Movie Posters: Capturing the Essence of a Story

byKaren Yarnall


There is a feeling of magic and excitement when one enters a movie theatre, settles in a chosen seat and then the house lights are dimmed. Anticipation mounts while waiting to be transported into a storytelling experience. The previews for upcoming films that precede this experience can sometimes generate just as much excitement, especially if the preview is for a long-awaited film like the Irish The Secret of Roan Inish or a sequel in a series like Star Wars or Harry Potter.

This unit should tap into that excitement, capture the students' attention and let them embark on a journey of discovery and learning. This will be accomplished through a cross curricular unit that will combine the study of storytelling in films with the art of movie poster illustration. The culminating activity will be the creation of a movie poster that each student will individually create from a film of their choice. Many of our students have grown up immersed in the pop film culture fashioned around Hollywood. To produce a greater understanding, foreign films will be explored along with more traditional Hollywood fare like the landmark Jaws and Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. Through the watching of foreign films, students will hopefully develop an appreciation and sensitivity for storytelling and graphic art traditions that differ from their own. The Irish film Into the West will be shown in its entirety first so that the students can become familiar with the process of exploring the storytelling traditions and elements in it. A variety of films produced in other countries will be explored by watching only the trailers for films such as The Secret of Roan Inish, the French animated African tale Kirikou and the Sorceress and the Chinese Not One Less. These trailers (also known as previews) are snippets, tiny narratives or condensations that will allow the students to pick up the essence of the film without having to spend classroom time viewing the entire feature. Thanks to the internet, these trailers can be readily viewed in the classroom. They are only as far away as the fingertips.

Students will be learning about and combining at least four different but related disciplines such as literature, filmmaking, history, and art illustration. All involve storytelling techniques and will be examined. This will involve the students actively gaining knowledge of storytelling, films, posters and art. First this will be accomplished by the viewing and discussion of the film Into the West. Then movie trailers will be explored using the knowledge of appropriate film techniques, devices and vocabulary that students will explore as we progress through the unit. After studying some of the history of poster art along with art criticism techniques, composition and the elements of art and principles of design, students will also examine and critique the posters that accompany these films. The internet is again a wonderful source for easily obtaining and showing posters in the classroom. Each viewed trailer will be analyzed and discussed as will the movie posters for that particular film.

Students will watch demonstrations of different art techniques and processes involving various art materials and then they will practice using them. Since the classes that will be involved in my teaching of this unit will both be Advanced Drawing, the students will already have background knowledge and some expertise in art. After research and working out their ideas through thumbnails (small "idea" sketches on paper) and self, group and class critiques, the students will then design their own individual posters. The assignment will be approached as a "real world" free lance job or as that of an on-staff studio artist. The students will be supposedly "hired" by a studio or independent producer to create movie posters for a film advertising campaign. The students will sign a contract, complete with deadlines. They will design a poster for an existing film that they have researched. These will be exhibited in an art show that the students will help mount in our school library at the completion of the unit.

As a high school art teacher in Delaware, I am designing this unit to be taught in my two Advanced Drawing classes. These classes are comprised predominantly of juniors and seniors. However, this unit can be adapted for middle school use and for disciplines other than art. My school's population is over 50% minority and 35% low income, and the students herald from a variety of countries. My classes reflect our diverse population. I have classes in which a class valedictorian may be sitting next to a REACH student. Our REACH students are those who have special needs that exceed those of our special education inclusion students. All of our students can be successful with this material and all can create effective posters. The different levels of understanding and sophistication are normal and should not detract from the final results of the posters. My school's one and a half hour block classes meet every other day and I envision this unit taking over three weeks. The time will be adjusted as needed when I actually teach it.

Many school districts have embraced the model of UbD or Understanding by Design/Arts Learning by Design. It is also known as Backwards Design. This unit can easily be converted to that model and I have included some essential questions and big ideas that are associated with this type of model.

This unit has grown out of the stimulating seminar "Storytelling around the Globe" that I took with Dudley Andrew, the R. Seldon Rose Professor of Film Studies and Comparative Literature at Yale. As I learned more, I became more aware of everything that I did not know about storytelling and the making of films in different countries. I could study the films of just West Africa for a year and still lack sufficient depth of knowledge, especially about the current political implications, ancient rituals and spirituality. Dudley Andrew posed the question during seminar, "How do we present other cultures without falling into the commonplaces?"1 I do not want to perpetuate stereotypes and misconceptions about other cultures so I plan to be very honest with my students and explain that the material being presented is just the tip of the iceberg. This unit will give them understandings and skills that they did not previously possess and possibly spur them on to do continued research on their own. This unit will help to point them in the right direction if they wish to do so.


One of the major objectives of this unit involves the student development of increased sensitivity towards other cultures and a better understanding of others and their storytelling traditions through the use of film and movie posters. Films can serve as a window into the lives of others from other countries. This will include the students' understanding of point of view. If students can understand others' viewpoints in literature, films and art, then they should hopefully be able to communicate better with others.

Students will understand the purposes for the existence of movie posters and trailers. Author and movie poster collector Tony Nourman writes, "Originally designed to attract attention and create desire, film posters were the principle way of telling people what was showing at their local cinema. Today, the imagery of the film poster has come to be known as 'key art.' It is expected to unlock, in perhaps sixty seconds or less, the heart of the film, while at the same time generating enough interest to open the public's wallet."2 Another author and collector, Miles Barton, writes, "The idea, to get people through the theater doors, was plain and simple enough. The poster was the key promotional item produced by a studio in a broad advertising campaign to sell tickets. Ephemeral products, they were meant only to have a life as long as the movie they heralded."3 That part, however, has changed. Nourmand writes, "Today, as artifacts of an earlier period, movie posters are viewed in a different light. They are being collected by more and more people... The unique effect that comes from merging illustrations, lettering, layout and color to create a 'movie-at-a-glance' image interests graphic"4 This understanding is essential for the students to proceed in this unit. Movie trailers serve the same purpose as movie posters. They are meant to entice viewers to see the films they represent.

Students will employ a working vocabulary of film terms when discussing the meanings and symbolism in the film trailers. These terms will include but not be limited to editing, flashbacks, flash forwards, focus, genres, story or plot, scene and sequence, shot, décor, lighting, hinge functions, space, costumes, acting, and transitions. Interestingly enough, some of these terms such as rhythm, space, and light are used in both films and art and sometimes may be very similar in meaning. For example, early films (before the advent of color) were exclusively shot in black and white. When art students learn color theory and study painting, they often paint a study in black and white employing a tonal range of grays that fall between the two. Like the color symbolism in films, color usage in the visual arts conveys different connotations plus each color also has various meanings. Among other things, red can symbolize blood, anger, love or even the heat control on your car dashboard. White in some western cultures symbolizes purity, goodness and cleanliness and is frequently the color of wedding dresses. In China, white symbolizes death and is not the choice for traditional Chinese wedding garb. In China, red is associated with happiness and good fortune. In Jan Van Eyck's Renaissance wedding painting "The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini," the bride's green dress is usually interpreted as the representation of the green earth and fertility. Students will develop a better understanding of color symbolism both in films and art as we progress through the unit. By the time that they create their posters, they should understand how their use of color will be yet another effective tool for them to use to direct (or manipulate) the viewer's emotional responses.

