Monday, August 29, 2016

Interstellar – Travel among stars, with stars

For a bigger version of the picture, just click on it.
Just like trailers, movie posters play a fundamental role in introducing a film to the audience, as they often represent the first look into the movie’s plot and its main characters. For that matter, they have to show enough to captivate the audience, yet not too much in order to leave some questions unanswered and further increase the attractiveness. 

For this movie poster analysis, I picked one from Interstellar, released in 2014 and wonderfully directed by Christopher Nolan, starring many movie stars such as Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine.

At first glance, the movie poster depicts three men wandering in space suits on a shallow body of water; given their equipment, the futuristic looking spacecraft and the unrealistic look of the sky, it seems that the scene is taken on another planet. The name Interstellar also suggests that the plot will include travelling in the outer space, and possibly, as accurate as the etymology of the title can be, literally among the stars. All of these characteristics suggest that the movie will be a scientific fiction or action film regarding space travel.

Looking at the main actors’ names at the top and at the three characters presented in the scene, we can only recognize Matthew McConaughey, which looks as (and will be) the protagonist, but very little detail is provided for both the actor (or actress, in this case) in the very back, whose face is almost unrecognizable, and the one on the right, whose name does not appear in the list of the stars. Only an actual movie scene depicting this setting will be able to present those actors as Anne Hathaway and Wes Bentley. As it has been done before (see Dallas Buyers Club) the formulators of this movie poster used the credibility and fame of Matthew McConaughey to attract viewers, and although they did not exploit any of the two other actors, not as equally famous but still very commonly known to the general public, that could be because they wanted to leave some surprise effect to the audience, and not show exactly who, where and how these actors figured in the movie. Also, by looking at different movie posters (included at the bottom of the post) from Interstellar, it is interesting to see that none of them depict any characters other than the protagonist, meaning that the focus of the advertising campaign really is showing Matthew McConaughey’s charisma as a key part of the ethos component. 

The colors, shades and palette of the poster also give an idea of the thrilling action and suspense in the movie. The grey, blueish tones of either the water or the starry sky all remind of the characteristics of the universe or the ocean, both seemingly infinite places to explore. Since the very idea of exploration is at the basis of the plot, this depiction is very accurate to the story. All these characteristics, including the title, the scene layout and the setting could figure in the logos component, as they provide logical references and explanations to what will actually occur in the movie.

The last component to be found in the poster is pathos, which is very clear in the presented slogan: “Mankind’s next step will be our greatest.” The sentence, which also adds some uncertainty and a suspense factor to the whole poster, refers to the chance of these astronauts to save the human species from extinction with the exploration of outer space. There lies the emotional part of the whole poster which will attract even more viewers to the film.

Here are the other main posters from the movie, and as you can see they really resemble the one I picked, both for the recurrent presence of Matthew McConaughey and the link to space travelling.


  1. This is a very well written response. I think you nailed the breakdown of the logos, pathos, and ethos components. It is also important to point out the fact that they put " Experience it in IMAX" as a big headline on the first poster. Especially with a sci fi/ drama film, IMAX adds sound effects and realism that is unparalleled to any other viewing experience. Overall, I completely agree with your movie poster response and as someone who has never seen the movie I now hope I can see it in the near future.

  2. Thank you so much Hunter! Interestingly enough, I didn't even consider the IMAX title, and if I get a chance (that is, if we're allowed to) I will think of adding a paragraph about it. I originally saw this movie in IMAX, and as you said, it was definitely worth it, even so that when we walked out of the theatre we really did believe we'd just been space travelling. You should absolutely watch Interstellar, it is one of my all time favorites, and if you like action or sci-fi movies like I do, you will love it from start to end.