We live in an age of the great Hollywood blockbuster. A time where a hundred million dollars or more is used to furnish a flick with state of the art special effects. Why then, can’t we have equally impressive movie posters. Instead of A1 sheets that capture the majesty of these tentpole films, we get the usual teal and orange combo for a generic poster. There used to be a man with skills of legend in another Hollywood golden age. His name was Drew Struzan, and he cranked out poster after poster, creating masterpieces for the masses. Here then, are just a few of his best pieces.
- Masters of the Universe
Masters of the Universe is a turkey of a movie, a big budget epic with hammy acting and even bigger muscles. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine, make no mistake, and to this day I still love reciting the Skeletor speech when Mormons come knocking on my door. So how did Hollywood manage to sucker an entire generation of kids into seeing this train wreck? With pure skillz that paid the billz on the movie poster via Struzan of course.
- Big trouble in little China
I don’t think words can even accurately describe the sheer awesomeness of this poster. Big Trouble in Little China may star Kurt Russell, but this is essentially the Chuck Norris of movie posters.
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Towards the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s, you could sense that the end was near for the era of the Struzan movie poster. The man had left a stamp on Hollywood, and an inspired generation who carried on his style and legacy. But one of his final posters for a big screen film would be for the very first Harry Potter flick. And it was one hell of a piece of art with which to kick off that franchise.
You ask anyone about Blade Runner, and most of them still have no idea what the moral of the story was at the end. It’s a great film, make no mistake, and balacning human identity, existentialism, Japanese sushi restaurants and thigh-fu was no easy task. Now ask a movie poster artist to put all of that onto a single sheet, and most of them would quickly jump off the nearest bridge instead. But once again, Struzan nailed it.
- Indiana Jones
Good ol’ Indina Jones. For me, it wasn’t seeing that trademark fedora or whip that sold me on a new Indy flick. It was those magnificent posters from Struzan, dotting the walls of my local cinema auditorium of juxtaposed images. Just seeing Indy on a 2D format, with a glint of danger in his eye and a cocksure smirk made me ready to go on a new adventure. Where nothing could possibly go wrong in any of his three movies. NOTHING.
Less is more, Hollywood will often tell you. They’ll craft a poster which just hints at the larger than life characters coming your way. And then you’ll get this piece of art which should be in the Louvre, busting down that door and flooding the studio with light. Red means stop for awesome in my book.
- Star Wars
Choosing your favourite Star Wars poster is much like choosing which testicle you’d like to keep should you ever find yourself in an oddly specific predicament. And even though two-thirds of the prequel trilogy has resulted in a bunch of memories that people would love to forget, the one light side of the Force here was that Lucas managed to drag Struzan back to do the posters for his new flicks. Hell, the man even managed to paint Jar Jar Binks onto a canvas without punching a hole through it. Now that’s real talent.
Back to the Future
Most artists get a bit of flak when they recycle the same image several times. But not the Struzanator. He didn’t just re-use an image for the Back To The Future Trilogy. He amplified them. He added to them, took them up to 88MPH and created iconic images. Where we’re going, we don’t need no standard movie posters!
As a kid, Hook terrified me. There in front of you, was the dandiest man possible, decked out like Jan Van Riebeek fanart and with a hand that you would not want to have confused when you needed to wipe your arse after sitting on a toilet. He looked ludicrous. And yet, he was bloody terrifying. And Struzan captured that.
The Cannonball Run
You’ve seen the future, the past and science fiction dominate the work that Struzan created. But he wasn’t always the summer blockbuster go-to guy. Folks forget that he started with simpler films first, before hitting the big time. But out of all those posters, his Cannonball Run splash page has to be my favourite. It’s a goofy film, but Struzan somehow manages to capture not only the fun of that illegal race, but the characters of each entrant as well and throw them together into one great layout. Maximum speed my ass, this poster will always be legendary to me.
Last Updated: May 22, 2014