Students should understand and be able to effectively use the elements of art and the principles of design. The elements can be compared to building blocks for the creation of art. Printed on the CollegeBoard AP poster is, "Design involves purposeful decision-making about using the elements and principles of art in an integrated way... The principles of design (unity/variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, rhythm, repetition, proportion/scale, and figure/ground relationship) can be articulated through the visual elements (line, shape, color, value, texture, space).."5 Artist and writer Laura Chapman writes this more common definition of the elements as "The visual "tools" artists use to create art. The elements (categories) include color, value, line, shape, form, texture and space."6 She explains the principles as being "Guidelines that help artists to create designs and control how viewers are likely to react to images. Balance, contrast, proportion, pattern, rhythm, emphasis, unity, and variety are examples of principles of design."7 After discussing the differences in the descriptions, students will better understand the discrepancies and realize that all are valid considerations.

Students are expected to understand basic poster terms including some basic sizes and collectors' terms. Barton explains poster sizes from "Six-sheett (81 by 81 inches). Extremely large style often used on billboards and at main city movie theatres. Folded and issued in four separate parts. Three-sheet (41 by 81 inches))" down through "One-sheet (27 by 41 inches) The most popular standard issue used in movie theaters and therefore more plentifully printed and certainly the most keenly sought size by collectors. Until more recent times, these were always folded for distribution and as such it is virtually impossible to find any pre-1950s poster without such folds.s."8 He also described other posters but I do not want to overwhelm the students with an excess of terms. To know that these classifications exist is sufficient. Barton discusses the condition of posters in his book and refers to a poster that is in mint condition as "Mint. A superb example with strong colors, no defects or faults other than that associated with its original distribution, such as folding."9 His other categories include near mint, fine, very good, good, fair and then ends with poor which he describes as "Poor. A hideous example! Usually extensive paper loss, staining, and tears, damage basically extensive all over and restoration desperately needed if a rare item."10

The students particularly need to understand what Barton describes as "Styles. Some posters are mentioned as being of a particular style code. This is due to the studios often releasing alternative designs to advertise the same movie in the same poster format. Some styles are more collectible than others..."11 Students will realize that many poster campaigns contain multiple styles as they start viewing and analyzing the posters. For example, I will show the movie posters for Into the West and ask them to comment on them. I feel that this film is a good choice because one of the posters is such a poor example that most of the students should be able to select it as the worst of the styles on the site. Its use of black and white is boring rather than striking, the abundance of text overwhelms the viewer and the image is lackluster. The other posters feature different styles but are not much better. One features the boys on the rearing horse that is reminiscent of the Wild West but it does not share the mystical quality of the film. Another featuring the white horse looks mystical but does not reveal much of the story. If one of the students does not suggest that the title in the trailer would make a great poster, then I will prompt the class. In the trailer, the letters "Into the West" appear on the predominantly rich blue evening sky and curve around as the horse runs by the sea. Now that would make a striking poster!

Before analyzing posters, the students will watch the entire film Into the West. We will discuss the themes of binary oppositions such as sea versus city, the modern world versus the old world, British versus Irish, TV versus campfire storytelling and horse versus helicopter. The horse's role will be discussed as the mender of the broken family as will be the parts that the characters play and the title's meaning. The students will be asked how an effective poster might reflect the core of the film. As the students watch trailers throughout the unit, they will be asked to watch for a key scene or image that they think will summarize the film or capture the essence for a movie poster. This will be a moment in the story that graphically gives the feeling for the whole story. They should also be alert for how two key images can be combined together to create an improved illustration. An outstanding example of this combining of crucial images is the King of Masks poster. In it, on the lower left, is an image of the beaming grandfather illusionist holding a happy Doggie, his adopted child. They are superimposed over a huge striking image of a mask on the right. The mask is drenched in colors that transition from brilliant red at the top to blues and grays.

The students will watch the trailer for the Irish tale The Secret of Roan Inish. The discussion that will follow will include the mood, tone, what they perceive to be the plot from the short bit they view, the use of graphics and images, and how compelling the trailer is in its mission to get them to see the film. They will be asked if they think that the trailer captures the essence of the film. How will they know if it does? I will fill in the plot for them after they pick out events in time, characters, main elements and any other striking observations. The next strategy would be the comparison of the trailers for Into the West and The Secret of Roan Inish. The trailers for both films capture the essence of the stories but the posters for the latter are stronger. They will also compare the posters for both films.

The importance of thumbnail sketches in developing ideas to create a poster that clearly communicates an idea will be stressed. Students are encouraged to become good problem solvers and explore multiple solutions to a design challenge. In this case, the challenge will be to design an effective movie poster. At least two of the thumbnails should be of designs in which the design elements are broken down into simplified, abstract images.

Students will combine all previously learned material about storytelling, the tone and essence of a film as captured in movie trailers with what they know about creating effective film posters into the culminating poster project. After seeing demonstrations and experimenting with different media, students will select the media that will work most effectively for the creation of their individual posters. Thoughtful, careful selection of media, materials and techniques will be stressed. Another objective is for students to accomplish this with the safe, responsible, non-wasteful use of these materials.

The students will be able to effectively describe, analyze, evaluate, and judge films and trailers and their own thumbnail sketches and posters and those of their peers. Evaluating and sharing ideas on the progress of the posters through critiques is an effective tool for the improvement of the posters.

Students will understand the elements of storytelling, narratology, narrative forms and functions. Students will understand the differing storytelling traditions of various countries, including the role of the griot in the oral traditions of African cultures. They should also understand that restrictions and censorship have been imposed for a variety of reasons including religious reasons on some filmmaking communities such as those in Iran and that politics can play an important part in others such as Cuba.

These objectives are aligned with the six Delaware State Art Standards which in turn reflect the National Art Standards. They are listed in the appendix.


By using a variety of teaching strategies to teach this unit, I can reach students with different learning styles. Since I teach art, many but not all of my students are visual learners. Also, students' interest should be stimulated and maintained by using diverse strategies and activities.

The first thing that my students will see when they enter the classroom will be movie posters covering the classroom. This will help to set the tone and draw them in. Posters can be obtained free sometimes from movie theatres and video stores. Video stores where I live usually charge $2 or $3 for their leftover posters. As a last resort (or if you actually have a budget), they can be purchased from a variety of places like bookstores, specialty stores, and the internet. Students can be involved by asking them if any work in a theatre and can obtain them or if any have posters that they are willing to lend.

