back. I don't know how "original" this was (the "P&P" logo comes from the A&E mini-series and the painting, one of my favorites, is by Monet: Jeanne-Marguerite Lecadre in the Garden), but it certainly pleased me. ;)

johanna said...

I like the dvd (or was it vhs?) cover I saw of Emma some years ago, where Paltrow was in the foreground with a bow and arrow and a man was lurking in the background, and so i think i understand what you mean...

I was watching the Masterpiece Theatre production of Jane Eyre last night on public tv and although that's not Austen, I found myself naturally comparing the two authors and the visual styles that different directors associate with each of them...and I think that as time goes on, perhaps more latitude will be given to their interpretation.

Wouldn't it be great, for example, to see Pedro Amoldovar re-envision Sense and Sensibility or the beaten path of what's been done? ...and that's coming from someone who also likes these sorts of films, for the most part. My complaints are smallish.

Squish said...

Ouch. Homogenization of thought makes yummy soup.

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