I personally have gone through a love/hate relationship with this design trend. When I first saw the beginnings of it, I thought it might just go the way of Chuck Anderson light streaks; very cool for a few images but also very "of the time", in a way. However, the more they popped up and the more popularity they gained with designers and illustrators alike, the idea became much more complex and rewarding. These images were meant to convey love for the movies they represented, but beyond the simplicity, they are intrinsically complicated views into the perceptions of the artists restating the raw emotion they felt from them.
Each poster is a tribute and not commercial in the slightest. As most of the films are 2-3 years old at the youngest, they are well beyond the stage of mainstream relevancy. The freedom of a contemporary editorialist standpoint allows each artist to focus on only a few aspects to glorify; a gun, a character's neck-tie, a space ship, whatever it is that first comes to mind and suggests the entire story. That one aspect, rendered abstractly and simply, leaves it to even further interpretation for the viewer. What we have is a relationship between the preceptor, the percepted and the witness, who becomes a preceptor themselves.
Of course all of this has nothing to do with the vast range of styles that CAN be applied to this style of perception. For a long time I felt that there was a “wrong” way and “right” way of creating these images. The first example that comes to mind is the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off image by Mark Wesler. My initial reaction was to shoot it down for it’s obviously misplaced use of Saul Bass-inspired aesthetics, which are much more psychologically-ambiguous and disturbing than should be applied to what breaks down as an 80’s teen comedy. In fact the two have so little to do with each other, the title could easily also be “Running Man”, with credits to Arnold Schwarzenegger at the top, or “Enemy of the State”, as a Tony Scott film.
Yet what I see here is another way to see a story. A story “known” by millions. This is the equivalent to giving C-3PO an urban voice. We know what the intention of the filmmakers may have been, but we can translate it any way we want in our minds. Is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off a simple 80’s comedy, or a struggle to outrun oppression and servitude to a bureaucratic and hippocratic society? I’d say either side is a valid argument, and one I would have never otherwise thought of before this image. As abstract and odd as it may have seemed at first, it eventually became something I can understand on a more provocative level.
Similar to dreams, these simple yet complex images are deeply meaningful. As a collection of work from artists all over the world, they are an excellent survey of a creative consciousness from all walks of life. Every work represents the artist but every style represents their sensibilities, and for that this is a trend I hope continues and expands. After all if we didn’t have insinuation, we’d never have inspiration.
These and many other works of minimalism can be found on the constantly updated Tumblr page Minimal Movie Posters.