'24x36: A Movie About Movie Posters'
(Joe Dante, Thomas Hodge, et al / DVD / NR / (2016) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)
Overview: '24x36' is a documentary that explores the birth, death and resurrection of illustrated movie poster art. Through interviews with a number of key art personalities from the past 4 decades, 24x36 aims to answer many questions: What happened to the illustrated movie poster? Where did it disappear to, and why?
DVD Verdict: In so many ways, I have been waiting for a film / documentary like this to come out - and now it's here I have to declare that it was well worth the imaginative wait!
A film that rightly garnered a Fantastic Fest World Premiere, '24x36' examines the lost art of movie poster illustration and makes a compelling argument for the art form's continued cultural relevance.
Early on, the film tells us a great truth: posters are often more iconic than any one scene of a movie. "Jaws" comes to mind, as do others, where it is the poster that has become the popular image. And yet, do any of these names sound familiar: John Alvin (1948-2008), Bob Peak (1927-1992), Reynold Brown (1917-1991), Richard Amsel (1947-1985), Drew Struzan (b. 1947). Probably not, though they were the true giants of the poster art world.
The studios saw the posters as advertising, not art. And while that is true in the strictest sense, it left many great artists unappreciated. More often than not, no signatures were allowed on the posters, and the work from the earliest years in now anonymous. Who painted the great posters of Frankenstein's monster? We will never know.
As anyone who lived through the 1980s-1990s knows, in the late 80s, there was a shift to photography, with the idea that artistic posters might suggest an animated film. This claim that pops up again and again, and sounds absurd on its face, but one scene actually has a focus group looking at posters and making the exact same comment.
The "art" in poster art took a dive in the 1990s, leaving us with "floating heads" and the same layout was used over and over again. For horror fans, this was evident in the teen horror films ("Scream", "Last Summer") and has not really stopped. Even the more creative posters today seem to rehash the same poses and images over and over and over.
So, is poster art dead? No. Because '24x36' covers a longer history, a new trend. Not just the history of lithographs and the decline of posters, but its new resurgence thanks to the rise of Mondo, its eccentric leader Rob Jones, and the new art from specialty Blu-ray labels like Scream Factory and Arrow Video. And this generation of artists, such as Gary Pulling, are not anonymous.
Indeed, '24x36: A Movie About Movie Posters' is a much-needed piece of film history. There are many biopics, and there have been focuses on the special effects. Those behind the scenes are finally getting their due. But what of the painters and sketch artists who really drove the images into our collective, pop culture imagination? Now their story can be told! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
30 Minutes of Additional Interviews