On the board I will write some essential questions that students can ponder during the course of this unit. These can include "Why watch foreign films? How do storytelling traditions differ from country to country? What are the functions of trailers and movie posters and what do they have in common? What are the qualities of an effective movie poster?" Unit objectives and big ideas will also be written on the board and they too can alert the students to topics that will be discussed. I have a couple that I feel are essential to most art experiences so they stay on the board all year. I nicknamed them the "Double Cs." They stand for Creativity and Craftsmanship. Since I am an art teacher, instead of writing these on the board, I use calligraphy to write them on colorful strips of paper that are then taped on the board. I find these to be more visually stimulating.

Since I want my students to learn vocabulary pertaining to storytelling, films and poster art, the physical posting of these terms should make them more familiar to the students. This can be done with a word wall that has actual words printed on paper strips that are hung on a designated classroom area. Mine will be written on bright paper and since I have limited classroom space, the word wall will be on a cabinet door. Using a large font on the computer, I will print each of the categories on a different color. For example, film terminology can be printed on bright blue, story types can be on magenta, the elements of art can stand out on lemon yellow, the principles of design will be differentiated by using chartreuse, and so on.

The "Think-Pair-Sharere" strategy from CRISS (Creating Independence through Student-Owned Strategies))12 is an excellent way to involve students in generating ideas. Because of the large size of some of my classes, I adapt the practice to small group work instead. Large hands-on classes present multiple challenges so I adapt teaching methods and stretch limited supplies and space the best that I can. In this beginning activity, students will get in small groups at their tables, refer to the movie posters on the walls for inspiration, and then in a limited amount of time write down various functions that they perceive of a movie poster. One person in each group would volunteer to be the writer. Then a spokesman from each group would present their findings, one group at a time. This would facilitate discussion on the purposes of movie posters, piquing students' interest and hopefully serving as a "jumping off point" for the rest of the unit. The students would list the reasons on an 18" x 24" sheet of paper. The activity would be repeated for film trailers and the two would be compared. This group activity can be repeated as often as necessary to start discussion on any new topic such as types of stories. Students for that topic would probably come up with examples that would include myths, novels and short stories, folk tales, fables, legends, epics, romances, satires, comic books, graphic novels, and Manga.

Power point presentations that I will have created will also be used so that students can follow along with the material that is being presented. These will be rich in visual examples of some of the history of posters. Included will be posters from the studio of Walt Disney because they are so well documented and it is easy to see the progression of Mickey Mouse from his first appearance in black and white in 1928 to his present look. Jim Fanning writes in a book on Disney posters, "Since Mickey's pre-1935 films were in black and white, it was the posters that introduced the public to the brilliant reds and yellows that would become the Mouse's signature colors. The posters trace Mickey's evolution from mischievous barnyard merrymaker to established suburban citizen.."13 Disney went on to produce amazing landmark animated films like "Snow White" and Disney studio blockbusters are still being produced today.

My power point presentations will also highlight posters for films that also have posters that were produced for release in different countries. Not only is the information in another language, usually the entire design has been changed. I am making the power points from a combination of internet images and examples from poster books. Students will also see the influence of famous artists like Max Ernst and Salvador Dali on movie poster art. Many Hollywood-produced movie posters now feature photographic images. I will include some unique posters from other countries, including two jarring paintings from Onibaba, printed in 1964. One is Czechoslovakian and the other is from East Germany. Tony Nourman and Graham Marsh write, "Onibaba, a hypnotic tour de force, is a sepulchral work that combines shocking horror with beautiful photography. It is the haunting tale of a mother who is destroyed by her own jealousy. After donning a mysterious devil-mask to frighten away her daughter-in-law's suitor, she finds the mask is stuck to her face and can only be removed with horrific results.ts."14 The posters both contain startling painted images that incorporate masks. Some of the earlier Polish posters also use striking, startling artwork. Examples of the very distinctive and harsh Soviet movie posters from the 1920s will also be included.

To create anticipation and approximate the movie theatre experience for at least the first day of the viewing, popcorn will be provided for my students. Smells can be memory triggers and the smell of popcorn is strongly associated with movie theatres. I plan to buy large bags to share but will also pop at least one bag in the microwave so that the smell will help immerse them in the experience. The viewing of the films can involve the visual, olfactory and auditory senses.

Another strategy to help reinforce concepts and vocabulary words will be to pair up an example of a film genre with a trailer of a film from that genre. First the categories would be discussed. Then students will guess the type as the trailers are shown. For example, when the trailers for Mama Mia and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly are shown, students will probably guess that the first is a musical and the latter is a western. They can then analyze the details of the trailers to learn more about the genre.

To help explain the term visual memory and to show the impact that film scenes can have on a viewer, we will discuss how images can be indelibly and forever inscribed on memory. Examples can include the impact that the Psycho's iconic shower scene murder of Janet Leigh's character had on the public. That discussion can include how Hitchcock's implied violence compares to today's graphic horror films which leave little to the imagination. As a homework assignment, students will give an example of at least one scene that has had a lasting emotional impact on them. The scenes (without the students' names) will be listed on the board.

Homework will also include the students' research on artists who have worked in the medium of posters. Examples of prominent artists include Toulouse-Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha, Thomas Hart Benton, Norman Rockwell and Aubrey Beardsley. They can also research famous artists who have created or helped to create movie posters, or distinct periods of national styles can be examined.

The use of exit tickets can help students to stay focused on the task on hand and pay attention. Explain ahead so that they can be formulating possible questions or comments. Exit tickets can be used for a variety of daily activities. Each student would be given an index card or piece of paper upon entering class. You would determine the query. For example, after watching a specific trailer, each student would write on the card three ideas from it for a movie poster. As an alternative, students could write the genre or a memorable image from it. The exit cards would be handed in as the students exit class.

The strategy of using red, yellow and green cards for audience (student) participation can also be used. After showing a trailer, students would choose a card that would reflect their reaction to the success of the trailer (as in do they as viewers now want to see that film). Students would hold up the red cards if they thought that the trailer failed in its mission. The green cards would signify a "go" for a positive reaction. The yellow cards would signify ambivalence. A couple students for each color who wave their cards (signifying their desire to share) would be selected to discuss the qualities of the trailer that affected their decisions. Incorporated into the discussion would be the role that tastes play and how films fill a certain audience niche. A student who intensely dislikes horror films would probably not be enticed by the trailer to see one, no matter how intriguing or exciting the trailer.

Art critiques of the posters and film analysis exercises will be an essential part of this unit. Also included in the formative assessment process will be teacher one-on-one work with each student and a visual informal tracking of their progress by observing them as they work. .

Demonstration of art materials, techniques and processes will be given. Students will create their own posters. Creation is at the pinnacle of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy pyramid. The posters will be graded with a rubric. Students would also fill out a reflective thinking sheet upon completion of their posters and an evaluation of the whole unit. A pre-test and a test at the end can help evaluate learning.

There will be an art show of the finished posters in a gallery-type setting (the library). Next to each poster will be a plot synopsis that the students will compose that will aid the viewers in their understanding of the posters. That will serve as an additional writing component.

