Sunday, August 19, 2012

Modern Hollywood Hates Real Colour!

Frequent commenter, Ricardo Cantoral, pointed this Blu-Ray box art out to me in the comments on my last post. I am likewise appalled by how lackluster (and plain ugly) the art direction is on this box cover. Especially when you consider how rich the colour was in the original version of True Grit, as evidenced by the still I've included below.

Unfortunately, a lot of recent Blu-Ray releases of classic films from that era are suffering the same fate when it comes to the way the idiots in the various home video departments are choosing to market them to the consumer. It's quite obvious from the way recent films look that Hollywood has turned its collective back on real colour, preferring to sap it all out through digital desaturation technology and replacing it with what amounts to a blue, brown or gold monochrome with a few key areas pumped up with a complementary colour for contrast. I personally find the process ugly and maddening, resulting in me shunning most films released today.

Therefore, I think it's terribly ignorant of modern Hollywood to foist their tasteless choices onto older movie buffs, by way of marketing classic colour films of the glorious past with this repugnant box art. Here are some more examples of this obnoxious trend:
Not only is this devoid of the movie's colour, but look at the lousy composition, with the image cut off in the middle of Ratso Rizzo's right eye!
Though Hitchcock shot this classic caper in vivid Technicolor, it appears that Cary Grant and Grace Kelly are consoling each other over having both been stricken with jaundice!
Judging by what they've done to poor Popeye Doyle here, I think there is more likely a French's Mustard Connection.
And finally, here's one that I find unforgivable. This new seven disc set on Blu-Ray of the films of Marilyn Monroe is being marketed with this washed out black and white still (against a sterile white background), slightly accented with very muted colours, when most of the films in this collection are some of the most gorgeous Technicolor films of all time! I'll probably end up purchasing it for the (presumably) sharp, vivid colour  prints of these great films, but I'll be doing so DESPITE this awful marketing decision on the box art. Seriously, why couldn't they take a cue from the box art of the DVD collection pictured below and present Marilyn in all her Technicolor beauty?

I think I need to clear my mind of all this modern Hollywood tastelessness by watching Marilyn's iconic Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes:


Brett W. McCoy said...

Hee hee, I bought a nice colorful Jeep recently (deep cherry red) and named her Marilyn :-)

Ricardo Cantoral said...

Something very aggravating I learned recently is theater owners are also to blame for the murky look in films these days. Often, 3D lenses are used on cameras playing 2D films and these lenses cause a dramatic loss of light to the picture; I heard the figure to be as alarmingly high as 60 percent or more. Why aren't these lenses removed when playing a traditional 2d film ? Because it takes time and experience that the average movie projectionist does not have and the theater owners don't care. Hell, even when a 3-D film has a 3-D lens it's still a huge amount of loss of light to the picture. 3-D has pretty much spelled the doom of film and with genius turned wacko Martin Scorsese (who actually admitted he would have wanted Taxi Driver 3-D) endorsing this horrific trend in film. The future of film SHOULD be IMAX but sadly, Hollywood only wants anything digital.

Joshua Marchant (Scrawnycartoons) said...

Holy Cow! I thought that Ture Grit DVD was for the remake. You can see how I got confused.

Also, Diamonds are a girls best friend has spectacular color!

Steven M. said...

God, could they make those covers look anymore depressing, I feel like I'm going color blind.

Why are you hating on color, Hollywood?

Unknown said...

Pete. you're an instructor in the same form of media that you've been trashing a lot lately. As a teacher in a reputable animation program, you shouldn't be running the business into the ground like this. have you not considered that EVERYTHING in media goes in cycles? Desaturation is in, but color will be back when the cycle comes round. The worst part of this is that you're coming off as an angry, old has-been who's constantly crying that his good old days are gone.. quit while you're ahead Pete, seriously.. post only positive comments because students are looking up to you. And oh yeah they don't build cars like they used to, they don't build homes like they used to, they don't make movies like they used to either- what is to not understand. you don't want to come off as a 70-year old whining about his glory days which were 4 or 5 decades ago... you're a current instructor of a current program which teaches current trends in media and animation... stay young, and stay with today's trends- it's your job, remember?

Pete Emslie said...

Bullshit, Jack. This is my little soapbox on the internet and I'm going to use it as I please. Everybody out there with a blog uses it to express their personal opinion on subjects that are of concern or interest to them. I reserve that same right. Nobody is forcing you to read my posts, so don't enforce your views on me. Would you make the same demands of Mike Barrier, Michael Sporn, Amid Amidi, or John K to suppress their opinions too? I thought not...

Ricardo Cantoral said...

Really, the trend of desaturated colors is mostly in main stream Hollywood. Take a look at Le Harve which has bright, beautiful colors.

Le Harve screenshots

Thad said...

I bought all of the Marilyn Monroe Blu-Ray singles because they were so cheap individually. I was so glad I was able to defy having that awful white boxart in my house.

