Shameless Shame Posters

We saw Steve McQueen’s movie Shame because of the poster above, on the left. We found it intriguing and remarkably quiet: the kind of poster which suggests things rather than yells at you. It has gloomy yet tasteful colors and impressive typography without unnecessary frills: just white Futura, smaller than it might be and more arresting for that. We weren’t alone in our appreciation because the poster has been cropping up on lists of best movie posters for 2011.

Then we saw the movie (and didn’t like it at all but that’s beside the point) and the posters it was advertized with in Poland – and we were so disappointed at how completely they lost the quality of the original poster. So out of curiosity we researched other versions and today show you our finds. We used more sites for research, but actually found everything on this site here. Now we’re going to ruin the ending: none of the posters tops the original one. Even the one next to it above (a Canadian, French-language version), which is mostly the same with a more tightly cropped frame, seems weaker because of bigger letters.

French and Italian versions retain more or less the same logotype, and good thing they do (though Italian one uses some sort of difference blending on letters and it seems completely unnecessary) and keep the sheets, though they’ve gotten more blue, but embellish the poster with Michael Fassbender. Much as we like him, this does not serve the poster as it becomes more literal. However, some of the despair of the movie is kept.

The Swedish version above serves as basis for the already mentioned Polish posters. It only keeps the logotype and replaces blue sheets with two photographs of the characters. We get the theory of how this shows their incapability of communication, blah blah, but it just doesn’t look good and the color scheme doesn’t work at all. For the Polish designer apparently the arrangement of the two photos wasn’t interesting enough so s/he made one of them big and one tiny in the corner (see? it’s there, above the title to the left). It beats me why, completely. Also, Futura gets replaced with Gotham, which is pointless. These posters functioned as a pair so depending where you happened to be you’d only see one or the other (which arguably made the idea even more incomprehensible).

The previous posters already lost some ambiguity but it’s in the collection above (Turkish, Spanish, Italian again and a blueray box) that literal representation triumphs and all creativeness is replaced with a mosaic of frames from the movie, dominated by him, her, threesome and running (true, there’s little more in the movie). It’s particularly sad that they chose this approach for the box instead of going with the original poster.

Some creators chose a different metaphor: the one of glass which builds the modern cities the characters inhabit and also separates people (posters are Japanese and British). While hardly an original metaphor and not as strong as the dishevelled sheets, we appreciate the attempt.

And speaking of glassy surfaces, Australian campaign replaced all imagery with a mirror-like surface so it’s the viewer labeled with Shame. While we resent the idea behind it that we’re all sex addicts, we appreciate the smartness and effectiveness of the campaign. Also, when logotype is all that’s left it proves how well it works (because Futura is the most beautiful typeface ever, of course).

Finally, the controversial Hungarian campaign which introduced completely new imagery, that of naked skin and evocations of sex (and replaced Futura with DIN; because they also chose to translate the title it looks like a different movie altogether). We actually appreciate that they thought about slightly less obvious solutions (the word subtle doesn’t exactly fit) even if the cum-text seems like fishing for controversy (banning the poster, as we think happened, is too extreme a reaction though). We only wonder if these posters jump out enough to people from a crowded poster pole or wall.

Also, we realize many people found this movie deep and significant and we even understand why: that it didn’t work for us is not particularly relevant here because we still find its visual identity (mostly the original one) strong and memorable.


P.S. Twisted Sisters Design nominated us for Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you very much! There are requirements involved which we didn’t have time to fulfil yet (as this week has been very busy work-wise) but we hope to do so next week.

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