Drew: The Man Behind The Poster (2013)
Directed by Erik Sharkey
Starring: Drew Struzan, Dylan Struzan, Harrison Ford, Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, Michael J. Fox, Thomas Jane
Running time: 97 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Drew: The Man Behind The Poster is a 2013 documentary film directed by Erik Sharkey about the career of American film poster artist Drew Struzan.
I watched this documentary last year and kept meaning to review it. I don’t know how to review documentaries (or books! man I’m behind on book reviews). As a documentary, I suppose it was pretty good. I don’t watch too many of them unless I’m really really interested in the subject, though, and this one was right up my alley. I love movies (obviously) & movie poster art and Drew Struzan has designed some of the greatest & most well known movie posters. So I’ll warn you right now that I may end up talking more about his art than about the actual documentary.
What I liked about this documentary, as with any documentary, was finding out more about Struzan’s personal life as well as his work. They talked to him and to his wife a lot and they seemed to have a lovely, very close relationship (I love a good husband & wife team). I’d say Struzan came across as a bit bitter and angry over certain things (he got very screwed over by someone in his career so I can understand that anger). He was the very definition of a “starving artist” in his early days and his wife was always by his side. I think this documentary got the balance right in talking about his personal life as well as his art. I can’t find any photos of his wife (Dylan) in the documentary, which is odd as she’s a very important part of it. But I found the above photo here, on the website of an artist who met Drew. It’s an interesting article if you want to have a look at the link & get an actual artist’s perspective on things (I can’t draw anything other than stick figures. I can’t even paint a wall properly!).
It’s interesting how artistic types can sometimes be difficult but I liked how Struzan seems to have said “screw it” and lives for his wife & his art now. I’m difficult too but I have zero artistic talent of any sort so I don’t know what my excuse is… 😉 I’m not saying he came across as unlikeable – just that he does what he wants to do now & too bad if others don’t like it. I think more people should be like that, actually. He was far less grumpy than Paul Williams was in the Paul Williams Still Alive documentary that I watched at the same time. I suppose I should do a mini-review of that sometime too… Here’s my review: Paul Williams is a grumpy fart! Lol. Seriously, though, Struzan came across as a private person who’s very passionate about the things he loves and I have a lot of respect for people who are like that.
First of all, I’ll say they did a good job getting some famous people to talk about Struzan and the work that he did for/with them (I especially loved Michael J. Fox’s enthusiasm for Struzan’s work – you could tell just how much he loved being a part of the Back To The Future posters). Speaking of grumpy famous people, they even got Harrison Ford to talk about Struzan! How cool is that? He must be the actor Struzan has painted more than any other… We also heard from Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, and Thomas Jane.
I’m really glad they spoke to Thomas Jane about his part as a movie poster artist in Frank Darabont’s The Mist. For anyone not familiar with the movie, Struzan’s artwork was used in the beginning and Jane’s character is shown painting Struzan’s art for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (which Struzan painted specifically to be used in The Mist). Three things I love all together: Stephen King, Drew Struzan & Frank Darabont! Wait… Four! Thomas Jane is a hottie. Anyway, Struzan showed Jane how to make it look like he was really an artist doing a painting then, being the perfectionist that he is, later told Jane that he did it completely wrong in the movie. I loved Jane’s re-telling of the story – he had a great sense of humor about it.
Frank Darabont is clearly a big fan of Struzan’s as he’s had him do art for a lot of his work (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead, and of course artwork for & in The Mist). George Lucas is also a huge fan and Struzan has done loads of Star Wars art for books, anniversary editions, etc. There are so many different Struzan Star Wars pieces that it’s hard to choose a favorite. I think it’s between Revenge Of The Jedi & this one, which was a collaboration with artist Charles White III:
Struzan did the poster art for Hellboy but he also did an amazing piece for Pan’s Labyrinth, which the studio rejected (much to Guillermo del Toro’s anger). But del Toro is very proud to have this hanging in his home – I’d love to have this!:
I hate how studios so often feel the need to have horrible, boring movie posters just featuring photos of the film’s stars these days. I understand that seeing the stars so prominently displayed convinces some people to watch a movie (I guess?) but it doesn’t work on me. I’m more interested in a film if it has a really interesting, artistic poster (I’m the same way with books. I’m drawn to books with good covers). Struzan paints the film’s stars anyway so I don’t know why anyone would ever choose some crappy photoshopped photo over a painting for a movie poster. I’d much rather see something like this:
I’ve decided to stop here for a couple of reasons. First of all, I sometimes feel ridiculous “reviewing” movies when I know as little about filmmaking as I do about writing. When it comes to art, I have even less experience or knowledge. I just know what I LIKE and I have a passion for film, music, books, and art & love discussing it with all of you in the same way that someone like Struzan has a passion for actually creating that art. Believe me, I’d far rather be creating it but I just don’t have that ability.
Second of all, if I continue I know I’ll just ramble on & on about all my favorite Struzan pieces. So, in the middle of this, I decided to do a separate list of My Top Ten Drew Struzan Movie Art Pieces, which I’ll post tomorrow. I’ve actually not even mentioned a lot of my favorites, including the one that is my favorite Struzan poster, hands down. I’ll just mention this as I decided that my list tomorrow should focus on only his movie art: When watching this documentary, I had NO idea that Struzan had done album covers and that he did one of my all-time favorites for Black Sabbath. How on Earth had I not known that?! The Alice Cooper one is amazing as well:
Love those! Like I said, I know what I like and I know that seeing Drew Struzan movie art makes me happy. As for this documentary, I really enjoyed it as I find the subject matter fascinating and it was great getting to know a little bit about this private and talented artist.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Probably not for me : )
You need some culture & shit!!! 😉
This sounds like something I’d really wish to see (and I can stream it on Netflix!). The man has created simply some awesome artwork throughout his career. Read a short while back, “We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy” by Caseen Gaines and the author wrote a nice segment about Struzan’s work in the trilogy. Interesting you have a photo of him signing his “The Thing” poster at the end. It’s not my favorite for that John Carpenter film, but I certainly recognize it is now the iconic graphic for it. Well done.