Additional information about Trailers

In the seminar with Dudley Andrew, a variety of representative foreign films were shown and analyzed, making them more familiar to me. Therefore, I have selected from some of the ones that we discussed in class and that I can also find on the internet for inclusion in this unit. Many of the comments that follow are from our class discussions. You are welcome to use any or all of these films or research your own. Only you can determine what you want your students to get out of the trailers you select. I will also look at the students in my targeted classes and possibly research films and posters from their countries for inclusion or ask them for suggestions. After each of these trailers is watched, the accompanying movie poster(s) will be shown. Foreign films give a sense of other styles and exposure to a range of ideas that often differ significantly from our own. The films are different and so are the graphics. I can not find trailers for some of the African films so I may show memorable film scenes instead.

Chinese Films

Included in the trailers that I want to show are two from China. The King of Masks is the touching story about a young girl who has been disguised as a boy so that she can be "adopted" by the King of Masks, an extraordinary performer/illusionist. He has no son to whom he can pass on his art. The poster for it is among my favorites. It captures the visual lushness, the heartening ending that bodes well for the empowerment of females in China, and the tone of the film. The other Chinese film is Not One Less and involves the struggles of an inexperienced 13 year old girl who has been hired as a substitute teacher in a rural village. The title refers to the bonus that she will receive if the teacher returns to "not one less" student in the class. It also refers to modern China's mission to not leave behind any citizen. We enjoy her journey as she becomes a better teacher and as she uses her resources and determination to hunt down an elementary student who has been forced to travel to a big city to find work.

Irish Films

Ireland is a society that still relies on the storytelling of old Irish tales. The oral memory helps keep their rich heritage alive. Both of the following films were influenced by British rule. The British tried to suppress their language and civilization. Included in both of the following films is a theme about the return to nature and roots.

Into the West is a story about travelers and a family that becomes dysfunctional with the death of the mother. The father abandoned the more organic living of the travelers for gritty city life. The boys go on a journey to save their mystical horse who is really leading them into the west, reuniting their family. The Secret of Roan Inish is a magical tale that also looks to the west (referencing the oppression by the British and the return to the more natural and untamed world of the west). This tale involves a mystical Selkie seal ancestor who gets captured when she sheds her skin, animals, a feral brother who lives on the island and the perseverance of his sister to be reunited with him. These two films and their posters are discussed more extensively elsewhere in this unit.

African Films

The film industry did not start in West Africa until the 1960s because the French did not allow them to make their own films before then. They are making approximately 50 films a year now and the filmmakers tend to be intellectuals who are making films for their own people.

The African films are quite different than films from other countries and they are made for different reasons. Kirikou and the Sorceress is a French animated traditional tale of origin whose posters successfully reflect the highly stylized designs, color, patterns and flavor of the film. The director's inspirations from the artist Rousseau and Egyptian art are reflected in the animation and posters. The Little Girl who Stole the Sun from Senegal is an allegory of Africa itself. Like the main character of the handicapped Sili, it implies that Africa is crippled but can take care of itself. It is a complicated tale that uses newspapers to reflect problems with control by the French government. Sili, the girl who can only sign her name as a sun symbol, succeeds as a scrappy seller of the Soliel (Sun) newspaper and emerges as a strong, dignified figure in the face of adversity.

Students should be alerted to look for the use of color in this film.

The complex Mali film Yeelen (The Light) will serve as an example of a radically different film that takes a lot of background knowledge to even begin to understand. The point of discussing this film is that it will raise the level of consciousness for my students who have been raised on uncomplicated Hollywood blockbusters. This traditional story of origin from around 1300 AD involves a spiritual and physical journey across Mali to the symbolic cliffs by the young hero who is being hunted by his evil father and uncle. It involves the importance of ancestral knowledge, families, secret societies and rites, and contains some extremely abstract elements. This story reaches back into the past for what has saved Africans. It symbolically can be projecting an eventual positive future for the enslaved Mali. The filmmaker purposefully used people who were not actors. Some of the visual images are poetically stunning.

Abouna, the Chad film that celebrates family, is also a journey film about two brothers who seek their father who has left them. It is full of gentle, subtle touches and surreal images. The filmmaker has carefully crafted exquisitely arranged scenes that could be paintings. Students will be forewarned to be aware of the use of color and composition. There is a story within a story and it deals with loss and growing up. It is also a fairy tale about the brothers being trapped in a Koranic school.

Keita, Heritage of the Griot, also uses the device of telling a story within a story via a griot, the oral storyteller who has had his craft handed down to him through the generations. The griot starts to teach the young boy about his heritage. The mother opposes this teaching and wants her son to concentrate on school. The griot tells part of Sundiata: an Epic Tale of Old Mali which deals with the origins of Mali. In that book the griot Mamadou Kouyate explains about griots, "...we are vessels of speech, we are the repositories which harbor secrets many centuries old... we are the memory of mankind; ..."15 Many of these West African films deal with keeping native traditions alive.

Japanese Films

The Family Game is a comedy satire that revolves around an underachieving son whose family hires a tutor for him so that he can gain admittance to a desirable high school. The discussion of this film will include the style, the use of geometry and lines, nature versus the industrial for a crowded island nation, the impact of a homogeneous population, and the jokes on the issue of personal space. Nobody Knows is a haunting fictional tale that was inspired by real events about the survival of the sweet children of a mother who has neglected and abandoned them.

Iranian Films

Iran has a rich and ancient artistic tradition that will I share with some examples of repeating patterns used in Persian tiles, rugs and textiles. As students watch the trailers, they can look for scenes containing artistic images and graphic designs. In general, Iranian films have a tremendous simplicity and are quite creative. Because of the culture, there is a lot of censorship so violence and sex are omitted. Women are veiled. Family life is portrayed similarly in some of these films. In Children of Heaven, The Apple, Where is the Friend's House? and The White Balloon, the families live in areas with high walls and small enclosed courtyards that look very similar and even clothes are washed in the same fashion. Children are expected to do homework first, study hard and obey their families. Life is very family-oriented.

The Color of Paradise is a touching tale that revolves around a blind boy who returns from a school for the blind into the unwelcome arms of his father. There are multiple beautiful scenes involving symbolic imagery with feathers, fog, sounds and lastly, hands when the boy is dead. The concepts of color and blindness can be explored.

Children of Heaven is a beautiful story about a brother and sister who have to share one pair of sneakers for school when the brother Ali looses Zahra's shoes. The brother feels that he can not tell the father who can not afford another pair. He enters a race so that he can win the third place prize of shoes but is stunned with disappointment when he wins first instead. This film explores the children's journey.

The Apple is a story of the dynamics of a family with a blind mother and elderly unemployed father. They keep their sheltered twin daughters locked in until a social worker demands freedom for them. A young girl wheedles money from her mother to buy a goldfish for the New Year in The White Balloon. The film follows her adventures with loosing and finally recovering the money.

