My Project's Major Influence - Priest (1994)

For my project, I have decided to produce a project based on the Thriller sub-genre because I have always been interested in dramatic films that have a dark twist. A film that belongs to this sub-genre can also include serious themes and explore social issues that affect the everyday lives of that film's target audience. When I was first introduced to this project, I always wanted to create something serious because the final product had a higher chance of appearing more professional and formal. Plus, I was worried that if I did a comedy project, the final product may appear sloppy and will not appeal to the audience as much as I hoped it to. This sub-genre spawns from the Horror genre and, although the idea of producing a horror film sounds fun, I was worried that the creation of gore effects may not be as effective and professional as I had hoped. That was the main decision behind me wanting to do a thriller film.
I have decided to analyse the poster and the DVD cover for 1994 Antonia Bird's Priest because I believe that these texts are really effective at appealing to fans of the Thriller sub-genre and attract fans of other genres to go and watch this film. (This film is not to be confused with the 2011 fantasy horror film of the same name.) I have also had the opportunity to watch this film online and I think that it is a very great film that captures and maintains the audience's attention right from the start.
Priest stars British actor Linus Roache as Father Greg Pilkington, a closeted priest whose beliefs in sexuality are frowned upon by members of the Church. When a young girl confesses to him that she is the victim of her father's physical and sexual abuse, Roache has to put his own battles aside as he  encounters an emotional struggle of choosing between everyday morals or the values of his religion.
 In my opinion, I think that this poster is effective because it captures the serious, formal emotion of this media text really well.
 This has been created through the photography of Linus Roache's character. A big-close up of Roache has been used as the poster's focal point. This tells the audience that his character is the main character. The rule of odds method that has been used shows that his character is the most important person in this film. This method also creates a dark, tense mood. This helps the audience identify the film's serious content. Although the majority of this poster's lighting is fairly low key, lighting from the centre defines half of Roache's numb, monotonous facial expression. His facial expression signifies that the film does not rely on humour to entertain the audience. Therefore, this tells the consumer that this film is not a comedy. The use of costume signifies that there is a particular theme to the film: the white collar band that Roache is wearing is a typical costume convention that a priest wears. Therefore, this tells the audience that the film's events and plots are influenced by the fact that Roache's character is a priest. His dark, black robes also gives the title's typography definition. There are no special, visual effects in this poster. This not only represents the film's naturalistic theme but it also prevents any attention being drawn away from Roache's face.
In terms of the poster's typography, there are elements that help the audience to identify what they can expect from this film. The 'T' in Priest is in the shape of a cross to represent the film's religious theme. The fact that there are several elements that portray this theme tells the audience that religion plays an important role in the film's events. The old-fashioned font relates to the film's influential, ancient rituals. This, alongside the tag-line below the main title, is an enigma code because the content of the tag-line (One man is about to challenge two thousand years of tradition) turns the old-fashioned ritual feel onto its head and makes us question if he will actually be able to defy those rituals and come out stronger. This degree of suspense thrills us and represents the film's genre.
If I was to change anything about this poster, I would have removed the second tag-line at the top left (next to Roache's face) because I believe that the previous tag-line is powerful and effective enough on its own so it makes this other tag-line seem less relevant and more like a description for the film's scenario. My definition of a tag-line is an enigmatic statement that can easily be remembered by the consumer. This extra piece of information does not fall under my definition of a tag-line. Also, the white font and the hazy orange background clashes and it is initially quite difficult to read.
The front cover of this DVD is one of my personal favourites of all film covers because the photographic elements have been carefully placed to effectively highlight the film's darker themes. Although there is a certain lack of continuity between the front cover and the poster above, the second tag-line from the poster has been paraphrased and used in this cover as the main tag-line for the film. The tag-line's yellow font, which matches the colour of the light source, stands out amongst the black background. This colour is also used for the reviews as a form of continuity and to signify that the producers believe that they are as equally important (in terms of attracting audience interest) as the tag-line. The reviews are very positive in order to appeal to the audience and to grant them a positive second opinion.
There is another slight difference between the poster and the cover - the title's typography. Although the same type of font has been used (including the same cross detail for the T that is an influence of the religious theme), the font in the cover is white with a subtle red glow to allow the consumer to be able to read it. If the cream/yellow colour (like in the poster) was used, the consumer would have difficulty distinguishing it. The colour red gives the consumer connotations of love, lust, blood, warning and death. This is an enigma code because it creates suspense and warns us of events to come. The suspense intrigues the audience and makes us want to go and see the film.
I like the front cover's photography because it applies the rule of thirds method except in a diagonal form.  This equally positions the elements of the image and allows the consumer to identify key focal points in the cover. This gives the cover a professional finish and is a form of audience attraction. The image's lighting is low key and its only natural source of light comes from the stain-glassed window at the top of the centre third. The choice of lighting not only creates a dark, intense atmosphere but it also gives Roache's closed body language and estranged expression definition. This allows the consumer to connect with him and to feel his emotion. The stained-glass window is a reference to the film's religious theme: a typical feature of a church are the stained-glass windows. The director (or the person who instructed Roache) has been careful in creating a subtle expression from Roache because if it was over the top, it would misrepresent the film and it could portray the film as being a parody or not serious at all. However, Roache shows the powerful emotion through his face to represent his character's situation and his mental battle with his emotions.
The back cover continues the colour scheme that is used for the front cover as a form of continuity. There are even more reviews on the back cover that have been highlighted in yellow to make them stand out amongst the black background. Even more positive reviews from several national bodies suggest that this is a film that can not be missed so, as a result, appeals to the consumer. For the blurb, the first letter is yellow to draw the consumer's attention to that particular section of the cover. This could also be a reference to the film's religious theme because in the Bible, the first word of every chapter always has a very large first letter (as shown in the picture below). When placed into that context, the creator of this cover could have done this to emphasise the importance of this section of the cover. (The blurb is often a section of a DVD or VHS cover that is either over-read or even ignored because of other 'distracting' elements that could be on the cover such as stills of action-filled scenes or visual effects that form a part of the background image.) The last sentence in the blurb [...see this unforgettable big-screen hit for yourself!] uses an imperative that involves the consumer and encourages them to see the film for themselves.
An extract from the Bible where the first letter of verse 1
is larger than the rest of the text.
The size of the images on the back cover are small so that they do not take over the foreground and stop the consumer from looking at the other elements. It also shows that they are equally as important in terms of attracting consumer appeal as the other elements on the cover. All of the images are of Roache. This emphasises that he is the lead character and is very important in the story. This also shows that the film is taken from his perspective or view of the events. The central image captures Roache hugging another actor intimately and with deep despair. This is an enigma code as it intrigues the consumer and makes us wonder why he looks so upset. This interest encourages the consumer to watch the film and find out what is upsetting him.
From this particular film campaign, I have learnt that it is important for a layout to be consistent whether this is on a small scale or if every element is re-used for each way of promoting the film. I have learnt that if continuity is used on a small scale, it is important to re-use the most iconic element because people who may have already seen the film in the cinema will be able to remember it when they see it again in shops or online.
I have also learnt that every element of an advert is equally important when it comes to promoting a media text and gaining appeal from the audience. It is because of this that emphasis must be placed on the elements' importance.


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