Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Poster posture: The fantasy mound

There's a recurring motif in posters from fantasy movies of the late 1970's and continuing through the 80's: the (almost always) male hero posing on top of a mound, surrounded by images of the characters and landscapes of his adventure, weapon raised, with a woman placed next to him — sometimes seemingly submissive and dependent upon him for protection, at all times sexualized and occupying a lower space in the composition.

Below are examples of this motif from several movie posters. Some of the films were probably lower-budget attempts to cash in on the sword-and-sandal craze ostensibly set off by Conan the Barbarian (1982). Others were almost certainly sex-and-violence exploitation films (I admit there are a few on this list I have not seen). But this poster style was used by more successful mainstream films as well, as early as 1977's Star Wars. The style was used outside of the fantasy genre (though perhaps just barely) in the Clint Eastwood cop adventure The Gauntlet, parodied by two of National Lampoon's Vacation comedies, given a female hero variation for Barbarian Queen (1985) and Warrior Queen (1987), and echoed decades later in the poster for Tron Legacy (2010), the sequel to Tron (1982), which also used the style.

This motif reflects the concerns of a genre often aimed — accurately or not — at a young male audience: weapons (frequently phallic), life's challenges made physical and solvable by battle, and the role of women as the hero's reward.

Star Wars (1977)

The Gauntlet (1977)

The Norseman (1978)

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Tron (1982)

The Beastmaster (1982)

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

Fire and Ice (1983)

Sword of the Barbarians (Sangraal, the Sword of Fire, 1983)

Warriors of the Wasteland (The New Barbarians, 1983)

The Blade Master (Ator 2 - L'invincibile Orion, 1984)

The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984)

National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985)

Barbarian Queen (1985)

Warrior Queen (1987)

Tron Legacy (2010)


Post a Comment