The return of a notebook and friendship provide the plot for Where is the Friend's House? It also involves a journey/quest by the boy Ahmadpoor in the film. Underlying themes include a motif about handmade wooden doors being replaced by the metal doors (signifying change in Iran). The visual look and texture of the film are not surprising when one learns that the famed director, Abbas Kiarostami, was formerly an illustrator and graphic designer. The poster sums up the film quite well with a close-up photo of the charming son on the left with a large red question mark superimposed over a village scene on the right.

American Films

I will show trailers that will match the movie posters that I have collected. Some posters that I already have are Jaws, Corpse Bride, and Disney's re-release of Fantasia. Trailers of some of the films that are currently playing at the time that I present the unit will be shown. Included will be the newest Harry Potter film along with the previous five. All six trailers and the accompanying posters will be examined by the students to see if there is any change in tone as the series progresses through time and also through a change in directors. Representative examples of different genres will be shown.

Highlights in the History of Filmmaking and Movie Posters

There exists in man an innate desire to create. Author Fred E. Basten writes, "Communication has come a long way since the dawn of history. Not only have materials, methods, and styles changed, but people have changed. Yet the desired result is still the same: to show, to tell, to record, to illuminate through illustration. Through the years the artwork of the movies... has evolved into an art form all its own."16 Movie posters have evolved over the years, responding to developments in the film industry. Barton writes, "Movie posters offer a clear insight into the history and development of Hollywood as the film capital of the world. The posters, through their design, betray the ideas, attitudes and aspirations of American society throughout the 20th century."17 The same can be said for both poster art and visual art of any country. Basten writes, "By the eighties, promotional artwork had become collaborative, a potpourri consisting of a photo by one person, illustration by another, a logo and copy lines by still others."18 He added about the art of the nineties, "The creative process has become more collaborative than ever and, because of digital technology, more confusing."19

That is a far cry from the humble beginnings of advertising for the entertainment industry. Basten writes, "The artwork of the movies was yet to come when Thomas Alva Edison shot the first successful motion picture film in 1889."20 Edison invented film viewing machines called Kinetoscopes which would be watched by increasing numbers of patrons in peep shows. Soon after, technology existed to project films onto screens so that patrons could cram into those first theatre houses to watch them together. The French Lumiere brothers are considered by many (particularly the French) to be the fathers of world cinema with the showing of their films in 1895.

As competition grew between live entertainment venues and films, so did the realization that additional and improved advertising was necessary. Black and white handbills, posters using line art (from black India ink line drawings), window cards and posters were often created by individual non-credited artists. Newspaper ads were used. Wood engravings and printing presses were among the copying methods used. The advent of the process of lithography opened up a whole new vista of printing possibilities. "The earliest attempts at motion picture advertising art were crude by artistic standards, often featuring poorly reproduced halftone photographs. Line art was more successful, offering a sharper, cleaner image and permitting more flexibility in design. The trend to line art lasted well into the twenties. In an effort to be stylish, due in part to a dearth of available decorative typefaces, most headlines were hand lettered."21

Successful magazine illustrators were enticed into the field of movie poster design. Illustrator Aubrey Beardsley's exotic elongated figures, often depicted with his trademark peacock tails, lived on in others' poster art even after his death in 1898. Coles Phillips became famous with his innovative series of the "Fadeaway Girl,"22 illustrations that featured an attractive girl who blended into a dark background. This technique was used in many advertisements and parallels the artistic technique of using "lost and found edges" and the Italian "chiaroscuro" shading technique.

At the end of the 1920s, radio and the addition of sound challenged film companies. "Studio art departments worked overtime to create not only compelling advertising but a quality image for their releases. Headlines became stronger, design concepts more refined, copy messages more analytical. Improvements in printing techniques that permitted better reproduction of blackñand-white photographs led to the partial or even total replacement of pen-and-ink drawings by well-defined halftones of stars and scenes.nes."23 Most poster artists still did not see their work credited in print. Color gradually entered the filmmaking scene and "By the end of the thirties, the studio illustrators and graphic artists were experimenting with overlays and reverse printing techniques, bringing a new excitement and dimension to the work."24

In the 1950s, that sensational creation TV immerged as competition for film audiences. Since TV had limited fare in black and white, films tried to retain their audiences by capitalizing the use of adult themes that were censored on TV and "Technicolor" and other new processes. Tony Nourmand writes, "This exploitation of technical novelty was echoed in the work of the artists who had to devise the posters that would lure the audiences back into the movie houses. Illustrators like Saul Bass in America..., Jan Lenica in Poland..., and Raymond Gid in France created striking, often abstract, graphics which sought to promote a film by capturing its mood and message rather than simply depicting its stars."25

In the 1960s, photography was incorporated into movie poster design even more. "Other changes included advances in techniques and materials, such as air brushing, mezzo tinting and double printing. Because advertising art of the sixties truly blended the best of all print media techniques, it was a significant force in keeping Hollywood's light burning."26 In the 1970s, TV was utilized for its ability to instantly reach audiences. Viewers were tantalized with trailers or previews for upcoming films. Newspapers carried the times and locations for showings. The movie posters in the lobbies enticed viewers in and beckoned them to return for upcoming films. "A continuing trend toward big-budget "event" films, with emphasis on erotic thrillers, action, and special effects, was reflected in advertising campaigns that were more competitive and direct in content."27 That holds true through the present as artists and designers utilize an arsenal of creative tools that range from pens and airbrushes to astounding computer wizardry.

Mike Salisbury gives insight into the creative development process with, "A motion picture has no shelf life. If nobody comes to see it the first day it's on the market, the party is over...Waterworld cost $200,000,000 to make. Prints, promotion, and advertising could use up another $100,000,000....You as a designer have just been asked by these nervous folks to create an icon which will convince at least 50,000,000 people to buy this product-that's about $300,000,000 in ticket sales which is about what Jurassic Park made. To start, at least 100 concepts from you and other designers will be revealed at a first stage presentation to the marketing department of the studio. Your idea will journey to at least six more meetings and could be revised... at any stop along through the kingdoms of motion picture advertising, management, production, and actors with the powers of approval."28 All of this is before it even gets to the next stage. Like films, posters are now such collaborative efforts that many hands may touch it on its journey and one artist may create the key art or main image, another may do the title and others will create other parts.

Salisbury also writes on the composition of a movie poster, "Movie consumers make sure that every poster has the copy line at the top, the title two thirds of the way down the poster, with legal credits of the people involved in the marketing and distributing the epic at the bottom."29 The students can examine successful posters to see if that holds true.


After a brief introduction to the unit, I will explain the reasons that foreign films are such an integral part of this unit and my expectations that all of my students will try to be culturally sensitive before making any remarks in class. I will also explain that as the unit progresses, we will be developing an understanding of narratology, the storytelling traditions from other cultures, and how to analyze posters and films using film and art terminology. Students will then watch Into the West while eating popcorn that will add to the theater atmosphere. Most of the film will be watched the first day. Following the conclusion of the film the next class period, students will be broken up into small groups of no more than 4 to discuss the types of narratives that exist. Each group will select a writer and a spokesman. The teams will give examples that will be written on the board until all have been given and the differences discussed. Included will be myths, novels and short stories, folk tales, fairy tales, fables, legends, epics, romances (of the medieval type), satires, comics books, graphic novels and Manga. These all share an interlocking series of events as told by a storyteller (the narrator). Discussion about Into the West will be initiated by asking students what type of narrative they consider the film to be, providing examples or clues from the film. Stasis will be discussed and they will be asked what event changes the equilibrium of the story (the mother's death). After the introduction of the term hinge function, students can provide film examples of actions that hinge or depend on the last for development. More terms will evolve naturally out of the discussion of the film.

