DIRECTOR Erik Sharkey WRITER Greg Boas; Charles Ricciardi; Erik Sharkey; Jeff Yorkes STARS Drew Struzan; Harrison Ford; Michael J. Fox SCREENING Today at 13.15
You may not be familiar with the name, but Drew Struzan is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in the last 40 years of Hollywood. His incredible artwork has enhanced and promoted a string of iconic motion pictures, from Star Wars to Back to the Future to Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Struzan operates from a time when poster art sold a film, before the Internet and the vital marketing machine gave every detail of plot and effect before release, and his work inspired a generation of filmmakers and fans.
The fact that Erik Sharkey’s documentary interviews a string of A-listers — George Lucas; Steven Spielberg; Harrison Ford; Frank Darabont — proves Struzan’s standing. Lucas, notoriously cranky, credits much of Star Wars’ early success to his art; a legion of young filmgoers stood outside the theatre and imagined the outer-space delights teased by the imagery. Much of the mystique of Indiana Jones comes from Struzan, in a series of legendary posters that builds the character as much as Harrison Ford’s performance — Ford admits as much, and personally thanks Struzan for making him look good. And Darabont is such an admirer that not only did he commission Struzan for the poster for The Mist, but based the lead character played by Thomas Jane on the man himself.
Struzan in interview is quiet and likeable, relating stories of a lonely childhood and living in poverty as a struggling artist in LA, meeting wife and muse Dylan, and working in virtual anonymity while producing some of the best album covers of the 70s (Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath are both his) before recognition started to happen.
Watching him work is nothing short of amazing as he creates oil and airbrushed masterpieces of films that have entered popular culture, and he reveals that often he had very little time and concept with which to complete work. His poster for John Carpenter’s The Thing was done overnight, with the only instruction being: “We’re remaking the old 50s B-movie — come up with something.” That Struzan created one of the most recognisable one sheets in horror movie history proves an imagination as deep as the great directors he has worked for. Drew: The Man Behind The Poster is a fascinating insight into an often overlooked area of the movie industry, and the man has earned all the praise that this excellent documentary offers him.