Finally got around to watching the documentary about the legendary movie poster artist Drew Struzan, Drew: The Man Behind the Poster, and was quite impressed with the film. The documentary interviews some of Hollywood’s biggest names – Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, George Lucas, Michael J. Fox, Frank Darabont, etc. – and all express great admiration and respect for Struzan’s work.
What is so amazing about the film, to me, is how completely humble Struzan is about his life’s work – he has no pretense, no ego… and yet his talent is obvious and undeniable.
The documentary steps through Struzan’s life, and showcases both highs (his cover art for Alice Cooper’s Welcome to my Nightmare, his posters for the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Back to the Future films) and lows (he was unloved and unwanted by his parents, and was cheated by business partners out of hundreds of thousands of dollars). Throughout is a portrait of an unassuming passionate artist who, when faced with the choice of buying paints for his work or having food to eat… he’d buy the paints.
We could learn a lot about passion and perseverance from Struzan’s story, though the film ends on a melancholy note… Movie posters are now the result of Photoshop work rather than paintings these days, and because of this (and the decision-by-committee process that now pervades Hollywood) Struzan has “retired” from doing any more work for the studios. A shame, because, as one interview subject states in the film, “When Drew creates a painting, it’s often more alive than the film is.”
Here’s the trailer: