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Vertiginous pleasures

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posted on 24.05.2021, 09:30 by David Kerr
In the opening lines to his unique collection of cinematic art, Italian Movie Posters, Dave Kehr reminds us that "in the final analysis, movie posters are advertisements-in other words, promises made to be broken. But what glorious promises they make" (9)1 In large part this text is dedicated to exploring these very promises, not so much to celebrate the grandeur and bombast of the film poster but to understand the complex processes of interaction that exist between a film, its posters, and their audiences. Of course, the promises that Kehr is referring to are the more or less straightforward ones posters make when they implicitly offer us the chance at experiencing the films they promote as glamorous, adventurous, terrifying, and seductive. In this respect, film posters, like all forms of advertising, seek to create audiences by attaching a fixed social identity to a product that is by its nature polysemic, representing too many things to too many people to be completely represented by any single combination of text and image. Unlike most consumer products however, films are ephemeral in nature, disappearing from view the minute they have been consumed, and like dreams they are only half-remembered by those who have consumed them. Consequently, the relationship between the film and its poster is not quite the same as the relationship between a tangible consumer product and the advertising imagery that sells it. The intangibility of films, in that they are seen only temporarily in the dark and quiet confines of the theatre and our living rooms, make them especially in need of a body, a corporeal vehicle with which they can circulate in the world. In a consumerist culture such as ours, where social relations are structured through the fetishization of commodities, ephemeral products such as films leave consumers needing a tangible emblem, either because they crave owning a piece of what they love or simply to see for themselves whether or not a film is in fact "my kind of movie."



Master of Arts


Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type