Heinz Schulz-Neudamm, Metropolis poster, 1926
Black Panther, 2018 ~ Jeff Bridges, Tron: Legacy, 2010 ~ Bob Peak, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1979
As graphic design progressed, so did the treatment of visual culture around the world. The influence of design is not only limited to the current times of a certain style’s existence, but extends throughout the dense history and its future impact. From posters to prints, magazines to novels, and navigation to logos, graphic design is essential in world understanding, the articulation of technique, and visual representation of expression.
Following the history of German movie posters, their appearance strongly influenced the movie posters of even todays motion picture appearance. After the loss of Germany and Austria during World War 1, Germany quickly declined and faced economic hardship and political disability. This resulted in German currency diminishing in worth, forcing its citizens to search for available jobs. As the German Empire ended, design and the Bauhaus school of art rose to success. In the attempt to modernizing the world, Germany looked towards design and prints in order to regain stability and clarity. It was during this time when film was introduced to mass media, this included the German expressionist science-fiction film Metropolis. In 1927, the poster release for the film showcases a robot woman situated in the foreground while surrounded by an array of buildings and spotlights, while the title Metropolis is written in a bold and sharp font above. The expressionist approach showcases the theme of technology and its role within an industrial society, revealing the film’s overall subject matter and narrative.
The visual direction for the Metropolis became known for its beautiful approach and powerful designs, resulting in such an immense impact for future movie posters. Movies such as Star Trek, Tron: Legacy, and Black Panther are just a few of today’s movies who suggest their inspiration through their poster designs. The themes of technology are evident in their futuristic quality. Metropolis showcases the modernity of the city in its architectural background while the female robot is the main figure of the composition. The other three posters also feature technology in both their appearance and the movie portrayal, where the setting is taking place during a time of increased technological advances. Aside from the subject matter of the movies, all four of their appearances offer extremely similar compositions. They all possess vertical compositions and symmetrical layouts as well as elements of light. They also showcase characters of the movie with their gazes locked towards the viewers with intent or almost challenging their eye-contact. Not only do the images connect, but the typefaces also associate with one another. Similar to the poster of Metropolis, Star Trek, Tron: Legacy, and Black Panther incorporate typefaces for their titles that correlate to the theme of the movie, especially in an angular and stylized style.
Graphic design is and always will be essential within visual culture. Comparing the Metropolis poster with the posters of Star Trek, Tron: Legacy, and Black Panther shows the great impact and strong influences of graphic design history among contemporary art. Despite the large time gap between the posters, the corresponding themes, compositions, visual elements, character positioning, and expressive type demonstrates how earlier designs can serve as source for the future of graphic design.
Stephen J. Eskilson. “The Arts and Crafts Movement.” Graphic Design: A New History, Second Edition. Yale University Press, 2012. 50-53. Print.
yankee260. “Metropolis Movie POSTER 27 x 40, Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, B, LICENSED NEW.” EBay, Magnum Gifts, 21 Mar. 2019, www.ebay.com/itm/Metropolis-Movie-POSTER-27-x-40-Brigitte-Helm-Alfred-Abel-B-LICENSED-NEW-/182425226999.
“Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).” Original Film Art – Vintage Movie Posters, www.originalfilmart.com/products/star-trek-1979-3sheet.