In a Word…

I took Yasujiro Ozu’s The Only Son out of the library and I’ve been looking a lot at the DVD artwork, designed by Adrian Tomine.

And I love it. Why?

First, it is very suited to the film and to Ozu’s style. Simple and elegant. I won’t go into how the imagery on the cover reflects the theme and imagery of the film, or how the illustration mimics Ozu’s famed camera set up, because though that’s interesting, it doesn’t really belong here.

Second, I’m a sucker for this style of illustration.

The Only Son doesn’t feature a recognizable star (to most Americans) to use on its DVD cover. Most documentaries could say the same thing. There’s no Leo or Angelina in it, no face that will sell it. In a way, this is liberating, at least when it comes to DVD art. I need to have a compelling image, an image that gives you some idea of what the film is about, but I don’t need to have an image of The Rock, say, brandishing a big gun. You see that, you know what you’re in for.

Which raises the question: what does the image need to convey?

This is a huge question, and if I needed to sum it up in one word… I couldn’t. But two words, yes. That I can do. Legacy and wonder.

Looking at The Only Son cover I thought of how to convey the latter. The wonder a child experiences when he hears the first song he falls in love with. The wonder a child experiences when she first learns that the stars in the night sky are like the sun she sees in the daytime. The wonder a child experiences as he watches heavy machinery at a construction site. The wonder a child experiences when he discovers he can tell how old a tree is by counting its rings.

So for A Life’s Work DVD cover I imagined an illustration featuring four children, one star-gazing, one climbing a tree, one listening to music, and one constructing a building out of toy blocks.

And what about legacy? Maybe that’s the back of cover.

What do you think?

2 Replies to “In a Word…”

  1. That sounds great, David.

    I really like Tomine’s work. And it makes me happy to see movie marketers using comic book artists, like Chris Ware doing the poster art for The Savages.

    1. Thanks, Ellen.

      There will always be a place for comic book artists (and activist artists who like comic books and comic book artists!) in my life.

      Nice to see you here. Hope you stop by again soon.


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