Schindler’s List (1993)
Sometimes the most effective posters are the simplest, the ones that offer the least amount of graphics, the least amount of text, and the least amount of information. Often it’s a single image that will feature, something that is integral to the mood of the movie, or gives an impression of the subject matter. At other times, it’s just the movie’s title, bold against a plain background, that is all that’s needed. In many ways it’s this simplicity that is more effective than a poster that has lots of things “going on” in it, where the publicity department has decided sensory overload is the way to go.
But this poster for Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece is a perfect match for the movie’s solemn, haunting intensity. With its uncompromising black background and sombre appearance the potential viewer is immediately alerted to the serious nature of the movie itself. It’s a striking effect, that background, harsh and forbidding and so unlike the usual colourful or artistically driven posters that we’re more used to.
The background, while effective on its own, also serves to highlight the three components that make up the only respite from all that darkness. There’s the legend “A Film by Steven Spielberg” tightly assembled above the movie’s title, the first of three complementary fonts used, but not overshadowing the title, its larger, more decorative appearance drawing the eye first and foremost. And then the eye is drawn downward to the quote from the Talmud, the words slightly transparent towards the top of each letter, as if the very saying itself is in danger of disappearing, a subtle underlining of its importance to the story itself.
And then there’s the single image, a dying candle in its holder, a red flame representing fading hope but also endurance, its splash of colour both relevant to the image and reflective of the visual motif that appears in the movie itself. It’s a quiet masterstroke, a beautiful touch that speaks volumes, affecting and dramatic and powerful all at the same time.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to let me know.