DREW: THE MAN BEHIND THE POSTER

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DVD REVIEW: DREW: THE MAN BEHIND THE POSTER / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: ERIK SHARKEY / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: DREW STRUZAN, STEVEN SPIELBERG, GUILLERMO DEL TORO, HARRISON FORD, MICHAEL J. FOX / RELEASE DATE: TBC

What would be your favourite movie poster? Maybe it’s the one for Back to the Future with Marty McFly standing next to the DeLorean and staring at his watch in amazement? How about the legendary Return of the Jedi artwork showing the lightsaber duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader with the latter’s helmet malevolently dominating the background? Surely the poster for John Carpenter’s The Thing showing hypnotic, startling light bursting from the hood of a parka would be up there?

Whatever your choice, there is a very good chance it will have been created by Drew Struzan, a man who has quietly, yet significantly, influenced filmgoers for around 40 years with his paintings as much as any of the numerous legendary directors for whom he became the go-to guy.

Beginning his career creating album covers, including one iconic piece of work for Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare, Drew’s talent was quickly recognised and offers for more lucrative film posters began to flood in. Not until he produced art for a little known film called Star Wars, though, did things really begin to change for him.

Erik Sharkey’s documentary, Drew: The Man Behind the Poster, does exactly what it needs to do, but perhaps doesn’t do any more than that. There are an abundance of interviews with Drew himself, his wife, and an impressive roll call of Hollywood royalty from Steven Spielberg to Guillermo Del Toro, and the praise for his work verges on the euphoric. There is no doubt that Drew’s posters have sold cinema seats as much as any trailer could, and with credits including the Indiana Jones series and Blade Runner there is no doubt that the often used word “legend” is extremely apt in his case. Where the film does miss the mark slightly is in the slight repetition of this praise, with the only dark career shadow cast by an unscrupulous management team who siphoned off money and original works. Even that works out well in the end.

The difficulty the filmmakers faced is that Drew is a quiet, unassuming man who just wants to paint and perhaps, while being one of the unsung heroes of modern pop culture, hasn’t led the rock n’ roll lifestyle that makes a documentary fizz with illicit revelations and dark secrets. This is a man who has carved out an extraordinary career, for the most part under the radar, existing in a world in which a perfect poster remains imprinted on your brain, but may never lead you to ask the question of who painted it.

Certainly appealing more to an age group that grew up without the instant rush of social media and the ability to source anything, anytime, Drew: The Man Behind the Poster will twang nostalgic heartstrings and stir memories of seeing these amazing movie posters for the first time. That said, this is a hugely enjoyable, non-invasive portrait of a man whose work speaks louder than his words, and for that alone is essential viewing for anyone with a passing interest in the art form.

Iconic is another word too often used, but in the case of Drew Struzan, so much of his work is.

Special Features: TBC
 

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