After the discussion of the film Into the West, small groups will be formed again and the students will list the functions for movie posters. The students can use the displayed posters for reference. The responses will be put on the board. Then this exercise will be repeated to determine the purposes of movie trailers or previews. Students will then compare the two lists for commonalities and differences which can be put on the board in a Venn diagram (two ovals of traits of each that list the similarities in the overlapped section). After reviewing the elements of art and principles of design to analyze a movie poster hung in the room, I will show the movie posters for Into the West. Students, using appropriate art vocabulary, will discuss how successful each poster is in its mission to seduce viewers. Those qualities will be discussed and written on the board. After watching the trailer for Into the West, we will discuss if the trailer portrays the film accurately, the tone or style of the film, and if the viewer can determine its narrative style and genre just from its viewing.

The trailer for The Secret of Roan Inish and the posters for it will be shown and analyzed. For each poster shown, students can hold up a red, yellow or green card indicating their degree of acceptance of each. In the discussion of previews and posters, the relation of stillness and movement can be explored. From early on in the unit, the discussions of films and posters will be intertwined and students will be urged to concentrate on the elements of the story.

The power point that highlights the evolution of movie posters will be shown. Included will be various styles of posters for the same film created for openings in different countries. Shrek was released in over of 50 countries and it will be interesting to compare and contrast some of its posters. Even though we can not read most of them, the balance of graphics and animated character images in the compositions should generate some lively conversations. The posters from Poland will be highlighted, as will as the Soviet examples because of their striking graphic traditions. The impact of Disney Studios and Mickey Mouse's evolution of drawing styles will be examined also.

The students will see a Hollywood version of completing a trailer when shown the scene from The Holiday in which Cameron Diaz's character edits a trailer that her company is designing for a Christmas opening. She comments about changing the title to a happy red versus a Martin Scorsese (blood) red30 and that can lead into a discussion involving color symbolism.

After discussion about different genres, trailers representing various genres will be shown. Students will match the trailers and the genres. Trailers will be shown for westerns, comedies, musicals, mysteries, horror films, action films, romances, and others. They can then analyze the details of the trailers to learn more about each genre. Posters can be shown of each and discussed. Exit cards can be used at the end of class to keep the students focused.

Foreign film trailers and their accompanying posters from Japan, China, Africa, Iran and the United States will be viewed and discussed, one country at a time. The storytelling traditions of each country will be explored, from the griots who preserve the oral storytelling traditions and history in Africa to the Irish travelers who tell stories around a campfire. In small groups, students will discover differences and commonalities between the films of each country, and at the end, they will compare the films from all the countries discussed.

Hollywood film trailers will also be explored. Finding the more recent trailers on the internet is easy. The Harry Potter film trailers and posters will be shown in order and students will answer questions about any tone and style changes that the series undertakes as the content of the books and subsequently the films become darker. Does having a new director change the looks of the films and trailers? The trailers and posters for Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride will also be examined for tone and compared to the Harry Potter series. Cool, brooding blues are used in Tim Burton's creations and in the Harry Potter series for a chilling effect.

After the discussion on poster terminology, a short quiz will be given. A quiz will also follow the discussion of film terms. Students will have a couple of homework assignments. The first will be the students' written description of a film scene that has had an indelible impact on them. It can be an iconic cinematic film moment or one that is very personal and not common with others' experiences. They will also have the choice of researching and writing about an artist who has worked in the medium of posters and/or worked creating movie posters, or a distinct period of national styles that has affected the development of poster art. For extra credit, students can bring in recommendations for foreign films trailers that we can watch in class. If their families are from another country, they may have some great suggestions or favorites'

Different media and techniques will be explored after students see my demonstrations using colored pencils, watercolors and acrylics. Students will select a single letter like a T or an S and a magazine photo of an interesting human eye. After each demonstration, they will draw a human eye and a letter on two separate 3" x 3" pieces of drawing paper using the medium that was just shown. These drawings will be discussed along with the advantages and disadvantages of each medium used.

Students will make a list of films for which they would like to create a poster. After some research, they will narrow that down to their final choice. A minimum of ten thumbnail sketches or ideas for their posters will be created by each student. Two of them must be of abstract ideas and one of two key moments from the film that they have selected. The students will develop their best thumbnail or combination of thumbnails into their poster design, working out the details of composition and placement of graphics. They need to carefully choose words that have punch and should ideally be representative of the film.

Using everything that they have learned, students will create their individual final posters. They will sign a "contract" supposedly from a film studio or independent producer. The progress and visual look of the posters will be critiqued by the class after the posters have been sketched out and also at completion. The students will also critique their own posters using a self reflection sheet. Invitations that feature selected student poster designs will invite everyone to view the finished posters on display in an art show in the school library. Next to each poster will be an accompanying film synopsis that the artists will have written. After the culminating activity of the art show, students will fill out an evaluation of the whole unit. The following are three lesson plans that have been developed from the preceding activities.

Lesson Plan 1: Ten Thumbnail Sketches for the Poster

The objective of this lesson is for students to plan, design, and execute multiple solutions to the challenge of creating a movie poster. They must select and apply their knowledge of the elements of art and principles of design to communicate the intended message of the poster. In preparation for this lesson, students are supposed to bring in a list of possible films along with the film's taglines and the key scene or one moment in the story that graphically communicates the feeling of the whole story. They should also have an alternant important moment so that one of the thumbnails will include both images combined effectively. They will be encouraged to write their own taglines. This homework will have been assigned at the beginning of the unit so that they will have had adequate time to reflect on possibilities. After narrowing their film lists down to one choice, they will then draw a minimum of 10 thumbnail sketches. Two of the sketches must contain simplified but effective abstract images. One must contain the images from the two key moments. Students can refer to the posters on the walls and the wealth of examples in my power point presentation.

This is a one-period exercise but the thumbnails can be taken home for completion. The students will be told that their sketches will be hung up and individually discussed by the entire class the next class period. Students will then work on sketches for the final design which may or may not incorporate elements from multiple sketches.

Materials will include library film books for students who did not come prepared with a list along with the laptop for researching taglines and posters, sketching paper, pencils, erasers, colored pencils, and markers.

Lesson Plan 2: Demonstration of and Experimentation with Different Media and Techniques

In this lesson, the objective will be to increase the students' understanding of the use of colored pencils, watercolors and acrylic paints first by watching demonstrations given by me and then by experimentation with each medium and associated techniques. When they are ready to work on their final poster designs, they will use this knowledge to select the media, materials and techniques that will best enhance their posters and choose the one(s) that they feel they can best manipulate for successful results. This lesson should take at least three class periods (1 ½ hours blocks).