My guess is that they're just trying to make the movies seem more 'modern' and 'trendy' with generic fonts and lazy compositions. The singles don't fare any better, however... SEVEN YEAR ITCH is good in its emphasis on Marilyn's assets and the phallic champagne bottle, while GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES would be OK, if it weren't for that shit-colored curtain that has no counterpart in the actual film. HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, RIVER OF NO RETURN, and THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS is hackwork plain and simple.

God, I'd have loved to have designed covers for these movies. I'd have made them pop right off the shelf. Oh well. At least the movies look great.

Cover art on home video has always been repugnant. Don't overthink it - you'll just get a headache.

(RE: some of the others you posted... The composition sucks, but is the lack of color on MIDNIGHT COWBOY really a crime? Who honestly emembers that movie for its great color styling? Same with THE FRENCH CONNECTION - they've always been marketed like that. See here.)

Thad said...

The color Marilyn bootleg DVD stinks too. Ugly and overshadowed. This one fares a lot better. Take out the 'effects' and use a more saturated BG color and it's perfect. I mean, she was probably the most photogenic woman of all time - she doesn't need any further razzle dazzle in Photoshop.

Pete Emslie said...

"Cover art on home video has always been repugnant. Don't overthink it - you'll just get a headache."

You're probably right, Thad. After all, I've always bought the Disney home videos, in VHS, DVD, and now Blu-ray, despite most of the box art being badly drawn and overly rendered crap.

Ricardo Cantoral said...

Thad: I think the Midnight Cowboy and French Connection posters have a sense of grit to them and they were actually made by human beings. The BD covers on the other hand look like the sad by-products of a computer program.

Pete, I am curious to know what you think of those Le Harve screenshots. I also think PT Anderson's There Will be Blood was beautifully shot despite how awful the film was.

Ricardo Cantoral said...

More crap.

God, look at these awful covers for Dial M for Murder and Strangers on a Train ! The M with the plain white border and bland lettering is terrible. Strangers on a Train is even worse.

Unknown said...

You're an awesome artist Pete, but making comments like 'silly computers' or reminiscing about the good old days while complaining about current trends is an indication of someone who's losing touch with today's world. You're an instructor in a world-renowned animation program; you should enjoy the past and at the same time keep up with today's technology and trends and keep a positive attitude, because your students are looking up to you. The last thing they need is an instructor who is degrading the very subject he's teaching! Why aren't you accepting that time moves on, technology evolves, styles and trends change all the time. Some like it, some don't. But your students will become confused if you're putting down the industry that you're supposed to uphold as an instructor.

Edd Travers said...

Well said, Pete! Very well put. I couldn't agree more.

AndyG said...

I've found with most Hitchock's Premiere releases and the non-masterpiece releases, the covers have been pretty awful, even on the standard DVD releases.

I can understand the problems that a designer faces when producing a cover that would encapsulate a large body of work in a boxset. Finding the essence of the films is always a struggle, and I assume the Marilyn boxset was colour-graded as such to highlight the sexuality and elegance. I must admit, I found it surprising they chose such a monochromatic-colour pallet. I do prefer the alternative reds and saturated tones in the other boxart you provided, but I don't like the typeface at all on that piece of art.

For comparison's sake, I can point out there are some really fantastic boxcovers for black and white films:
King Kong (1933)
One could argue that they're just using the poster as the cover. Fortunately I think that's the right choice as it really makes the product look good.
With relation to Marilyn Monroe's famous film, Some Like it Hot has a pretty colourful (but simple) cover:
Some Like it Hot (1959). Quite the opposite to the the "Forever Marilyn" collection.

And on the side of good looking "minimalist" covers, I think Breakfast At Tiffany's is certainly elegant.
Breakfast at Tiffany's 50th Anniversary)

Also, the 50's Anniversary sets of Ben Hur and Sound of Music boxes are beautiful to look at and are packed with extras. They sit proudly on my shelf.

I realize your comments are towards certain releases that you feel strongly about. However, there are an abundance of more colourful and fitting releases that should be sought out and admired.

I think I'll leave it off with this last one I think is pretty fun and fitting for this release:
Singing in the Rain - Boxset
Singing in the Rain - regular

Martin Juneau said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin Juneau said...

Oh wow! This Blu-Ray covers pics are awful and badly composed. The one from Dial M for Murder and Strangers on a Train are confused and gets the nonsense direction of many today's Hollywood films. What happen to stagging, fun and naturals colours anyway? I always think that made a poster take years of trainings and experiences for made it right, but this illustrations gets no serious teachs or skills. Very sad for classics movies buffs.

Why not just let the theatrical poster for the Blu-Ray/DVD releases like was Daffy Duck's Quackbusters years ago?


Chris Sobieniak said...

The future of film SHOULD be IMAX but sadly, Hollywood only wants anything digital."

It's no wonder I don't go out to them anymore if they keep ruining the enjoyment I once had with cellulose acetate. It's just not the same.