The Art of the Sell — Close Encounters of the Third Kind movie poster

These posts celebrate the movie trailers, movie posters, commercials, print ads, and other promotional material that stand as their own works of art.

Sometimes I think my first real lessons in the intense power an image can hold came from movie posters. I was fascinated by movies as a little kid, but my access to them was fairly limited. Certainly, I wasn’t being taken to anything other than the kiddie fare coming out from Walt Disney Studios or pretenders to that candy-coated throne who secured the film rights to Peanuts or some such pied piper enticement. But I scrutinizes the ads that showed up in the newspaper or hung on the wall of the movie houses I walked through to see what Snoopy and the gang were up to.

I was also deeply susceptible to images that carried a touch of menace to them. I was a skittish youngster, and I could be mesmerized when a poster taunted me into figuring out the potential threat that was looming. In the case of the poster for Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, that potential threat literally glowed on the horizon. By now, I know that movie very, very well, and nothing in it particularly spooks me. But the poster, I’m still a little haunted by it. When I look at it, I’m the awestruck seven-year-old boy all over again.

Other entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Art of the Sell” tag.

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