One the first day, using Prismacolors (a brand of colored pencils of exception quality), I will demonstrate a variety of colored pencil techniques that will include using different pencil pressures, layering colors in different sequences, Prismacolor blenders, and color mixing theory. I will demonstrate on a human eye that I have drawn lightly (making erasing easier) in graphite pencil and on the letter A. Examples of art rendered in colored pencils will be shown. The criteria for grading will be discussed for all three sets of squares. Each will be worth a possible 20 points. To receive full credit, each drawing must be signed and completed in the assigned medium, show minimal pencil sketch marks, and be a serious attempt to draw and color them well. After all questions have been answered, students will start on their mini-drawings. Each student will sketch separately an eye from magazine photos and a letter of their own choice on two pieces of 33" x 3" white sulphite drawing paper. This letter can be traced or hand drawn each time. I have selected this small paper format because I want the students to explore three different media but in a limited time period. The students will then explore colored pencils as they render their drawings. I will hang the signed squares on the board. Students who have not finished can check out Crayola pencils to finish their drawings at home. Because of their price, our Prismacolors are not allowed out of the room.

On the second day, we will take a quick look at the drawings from the previous class and review colored pencils as a medium. Then I will demonstrate the mysteries of watercolors using flat and graded washes, frisket (for temporarily masking an area to be left dry), dry brush techniques, tilting the wet surface to manipulate running colors, layered colors, and salt for the creation of crystal effects. Discussion will include selection of brushes and papers that will best match each chosen medium. After examples of acrylic paintings have been shown and questions have been answered, students will draw lightly in pencil a human eye and a letter on two separate 3" x 3" squares of watercolor paper. Using any of the techniques that they have learned, they will then paint them using watercolors. As the students finish, they will hang their letters and eyes next to the ones that they drew in the precious class.

Techniques using acrylics will be demonstrated on the third day. Students can observe the hanging drawings from the two previous classes as they enter the room. Acrylics are traditionally used from the tubes to mirror the richness of oil paints but they can be also be thinned with water to look like watercolors or for use as transparent layers of color. I will show them how to blend acrylics, use the hard edge method of painting to capture crisp lines, and use the fast drying characteristics of this medium to their benefit.

Finished pieces using acrylics plus mixed media (more than one medium used on the same piece) and cut paper techniques will be shown. Some methods of printmaking will have been explored in the prerequisite 2D class and students may create their posters using printmaking techniques. The class as a whole will discuss the merits and disadvantages of using each medium. Because I am presenting this unit to upper level classes, a lot of this material will be review and not new material.

Materials will include but not be limited to pencils, erasers, sharpeners, sandpaper, X-acto knives, masking tape, rulers, Prismacolor colored pencils and blenders, Crayola colored pencils, watercolors, water, containers for water, frisket or Maskoid, salt, acrylics, brushes, magazine pictures of human eyes, and a variety of papers..

Lesson Plan 3: The Creation of the Movie Poster

The objective of this lesson is for the students to each create their own film posters. This will be approached as a "real world" assignment or job. They will be "hired" as a free-lance or an on-staff studio artist/designer for either a studio or independent producer. They may select any appropriate film from any genre (excluding pornography). If you teach this unit, you must decide if your students will be allowed to depict R rated films. The students will sign a contract. To create their posters, the students will draw upon everything that they have learned throughout this unit. They will use the best idea that they have developed from their thumbnail sketches from a previous lesson. They will make their media selections from their explorations from previous lessons, selecting the materials and media that they can best manipulate and that will allow them to effectively portray their designs.

The smallest acceptable size will be 8 ½" x 11" so that students who have the skills and access to a computer can print off their computer-generated posters on a standard size of paper. Actual scenes from their selected films along with computer graphics may be used. For hand-drawn posters, students can use 8 ½ ½" x 11" or work on paper up to 18" x 24." They can hand-draw the letters or use fronts printed from the computer or elsewhere as inspiration or to trace.

Materials for students to use will include but not be limited to pencils, charcoal, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, T-squares, triangles, Prismacolor colored pencils, Prismacolor blenders, watercolors, salt, X-Acto knives, acrylics, India ink, pens, transfer letters, tracing paper, white sulphite drawing paper, and other assorted papers. .

For clear expectations, the grading criteria will be discussed and the rubric will be hung up in the classroom. Included on it will be the effective use of composition, graphics including the title and possible tagline, key art, the elements of art, the principles of design, symbolism, class time, and the safe, non-wasteful use of materials (including clean-up). Also addressed will be the effectiveness of the poster and how well it captures the essence of the film that it represents. Does the viewer want to see the film after seeing the poster? Does the style of the lettering match the tone of film? ?


1. Dudley Andrew. Yale National Initiative seminar Storytelling around the World, 2009.

2. Tony Nourman and Graham Marsh, in Film posters of the 60s- the Essential Movies of the Decade, 4..

3. Miles D. Barton, in Hollywood Movie Posters 1914-1990,, 4.

4. Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh, in Film posters of the 60s- the Essential Movies of the Decade, 44.

5. College Board, CollegeBoard AP 2006-07 AP Studio Art Posterr. (USA, 2007), back.

6. Laura H. Chapman, in A World of Images, 293.

7. Laura H. Chapman, in A World of Images, 299.

8. Miles D. Barton, in Hollywood Movie Posters 1914-1990, 219.

9. Miles D. Barton, in Hollywood Movie Posters 1914-1990,, 220.

10. Miles D. Barton, in Hollywood Movie Posters 1914-1990, 220.

11. Miles D. Barton, in Hollywood Movie Posters 1914-1990, 219..

12. Carol M. Santa et all, in. CRISS- Creating Independence through Students-owneded

13. Strategies, 34.

14. Jim Fanning, in The Disney Poster—The Animated Film Classics from Mickey Mouse to Aladdin, 15.

15. Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh, editors, in Horror Poster Art, 172.

16. D.T. Niana, in Sundiata: an Epic of Old Mali, 1.

17. Fred E. Basten, in The Lost Artwork of Hollywood, 16.

18. Miles D. Barton, in Hollywood Movie posters1914-1990,, 4.

19. Fred E. Basten, in The Lost Art of Hollywood, 170.

20. Fred E. Basten, in The Lost Art of Hollywood, 171.

21. Fred E. Basten, in The Lost Art of Hollywood, 16.

22. Fred E. Basten, in The Lost Art of Hollywood, 22.

23. Fred E. Basten, in The Lost Art of Hollywood, 29.

24. Fred E. Basten, in The Lost Art of Hollywood, 45.

25. Fred E. Basten, in The Lost Art of Hollywood, 48.

26. Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh, in Film Posters of the 50s- the Essential Moviess

27. of the Decade, 3.

