“Poverty produced a technique,” laughs Drew Struzan, recounting the way he learned to finely paint with the subtlest strokes he could physically manage. At his poorest he’d eat two days a week, as he had to choose between art supplies and food.
From humble beginnings, an anonymous icon was born. Whispers travelled about a man who made Alice Cooper look regal, and gradually Drew became the go-to guy for striking, cinematic art. Few may recognise his face, but chances are the Back To The Future and Star Wars posters are as ingrained in the minds of the world than most of the films are.
The Man Behind The Poster visits a still-humble Struzan discussing his greatest hits, scattered between the likes of George Lucas, Guillermo del Toro and Frank Darabont all waxing lyrical over Struzan’s talent. It feels more like a fan film than colleagues recollecting memories, as Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg give fascinating insights into how Indiana Jones had to channel the look of the poster, and Michael J Fox claims that if he looks to his watch, people “freak out” at him copying the Struzan-depicted Marty.
Struzan himself grounds the whole thing. He talks of his work soberly – even occasionally making it sound mundane – and only perpetuates his mystical status further by not revealing tricks of his trade. If you want to level a criticism at this film, it’s that besides giving Struzan fans an hour and a half of nostalgia and hoopla, it doesn’t often delve much into his creative process.
It’s a strange juxtaposition that makes Drew so interesting though. It’s hard to imagine a man who used to survive on so little creating such vibrant, grandiose work; it’s this balance that carries the film, as Struzan seemingly produces one magic trick after the next throughout his career.
The Man Behind the Poster is a fantastic introduction to one of cinema’s silent heroes, and a great excuse to see so much of Struzan’s work.