Social distancing—our new national pastime—is something that’s very hard to find, or achieve, in movie posters: there’s just not enough space. For poster designers, space is always at a premium: we photoshop actors closer together just to fit them into the same tall, narrow frame; we pile them all up in all-star pyramids; or we fill the sheet with their big heads. So when I decided to look for examples of social distancing in movie posters there were a lot fewer than I expected. People are constantly grappling, smooching, pummeling and otherwise invading each other’s space in movie posters so you rarely see people keeping apart.
Even in the posters of that master of social distance, Michelangelo Antonioni, people are never depicted as being as remote from each other as they often are in his films. Antonioni’s distributors naturally wanted to sell sex rather than alienation so most of his posters feature people clutching each other for dear life, not wandering six feet apart in the fog.
The wizard of social distancing in movie posters would have to be Vasilis Marmatakis, whose posters for the films of Yorgos Lanthimos are all about the space between us, and that unfulfilled yearning for contact.
It wasn’t so hard to find posters in which solitary souls are stranded in some sort of a void with definitely more than six feet of space around them.
But when you have more than one human being in a poster it becomes much more difficult to keep them apart. Even in British quad posters, which have all that horizontal space, I was hard pressed to find people keeping their distance.
Below are some of my favorite examples of social distancing in movie posters. Some are following the guidelines better than others, and if you know better examples please mention them in the comments below.
And then there’s this, which is just a foot shy from being the poster we need right now.
Though this—a poster for the 2017 Korean short film Two Rays of Light—is more like it.
And since I started with Tarkovsky, why not end with this Russian poster for The Sacrifice which perhaps expresses how we’re all feeling these days?
Stay safe everyone. And stay six feet apart.