Book Review: Selling the Movie: The Art of the Film Poster, by Ian Haydn Smith • Glam Adelaide

Book Review: Selling the Movie: The Art of the Film Poster, by Ian Haydn Smith

A cinematic expose of movie posters through the 20th Century and how they’ve reflected a changing society and changing purpose.

This is a cinema buff's, or visual aficionado's delight.

Ian Haydn Smith knows movies – and so he should. He’s a film journalist, critic and author. He is also the editor of the best-selling 1001 Films to See Before You Die. Smith knows his movies but in this release, he has focused on a particular pre-release aspect – the movie poster.

Cataloguing over 100 years of evolution of the movie poster, Selling the Movie is a visual feast and informative narrative of the way that posters have changed and where their focus has been, in the quintessential sale of movies.

From the early days and the ‘creation’ of the movie poster  as a cabaret marketing tool, to an exploration of how their designs were influenced by the need to sell – the movie, the stars (an aspect that truly changed the structure of the poster design), or the cinematic genre.

Smith also focuses on the designers, the directors, the genre types – horror, sci-fi, film noir – even the actors whose faces adorn the posters, in some cases over a number of decades (particularly any movie with Clint Eastwood) to provide a deeper exploratory narrative.

With many of the posters, there is an added sidenote on the style and the message, giving a further context to what it was that the poster was designed to convey.

It is a weighty tome – both in physical and intellectual heft – and is likely to become a handbook for the future designers of cinema, or even those who engage in their own ‘in-house’ design.

Covering the 10 decades of the 20th Century, the early 2000s and looking ahead to what is next for the movie poster – encouraging ask to ask the question, what will bring us to the movies? – this is a cinema buff, or visual aficionado’s delight.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

Distributed by: Murdoch Books
Released: December 2018
RRP: $49.99

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