Creativity within Movie Posters: Parasite

Written by Steph Burns (3167495)

Recently, I’ve become quite bored with a lot of movie posters as I find a sizable amount of them formulated and lacking in creativity. Often times many posters, especially of the same genre, have the same colours, compositions and overall feel. For me, they just get lost in the saturated market and I often forget about them. On the other hand, if a poster for a movie is quite creative or inciting to me, I’ll likely be interested in seeing it, (which makes sense, as a graphic design student). This was a major factor in me seeing the South Korean movie, Parasite, last year. I initially heard about it after hearing so many positive reviews about the film. I then searched it up, saw the main poster for it and I knew I had to see it.

designed by Kim Sang-man, 2019
designed by Kim Sang-man, 2019

The poster is designed by film and art director Kim Sang-man (shown above) and features many important aspects to the movie, such as the rock, teepee, and the positioning of certain characters. Looking at the overall design of the poster, it’s unclear what the actual story is about. That’s actually intended, as the director advises the film is best experienced if the viewer knows as little as possible about the plot. Another important aspect to the design that adds to the mystery is the coloured bars over the eyes of each character; their eyes are concealed to further abstract the individual person and to show the initial equality of the characters.

official posters for Parasite from, clockwise from top left, the US, Vietnam, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia and Greece
official posters for Parasite from, clockwise from top left, the US, Vietnam, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia and Greece

The main poster for the film doesn’t change locally, but the title of the film and typeface changes depending on the language (shown above). Despite the difference, whatever typeface that’s used suggests uniqueness and a degree of tension. For example, with the English poster, the terminals of some end strokes don’t end in a serif while others do. It also features atypical changes in stroke weight that feature drastic shifts from thick strokes to tiny, curved ones. This creates a battle of balance between the letters that can be related to the major theme of the movie, which features a social commentary on class and the hierarchy between the rich and poor.

Additionally, because of the response to the film and the overall art direction within the original main poster, there have been many alternative posters made with I think are worth mentioning (shown below). Although the main poster uses photography, a lot of these alternative posters use illustration; I think that’s interesting to note as the majority of these posters were created as secondary to the main one. Perhaps there’s an underlying understanding that within this period, illustration is less marketable than the typical photographic and image based film posters that heavily dominates the industry. I think it’s interesting to observe the differences between these posters, but it’s clear that the concept of hierarchy is explicitly shown in all of them.

an alternative art poster from Canadian artist Marie Bergeron, 2019
an alternative art poster from Canadian artist Marie Bergeron, 2019
For the French Blu-ray release of the film, Korean artist Jisu Choi chose to represent the house of one of the family that plays a key role in the film
For the French Blu-ray release of the film, Korean artist Jisu Choi chose to represent the house of one of the family that plays a key role in the film
alternative art for the U.K. release, designed by design firm La Boca, 2020
alternative art for the U.K. release, designed by design firm La Boca, 2020
Alternative UK poster, designed by Andrew Bannister, 2020
Alternative UK poster, designed by Andrew Bannister, 2020

Works Cited: 

Curry, Adrian. “Movie Poster of the Week: The Posters of ‘Parasite.’” MUBI, 24 Jan. 2020, mubi.com/notebook/posts/movie-poster-of-the-week-the-posters-of-parasite.

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