Thanks!!! Sorry – just catching up on comments now. Lol – yeah, I know you now know The Thing is my favorite work of his. 😉 That book sounds interesting! I love Back to the Future. Yeah – you should check this documentary out if you’re interested in his work. He’s certainly done some iconic stuff! 🙂
I can see myself really getting into this. Talk about a number of iconic pieces. That Hook poster in the background is fabulous as is the Big Trouble in Little China work. May favorite may be at the very end. You can see working on or signing a poster of The Thing! I love that movie and that poster image is classic!
You really should check this documentary out if you’re at all interested – well worth the time! It’s funny how most people don’t seem to get as excited about movie poster art as I do (I knew I wouldn’t get many comments on a documentary review but at this rate it’ll be my least commented on post ever! Lol). Which is a shame as I think Struzan is brilliant & his art makes you want to SEE the movie. 🙂 And you’ve mentioned my number one favorite Struzan poster which I mentioned not having mentioned. 😉 The Thing has always been my favorite of his – love it! I don’t own the documentary but I want to pick it up as I really want to see it again but if I remember correctly, he didn’t have much to go on when creating that one (he usually has images to work off of and knows the plot & all that). So he kind of just had to make something up for The Thing, I believe.
Movie poster art has always made an impression on me dating back to when I was a kid in the 80s. Our state newspapers had small movie poster prints in their Friday additions to advertise new films for that week. I would cut them out of the paper and collected them. I didn’t get to go to the theater as much as I wanted back then, but the posters and the reviews kept me in the loop.
That’s interesting – I didn’t notice posters so much growing up. I certainly didn’t GO to as many movies in the 80s as I do now. But I love the nostalgia involved when seeing his work and remembering them from the time. 🙂
Reblogged this on SLIP/THROUGH… the nerdy stuff you don't want to slip through the cracks and commented:
This is a great article from CINEMA PAROT DISCO highlighting the work and career of legendary movie poster artist Drew Struzan. All of those classic hand crafted posters like Back to The Future come from this brilliant mad scientist.
Enjoy this amazing article!
Thanks again for the reblog! 🙂
Cheers eh… I really enjoyed your review. Sadly, this doc is not on Netflix Canada. I’m excited to see it.
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I’ve kinda been aware this documentary existed, but sounds like I really must get round to watching it.
Movie posters these days are so much less inspiring than they used to be. Marvel always try to do Struzan-like things with their final posters, albeit with photo collages, but it’s not the same (not to mention the fact Marvel seem to feel the need to squeeze the entire cast on).
Yeah… There’s way too much going on in those Marvel posters! I definitely recommend this documentary if you’re curious – it’s well worth the watch! 🙂
This is so interesting! It’s incredible how large the movie world is. Just when you think you have a good grasp on the industry, you realize you didn’t know about a big chunk of it. I’ve never actually put much thought into poster art, but this is really incredible.
Thanks for the comment, Mel! 🙂 This really was a great documentary. I’ve known about Struzan for a while but know nothing about the art industry & creating movie posters. I’ve been even more curious about his work since it was featured in The Mist. Really enjoyed this documentary. 🙂
He’s incredibly talented. I’m glad you’re I’ve opened my eyes 🙂
I’m glad you’ve * opened my eyes
As much as I hated ET, I really like the poster. I rather just look at that.
Awww! How can you hate E.T.?!? 😉 I love that poster – had never seen it before… 🙂
I have never heard of Struzan but this looks really interesting.
It was! You should check it out if you get a chance – I know you like a good documentary. Such a talented guy. 🙂
After Close Encounters I was looking for a really good alien movie. Instead E.T. turned out to be a few seps below a prenatal Saturday morning cartoon. At least it’s a movie kids can go see and tghey do need something to latch onto. But as a “sophisticated” -cough-cough- adult I was hoping for something a lot better. Time for me to get back to my Bullwinkle reruns.
Lol! Damn… Well, I loved E.T. & still do but I suppose it maybe helped that I was a kid when it came out. 😉 Close Encounters is amazing, though! But Alien & Aliens will always be my favorite “alien” movies, I suppose. 🙂
Another fascinating post. Nice Mutey. I would love to get my mitts on this. Poster art is a huge part of my experience going to the movies as well. I’m drawn much more to the artistry than to who’s pretty (or ugly) mug takes up the image. 🙂
Thanks, Tom! 🙂 I’m really glad people saw this post & are now interested in knowing more about Struzan & poster art. I’ve always loved a good movie poster & he’s one of the greatest to create them. Definitely try to get a hold of this & give it a watch sometime! 🙂
wow! you’ve sold me on watching this. why couldn’t you have given THIS to me to watch 🙂
That wouldn’t have been any fun… 😉
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I didn’t even really know who this was, but apparently if I stumble across it I should check it out. The artwork is familiar though!
And I freaking LOVE that artwork of The Gunslinger! Big time awesome!
Yeah – I’m glad I seem to have introduced a bunch of bloggers to his work. A very good documentary! So much better than that Paul Williams one. And, yes – love that Gunslinger poster! Even though I have yet to read that King series…
I started The Dark Tower series, I just need to finish it. I enjoyed what I read though, and there were some lines in there that I LOVED. Ah, maybe my next lot of reads!
I’m saving those for my retirement. So… A couple of years from now. 😉
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