A Critique of the Tangled One-Sheet Poster

If it seems that I’ve been posting about this film for the last three months, you’re right, I have. Today’s topic is the film’s one-sheet poster. We’re all familiar with one-sheets, they’re the poster’s you see at the cinema then buy for a relative fortune after the fact (but seriously if anyone out there would like to hook me up with some posters that are, um, passed their sell-by date, let me know).

The subject today is the latest (although probably not final) one for Tangled and I fell it’s worthy of a good critique. It is shown below for your convenience (cheers, /film).

Feel free to study it for a minute and come to a few of your own conclusions before continuing. Not being an art critic what you read below is pretty much the way I see it and I don’t want you to feel lost in any way.

Let’s start with the setting. It appears that they’re standing on the edge of a forest of some kind. The leaves/branches on top seem to set a slightly dark undertone for the film that you will already be aware of if you watched the trailers.

The background is, for want of a better word, wanting. We can see the tower on the right but it seems to bee set in some sort of quarry or canyon. Although this choice is well outside the poster designer’s grasp, its position suggests that the characters have their backs up against the metaphorical wall. The fact that they’re all ready to fight only reinforces this.

I cannot decipher a lot of detail in the background because the image file I have isn’t large enough but glimpses of the complexity of the animation can be seen in the detailing on the tower and the garden below it. It would be nice if this was more at the forefront of the poster to emphasise the artistic merit of the film but there’s a chance there’s another poster on the way which may or may not address this.

I suppose one of the nice things about CGI films is that their physical promotional material uses the actual animation as the source rather than relying on a separate set of artists and painters for the artwork. It keeps everything consistent for the sake of the public.

Moving onto the horse. He’s looking at the right rather than straight ahead like the other two. Why would he do that? Is he not focused on the terror in front of him like the others? I suppose not. He is also notable for being the only one of the trio to be holding an actual weapon. Comic relief aside he would seem to either be on a more perilous quest or, as I believe, is protecting the other two from a menace that they are oblivious to. He’s also snarling as if he’s been betrayed in some way. The horse might know something the other two do not. We will have to wait and see.

Flynn, our antagonistic male character, is holding the frying pan, the wrong way around of course (you always hit someone with the base of the pan, not the, eh, pan part itself), this might well allude to his level of intelligence. He too stands ready to fight although his smile gives the game away that he might not take the approaching fight as seriously as he should.

While he stands with his back to Rapunzel, as in, he’s got her back, she is standing in front. With that in mind, Flynn is clearly standing with his back to whatever it is the horse is snarling at. He’d do well to look the other way.

Lastly there is Rapunzel, our protagonist. She stands feet apart, although her left one is on tippy-toe, as if it is ready to move at a moments notice. She holds her hair in both hands as if it is a weapon although it is not clear how she intends to use it. We can take a good guess but the poster does not make the intent explicit enough.

She stands sideways but faces forwards as if she intends to twirl  into action. While more characters don’t normally stand face-forward, they also don’t have their bodies facing 90 degrees either. With her left hand pulled so far back, the pose looks contorted and uncomfortable. If I were getting ready for a fight, I would most definitely have both hands in front of me, Fighting Irish style (although, no, we don’t really hold our fists like that). While the pose itself suggests that she is ready to for whatever it is that she anticipates, a more natural position would have been, not realistic, but more inviting in the eyes of the audience.

Her face is the most intriguing of the trio. Her eyes are furrowed as if she is disapproving or concentrating on something. She displays a knowing smirk, as if she is aware of exactly how things are going to turn out in her favour.

Atop her head sits her little froggie sidekick. He looks like the only one of the bunch that’s asking for a fight.

Last but not least, we have the tagline at the top.

They’re taking adventure to new lengths

I get the pun, but everyone will read that as they expect it to be. There are a million potential puns on the idea of length and they chose one that has nothing to do with it. It could be better is all I’m saying.

Now, compare the setting of this poster with the French one.

Now there’s a dramatic scene, both characters hanging out of the tower so tall you can barely see the ground below. The girl has managed to subdue Flynn as we would expect but it is clear that he is apprehensive not merely scared. Either way, does that look like an exciting movie or what?

Overall, the design of the US poster is pleasing. It is colourful and sets the overall tone for the film, i.e. it’s a bit of an adventure, we’re all in together and there’s a few laughs along the way. It piques interest in the film, which is its main mission. The trailer will do much more to sell the film, the one-sheet’s job is to alert the public to an exciting new movie that will soon debut.

Has it made me anticipate the movie? Yes it has. Would I hang it on my wall? Perhaps, although I’d have to move a few things around. As you can see, things are not as simple as they first appear. I’ve written a good  hundred thousand words on the thing and I’m not the slightest bit observant when it comes to art.

All in all, it looks like a good show. Let’s hope it turns out all right 🙂

2 Comments on “A Critique of the Tangled One-Sheet Poster

  1. I’m not sure I feel anything new looking at this poster. These are poses I have seen many times, and it looks like a good introduction. But even one-sheet posters can be deceiving. The characters look like their ready to defend themselves against something. I think I like the French poster better, because it gives a basic idea of the who the characters and what their initial relationship is like. Sometimes a bad poster can hide a really good movie (Ratatouille is a good example). Other times you just have to wait and see. So far, these posters only give me a neutral feeling. We’ll see when the movie comes out, which one speaks louder.

    • You’re absolutely right Emmett. Posters (and trailers) can be deceiving. I also happen to prefer the French one, it leaves much more for the viewer to decipher and ponder over.

      Seeing as both of these are teasers, I agree that we will have to wait for the final poster and the film itself before we pass judgement.

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