Saturday, November 10, 2007

100 Greatest Movie Posters: #86 - Ordinary People

Ordinary People (1981)
Directed by Robert Redford
Unknown Designer
Film Nationality - USA
Poster Nationality - USA

[click to enlarge]

In the past I have railed against movie posters that are simply a small image in the corner (oddly, more often than not it is in the bottom right hand corner) surrounded by a whole lot of nothing, just big empty space. Perhaps it's because the empty space isn't the dreaded white (ugh) or because the empty space actually feels like a natural part of the image and not just some space they forgot to put something, but I think it works on this poster for Robert Redford's best picture winner Ordinary People. I guess I'm saying that if your movie poster is going to utilise this most frustrating of designs then the worst you could do is copy this one.

Unlike most of the posters that can be characterised by big empty nothingness, the image that is the central point of focus is one that works incredibly well for the film. Ordinary People is all about the tension-filled emptiness that surrounds the three main characters (Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland and Timothy Hutton). Introducing this family through the most typical of family mantle-holders, the picture frame, already tells you the initial crux of the story and the tagline - "Everything in it's proper place..." (I could have done without "Except the past") - alludes to that time-honoured tradition of upper-class suburbanites hiding secrets and making out that everything is a-okay. This theme became particularly popular again in the late '90s/early '00s with films such as American Beauty (also a best picture Oscar winner).

So, in the end, I found this poster to be a sublime and delicately haunting representation of a sublime and delicately haunting film.


J.D. said...

Is, like, everything that has to do with this film perfection or what? I love it so much.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I have no qualms with it beating Raging Bull for the Oscar, which is like a Brokeback/Crash moment for many others. I think Bull is the better film, but I really liked OP too so I don't care.