Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rhetorical Analysis

Beth Richardson
College Writing 2
Rhetorical Analysis
Clichés that Work: Rhetorical Analysis of Movie Posters
            The best-selling author Nicolas Sparks is known for making cliché love stories that are most always turned into popular films. The four movie posters I have chosen to analyze are The Best of Me, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, and The Last song. Each of these posters has a similar design and all make the viewer think of the longing for love. The posters either make the viewer’s think of their own love life or one they would like to have.
            These movies were all made in the 2000’s after the novels became best sellers. Each of these films features two leading roles through a journey of some heart wrenching events all leading back to the couple and their undying love story. Romantic films like these ones are a reoccurring genre choice that always draws large crowds to the box office.  Each poster captures young couples embracing each other in a similar stance that could be a universal sign of a romantic film.
            Approaching each poster in order from their release dates, I will analyze the use of ethos, pathos, and logos and the specific choices the producers made with both visual and textual components.

Fig. 1. A Walk to Remember movie poster, 2002
200201-a-walk-to-rememberThe A Walk to Remember poster seen in figure 1 has a main focus on two people. Their bodies cover the whole poster with words on top. The couple is hugging and smiling, giving us the impression that they are happy together touching our emotional appeal already. The title written in yellow scrambled font at the bottom is the next part our eye is drawn too. Looking at the picture in comparison to the title doesn’t give the viewer much information about why the movie is called that, but it can be assumed that this is a romantic film based upon several aspects on the poster. Back up to the top, the names Mandy Moore and Shane West are placed fairly big. These are the two main actors and by having their names large and visible at the top could draw attention to those who are fans of their work, making the audience already interested in seeing the film. This also could add some credibility to the films overall attraction having two strong, popular leads covering the poster. Other words are written along the side but in smaller font. “She didn’t belong, she was misunderstood, and she would change him forever,” is written next to the title, which gives a very vague understanding of what the story is about. One more phrase under the title: “it all comes down to who’s by your side,” gives deeper meaning to the choice of photo. The couple is literally by each other’s side, making the text have more of an impact. Having the text flow around the picture of the couple makes the viewer focus on the picture without the words completely taking over. Because of the way their body placement is, it comes across as very natural and the smiling looks sincere. This places the audience to automatically think of their own loving relationships, or wish that they had something like this to compare to.
Fig. 2. The Notebook movie poster, 2004 poster for The Notebook is similar to the poster for A Walk to Remember. The focus is again on two people embracing in the center. The two people are very close and look to be in a passionate moment drawing the viewers’ conclusion that they too are in love. The title at the bottom corresponds with the name of the movie because the font looks like something that would be written in a notebook. The text at the top with the          Phrase: “Behind every great love is a great story,” touches on an emotional appeal as well. This vague description informs the viewer that there is more to this story then just meets the eye. There is an arrangement of names of actors scattered around the middle in small font. This may also attract viewers who see a star they are a fan of to want to go see the movie, once again automatically giving the film more credibility. The photo of the two in the rain is again the entire poster. Their bodies are spilling off the page to make the audience feel like they are standing right there in front of our eyes. The Notebook is one of if not the most well-known love story by author Nicholas Sparks. This movie was much anticipated by many and having “from the best-selling novel” written at the bottom lets viewers know that this is the same story everyone is talking about, making viewers more attracted to the poster.
Fig. 3. The Last Song movie poster, 2010

201003-the-last-songThe poster for The Last Song has a different lay out then the other two posters I’ve analyzed so far. Still, the main focus is on the two young people in the center. This time the two people who could be guessed as lovers are looking in different directions. The title towards the bottom is the next place our eyes move; it’s fairly big and stands out to the beach background. Looking down even further we see the phrase: “A story about family, first love, second chances, and the moments in life that
BOMPoster                                                    lead you back home.” To the left of the font we see two people walking which could symbolize “coming home.” Once again the text puts the viewers in the place to think about their own lives. At the very top of the poster reads: “from the author of The Notebook and A Walk to Remember,” suggesting that those who enjoyed those books and movies would also be entertained by this. Having the famous author and other top movies mentioned brings an ethos appeal to this poster, backing up its credentials.  
Fig. 4. The Best of Me movie poster, 2014
Fig. 4. The Best of Me movie poster
The poster for The Best of Me is somewhat similar to the poster for The Last Song. The main focus is of course the two lovers; both the larger zoomed in version at the top and the smaller two in the middle bottom. This poster, like the previous has more of a background and has more going on than just people but our eye is automatically drawn to the couple embracing, which is a common theme in all of the posters. The title of the film is supposed to look far away and is placed behind the young couple with light hitting it in the midst of a lake. We then look to the water with the reflection of the words and the couple standing on the dock, suggesting a possible setting for the film. The words above the title are small but bold saying “you never forget your first love,” in all capitals. Another obscure quote is used to make the viewer think and feel at the same time, without taking away from the visuals. By looking at this poster the audience is made to feel emotional and maybe even romantic. Since the poster has two different couples one younger than the other the audience might already conclude that they are the same people just different ages. Referring back to the title The Best of Me could correspond with the same people always bringing out the best in each other even years later, still locking eyes and still in love which is captured in the visuals. The audience could perhaps think of their first love or just love in general.
            Each of these posters all position the audience to think about love and their own lives or potentially want this kind of love. The designers of the posters chose the decisions they did to emphasize what appears as the “perfect love story” to draw people in. Every one of these posters gives off an emotional appeal even before seeing the film, and for some enhances the desire to go and see it.
            The audience of these posters is asked to think about love and want the kind of love these characters have. Three out of the four posters I chose to analyze have the same view of two people facing each other with the man holding the women close to his face. The other poster is only slightly different but still the two people are still very close. People who view these posters can either see themselves wanting to be like the characters in the film or at least the great love story they portray or leave the viewer pondering their love life.
            There are many romantic films with similar themes and stories like each of these movies but they still manage to make people want to see them. Even with the posters being so similar in layout and the way each photo is taken, people keep coming back to see the latest from Nicolas Sparks. It is evident that those who are familiar to Sparks’ novels or the works of the popular actors in the films would be first to be intrigued by these posters. Each of these posters are designed to make us a feel a certain way, and the producers made that clear with the similar choices made in design and textual support. This series of posters along with many others prove that using similar romantic clichés works to attract viewers and will continue to make audiences feel a connection to their own lives.

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