Proxemics: an exploration through movie poster texts


My local multiplex cinema used to sell out-of-date movie posters for two or three dollars, and each school holidays I would search for something interesting to brighten classroom walls. Imagine my pleasure when I dropped in to select new posters and found they are now free! these two posters have been placed side-by-side on the wall and work beautifully to introduce students to the notion of proxemics, or the study of how space is used to provide information about people and characters.

Ask students to identify different aspects of these visual texts, such as

identify and describe

By discussing these points, students may well have made shrewd analytical decisions:

  • the individuals shown on The Railway Man poster suggest an isolation, even though they appear to know each other
  • this is reinforced by the sole young man beneath the title who looks directly at the camera – he is in uniform and backgrounded by two contrasting landscape images: the jungle opposing a railway
  • the individuals shown on the Philomena poster signal closeness, friendship and agreement
  • this is reinforced by each comfortably clasping their hands together in their laps – overshadowed by the title

Both movies are based on true stories of people overcoming traumatic experiences. Overall, both posters show similarities in composition yet reveal a different perspective of how people respect and support each other through times of crisis.

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