Movie Art: Rabbit Hole

Earlier this week, the Internet Movie Poster Awards recognized the one-sheet for John Cameron Mitchell’s adaptation of Rabbit Hole as the Best Movie Poster of 2010. It’s the one on the left, and it’s hard to argue with the choice. It’s subtle and powerful, with a clean font, a decent tagline, and an array of images that could be dubbed the Stations of Grief — not quite the 12 Steps, but close enough. Particularly appealing is how, while the majority of the poster is given to Nicole Kidman (she’s the bigger star after all), Aaron Eckhart is given a fair amount of representation with them coming together in some state of happiness in the middle. It’s a beautiful visual representation of a film about parents coping with the loss of a child and the strains, breakdowns, acceptances, and rebirths that go with it.

But for as close to perfect the poster on the left is, the one on the right is that far from it. The poster on the right is an earlier attempt at a one-sheet for Rabbit Hole, and, boy, did they miss. It’s obvious and as subtle as a jackhammer to the face. The title treatment is boring and derivative. It’s a wasteful use of space, and the tire swing visual metaphor, while noble, is easy, laughable, embarrassing. And what about the tagline? “Love will get you through”? Oh! Because it’s Rabbit HOLE! Clever…

The first time I saw the poster on the right it came in a PR email for the film. Acquainted as I am with the Mitchell’s films (Hedwig and the Angry InchShortbus) and knowing how well executed the one-sheets were for them, I was taken aback by the shoddy work staring out from my inbox. Lionsgate was going to have a hard enough time pitching this movie, and that first attempt wasn’t going to do anyone any favors. Fortunately someone saw how big of a problem that earlier poster was and rethought the approach. I’m glad they did — not only did Mitchell and his film get the poster they deserved, but the world was given a great piece of poster art.

The company that designed both Rabbit Hole one-sheets is Ignition Print, which I see is also responsible for the excellent poster art for the remake of The Mechanic. Can they do something about that film’s tagline, though? “Someone has to fix the problems”? Groan. It would be interesting to learn the production history of the Rabbit Hole poster, though, if anyone from Ignition Print happens to stumble upon this post and would care to throw their two cents in…