28. Fred E. Basten, in The Lost Art of Hollywood, 167.

29. Fred E. Basten, in The Lost Art of Hollywood, 169.

30. Mike Salisbury, in Great Movie Graphics, 5.

31. Mike Salisbury. In Great Movie Graphics, 5.

32. "Big Hit." The Holiday, DVD. Directed by Nancy Meyers. Universal/Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, 2007.

Bibliography for Teachers

Barton, Miles D. Hollywood Movie Posters 1914-19900. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer

Publishing Company, 2004. Not only does this book contain great examples, but it

also has a collector's guide/glossary in the back that explains poster sizes, buying,

conditions such as mint, and preservation. It is also a price guide so it includes a

range of selling prices for the posters. The price range listed for the 1925 Phantom of

the Opera one-sheet poster is an astounding $40,000 to 60,000.

Basten, Fred E. The Lost Artwork of Hollywood. New York: Watson-Guptill, 1996. This

volume details the history of posters in the United States and gives a fairly

comprehensive synopsis of each illustrator at the end of the book.

Children of Heaven, DVD. Directed by Majid Majidi, 1997, Iran: Miramax Films.

Children of Heaven trailer. (accessed 27 7

July 2009).

Children of Heaven posters. -

heaven/5170/main. (accessed 27 July 2009). Good poster of sister with a bubble.

Children of Heaven posters. (accessed 27 July

2009). It has a poster that features a goldfish with a blue sky background.

Color of Paradise, DVD. Directed by Majid Majidi,Sony Pictures Classics, 1999.

Color of Paradise trailer.

(accessed 27 July 2009). This site has a trailer and poster.

Color of Paradise posters. (accessed

27 July 2009). Sony's site contains a beautiful image of the father and son characters

as a background screen and has posters plus images from the film.

Constantine, Mildred, and Alan Fern. Revolutionary Soviet Film Posters. Baltimore and

London: the John Hopkins Press, 1974. These striking avant-garde styles

predominantly from the 1920s are like no others.

The Family Game (Kazoku Game), DVD. Directed by Yoshimitsu Morita, 1983, Japan:

New Century Producers, Art Theatre Guild of Japan, Nikkatsu Corporation.

Fanning, Jim, text writer. The Disney Poster- The Animated Film Classics from Mickey

Mouse to Aladdin. New York: Hyperion, 1993. This compilation of Disney animated

films and shorts concentrates more on the older classics.

The Holiday, DVD. Directed by Nancy Meyers, 2006. Universal/Columbia pictures,

Sony Pictures, 2006.

Hopkins, John. Shrek- From the Swamp to the Screen.. New York: Harry N. Abrams,

Inc., Publishers, 2004. This exquisite and colorful book shows mainly stills/scenes

from the film but it does include a page with an interesting sampling of four posters

in different languages and styles from the 51 countries in which Shrek was released.

Into the West, VHS. Directed by Mike Newell. 1993, Ireland: Production Company et al,

Walt Disney Video, 2001.

Into the West trailer, (accessed

27 July 2009).

Into the West movie posters.

(accessed 27 July 2009).

Into the West movie posters. (accessed 27 July 2009).

Keita, DVD. Directed by Dani Kouyate, Affix Productions.

The King of Masks, DVD. Directed by Wu Tianming, 1996, China: Shaw Brothers,

Samual Goldwyn Films, 1999.

The King of Masks trailers.

Masks/trailers. (accessed 27 July 2009).

The King of Masks posters. (accessed 27 July 2009).

This site contains 11 posters and images.

Kirikou and the Sorceress, 1998. Directed by Michael Ocelot, France: Les Armateurs.

Kirikou and the Sorceress posters.

Nobody Knows (Vare Mo Shiranai or Daremo Shiranai). Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda,

2004, Japan: IFC Films.

Nobody Knows trailer. knows. (accessed 27

July 2009).

Nobody Knows posters. (accessed 27 July


Nourman, Tony and Graham Marsh, editors. Film Posters of the 50s- the Essential

Movies of the Decade. Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press, 2001. This

volume contains excellent iconic images from different countries.

Nourman, Tony, and Graham Marsh, editors. Film Posters of the 60s- the Essentiall

Movies of the decade. Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press, 1998. This is laid

out the same way as the one above. This is a good source.

Nourmand, Tony and Graham Marsh, editors. Horror Poster Art. London: Aurum Press

Limited, 2004. This is a good source for poster styles from different countries of the

same film and it contains great examples coupled with interesting remarks about each.

Salisbury, Mike, introduction writer. Great Movie Graphics. Rockport, Massachusetts:

Rockport Publishers, 1995. The included modern examples are accompanied by

explanations of what type of computer programs like Adobe Photoshop were used.

Santa, Carol al. Project CRISS- Creating Independence Through Student-owneded

Strategies. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1996. This is the

place to go if you are looking for current teaching strategies that work.

The Secret of Roan Inish, DVD. Directed by John Sayers, 1994, Ireland: Skerry Movies

Corporation, Culver City, CA: Sony Home Pictures, 2006.

The Secret of Roan Inish trailer.

Inish/overview. (assessed 27 July 2009).

The Secret of Roan Inish trailer.

(accessed 27 July 2009).

The Secret of Roan Inish posters. (accessed 27 July 2009).

Where is the Friend's House, VHS. Directed by Abbas Kiarostami, 1986, Iran: Firouzan


Where is the Friend's House posters. (accessed 27 July 2009).'sHome/index.html/.

The White Ballon, DVD. Directed by Jafar Panahi, 1995, Iran: October Films.

The White Balloon trailer.


(accessed 27 July 2009).

Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, Virginia:

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005. Also known as

UbD, this is a model for writing curriculum that has been embraced by many schools.

Reading List for Students

Students will be able to read sections of Laura Chapman's A World of Images and Fred E. Basten's The Lost Artwork of Hollywood (see bibliography).

Materials for Classroom Use

Movie posters, posters of the elements of art and principles of design, and library poster books will be in the classroom. A variety of appropriate art supplies, materials, and tools will be available for student use. These will include a variety of papers, drawing boards, watercolors, acrylic paints, brushers, inks, handles and nibs, rulers, triangles, T-squares, pencils, markers, erasers, pencil sharpeners, and scissors.

Delaware Sate Art Standards and their Implementation

Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques and processes.

Applying what they have learned, students will be able to select appropriate materials and use the proper techniques and processes necessary to turn their thumbnail sketches into movie posters.

Standard 2: Using knowledge of structures and functions:

The students will apply their knowledge of the principles of design and elements of art to effectively convey ideas in their posters.

Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas.

After careful exploration and evaluation, students will choose images, symbols, graphics, and ideas to convey the meaning of their movie posters.

Standard 4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and culture.

After studying storytelling and graphic art traditions in the context of the cultures from which they originate, students will better understand these traditions from other counties and our own. They can then incorporate these understandings into their poster designs.

Standard 5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others.

The students will reflect upon, analyze, assess and evaluate a film, film trailers, famous movie posters and their own progress and that of their peers during the poster design process and upon completion of the posters.

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