Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ode to an Ad: "The Silence of the Lambs" Poster

After looking at this poster, you're probably confused and disturbed. That's the effect it goes for, and it achieves it with flying colors. It might not tell you anything about the movie, but it does leave you feeling as if you just got some horrible news about a loved one.

This poster asks a lot of questions: Who is this woman? Why is she so pale? What is she staring at? And most importantly, why is there a freaking moth where her mouth should be?

The image has little to do with the film. The movie DOES feature moths. And the mouthless image conjures the idea of "silence." But that's it. It's all conceptual, based on making you feel a certain way instead of telling you anything about the movie.

What you might not have noticed (and probably can't see in this particular picture) is that the "skull" image on the moth is actually made up of a bundle of naked women. Perhaps one of the only instances in history where a group of naked women have made something creepier instead of sexier.


While you may not have known it, it should still come as no surprise that the inspiration for the poster was Salvador Dali. After all, he's basically the king of images that are breathtaking, confusing, and unnerving all at the same time.

The "skull" image on the moth is actually a minaturized version of the above Dali portrait, In Voluptas Mors. Somehow it gets even creepier once it's shrunk down.

Though moths are featured in the film, its use on the poster is most likely a reference to images in Luis Bunuel's and Salvador Dali's surrealist film Un chien andalou, which is most famous (or infamous, really) for the scene where a razorblade cuts open a woman's eyeball. (Second would be the scene where ants come out of a man's hand.)

It was a totally natural fit for the creepy, disturbing content of The Silence of the Lambs to be advertised in the vein of Dali and his love of bizarre creations that make you feel weird inside.


I wasn't a fan of The Descent as a film, but I have to admit that this poster is extremely intriguing. To be fair, it's a straight-up reproduction of the Dali portrait with no real ties to The Silence of the Lambs, but I think we all know that they would have never thought to do this without that poster's existence.

In particular, I like what they did with the face of the one woman that we can see. In the Dali portrait, her mouth and eyes are closed in a feeling of contentment. In the above poster, it's a scream of pure terror.

There's also the idea that something is lurking just out of view, in the shadows on the corners of the poster. But you'll have to see the movie to find out what.


When I first saw this poster I laughed to myself, but that laughter immediately became uncomfortable laughter because there's something profoundly disturbing about this image. I've since decided that it's somehow simultaneously completely idiotic and chilling to the bone.

Clearly this was borrowing heavily from The Silence of the Lambs poster. At first glance it seems normal enough, but after a moment you realize that what you're seeing isn't actually what you're seeing.

I haven't seen this film, but I still feel confident enough to say that I'd rather stare at The Silence of the Lambs poster for an hour and a half than watch One Missed Call.


David said...

More of these please!!!! I could suggest some great posters over the years. Some of the best posters are for awful or at least mediocre movies (Spider-man 2 comes to mind). Also would be interesting to see your thoughts on trailers. For instance, the trailer for "Rent" gave Rentheads everything they wanted, was beautifully edited, and almost better than the film. In another life I want to cut trailers.

Jonathan K said...

Yeah, I definitely plan to continue this series as there are a lot of posters/trailers that I really love.

Feel free to share some of your favorites with me.