1984 Film Poster Visual Communication Project

At the beginning of last week, my Visual Communication class and I were given a live brief to design a promotional poster for the ‘Cube Cinema’ in Bristol. The week-long project consisted of creating a poster that could advertise the cinema’s April listings or one of three choices; ‘Fear Eats the Soul’, ‘Miss Coco Peru’, and ‘1984’. I very quickly decided to choose the film ‘1984’, due to the immediate visual language that comes with the film and novel. I also really liked the dark imagery that the film conveys through the themes of control and betrayal. I also found the storyline incredibly interesting and powerful, especially due to current events in politics and the media, mirroring the ideas and events within the novel and film.

I began my research by looking at various book covers of ‘1984’ to see how illustrators interpreted the plot into imagery. I found that the most common colour scheme was red and black, perhaps to reflect the propoganda which is present throughout the storyline. Many of the covers also included graphic imagery and typography, with the title often being large and bold. I feel all the aspects mentioned made them successful covers and therefore I will try and use this criteria to create a successful film poster.

To ensure I understood the film, I watched the trailer and an analysis of the film, in an attempt to comprehend the plot. It made me think to include possible imagery such as torn posters, shadows, screens, and human anatomy.

I also wanted to look into the novel. I hadn’t read the book by Orwell before and unfortunately I didn’t have time for this project. However I briefly skimmed through it to see if any phrases inspired imagery to include in my initial ideas. Some of the most poignant phrases I picked up on were ‘BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU’, ‘To mark the paper was a decisive act’ and ‘WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH’.

From here I began to illustrate imagery of John Hurt and human anatomy such as the heart in an attempt to create an interesting image. This resulted in numerous illustrations of John Hurt’s character Winston’s body with various different images to replace his head. I thought this might convey the idea that he has lost any sense of control over his thoughts through the absence of his head. I began by replacing it with typography of ‘1984’, to mimic the book covers where typography was the main focus. I then replaced the head with a human heart to portray how ultimately he is led astray by his love for Julia and not by his mind. I also created versions with various scribbles and doodles to convey the loss of control over his imagination, which he allows to roam free in an environment where freedom of thought is illegal. I then took these illustrations and dragged them through the photocopier twisting and contorting the paper as I went. This created an unexpected and successful result.

I then took the imagery I had created and transferred it into photoshop to enable a quicker pace of experimentation. From here I adjusted the saturation and the levels of the images. I tried different combinations, such as some with and some without a figure. I decided to scan in an image I had retrieved from a National Geographic to create the textured and post-apocalyptic style background. I then added in the text and logo of the cinema, playing around with different fonts, colours and sizes.

The final result can be seen below:


Overall, I really enjoyed this week-long project as I felt I had the freedom to explore with different ideas and mediums. I feel even though ‘1984’ was the most highly chosen film to respond to, it was still the best choice for me personally, as it allowed me to respond in a way which fits with my natural style of working. One aspect which I slightly regret about my poster is the lack of emphasis on the image of ‘1984’. I realised this after looking at fellow students’ responses to the brief, which were often very successful due to the graphic boldness of the title. I feel my poster is quite ambiguous and therefore may work well as an image but not as a promotional piece. However I am still pleased with the final piece and I hope I can use similar ideas in future projects.

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