Design for Communication : Visual Analysis "Beverly Hills Cop"
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
The poster for the Eddie Murphy's 1984 breakout action comedy movie, is at a glance quite simple. A single photograph of the protagonist with a muted color palette framed in black, minimal sans-serif text at the top drawing attention to the rising star's name, and a stylized typeface of the movie's title at the bottom all of this centrally aligned. A closer look reveals some interesting properties. By applying grids to the poster, it becomes clear that although the elements are all aligned centrally there is a sense of flow accomplished through the use of dynamic asymmetry. With the viewer's eyes moving from the character's eyes, to the gun, his foot, and finally landing on the movie title block. This movement places the focus on the protagonist who is dressed in dark cool colors which are juxtaposed against the deep red of the car. The colors and style of dress of the character are typical of the American working or middle-class which is time often associated as lazy or unsophisticated this is juxtaposed against deep red of the car hood which indicates wealth, class, and action. This idea of wealth is further supported by the inclusion of the Mercedes logo on the car, a brand that at the time was commonly associated with these ideas. Other symbolic elements include the firearm a near universal indicator of action or violence the placement of which would suggest the protagonist has a tendency to act "outside" what is expected. The placement of the subjects leg adds to this sense of "outsider-ness", but is even more powerful when taken in context with the title block being under-foot showing that the character is in a position of power or control over the titular local Beverly Hills. The final element that the viewers eyes rest on, other than the film industry standard bumper text, is the movie title itself. The typeface of "Beverly Hills" being large block text conveying an air of rigidness and structure is placed in opposition to a red textured script of "Cop" which feels fluid and improvised. Its color nearly matching that of the car, but when combined with the imagery of the gun and splatter texture there is additional and possibly dubious added meaning. These elements and structures when all combined give the viewer strong visual clues as to the style and general plot of the movie, even in those cases when those viewers are not aware of the meta-imagery and connotation of the actor who is primarily featured.