Citizen Kane: Minimalist Movie Poster

Create a tv/movie poster that captures the essence of the story through the use of minimalist design/iconography (Minimalist TV/Movie Poster)

The concept for this design assignment came to mind immediately based on this scene from Citizen Kane (1941):


Cinematographer Gregg Toland pioneered a deep focus photography that enabled complex storytelling to be achieved in a single shot. In this part of the film, the parents of the young Charles Foster Kane are handing over supervison of the boy to a banker who will oversee his education and entry into a life of power and privilege using the proceeds from a gold mine found on the Kane property. It is a key scene on a number of levels. While the young Kane’s future is being discussed inside the house, we can see him playing happily outside oblivious of the new direction his life will take. Thus begins the problematic downside of his emotional impoverishment that will dog his use of power and wealth as an adult. Although we don’t know it at the time of this scene, Kane is also playing with the sled called ‘Rosebud’, Kane’s final word uttered before his death in the opening of the film and a mystery that drives the investigative plot. The sled, then, seen at the end of the film being destroyed deliberately as an unwanted and  lost possession of the dead Kane, is a powerful symbol of childhood contentment betrayed by parental insensitivity and (particularly a mother’s) ambition that we recall with new resonance from this earlier scene at the Kane home.

Therefore, the image of the boy Kane playing with Rosebud framed by the window is a good basis for creating an essential and minimalist motif for the film. The film still was imported into Paint and isolated by overpainting the rest of the image as background. The window motif was then copied into PowerPoint and arranged in portrait poster format with the window placed toward the top left of the poster creating a sense of some perspective depth. The font is Adobe Devanagari with serifs that hint at Kane’s position as a newspaper magnate. The title of the film was also placed along the vertical edge of the frame to also try to create a sense of depth and the font enlarged in the middle of the title to make it more figurative or architectural and to play around with the word ‘zen’ to associate kane with the idea of self-enlightenment. But, I decided that this was getting less and less minimalist and that the original colours chosen (light blue and sand) were inappropriately related to the beach:

citizen kane film postert

Other colourways were tried:

kane 3 ways

And moving the position of the text and getting rid of the mixed font sizes to create a sense of deep focus:

kane deep focus

In the minimalist spirit of ‘less is more’, the text was placed at the bottom and various colour combinations tried (using the ‘Format Picture’ Recolour tool):

kan 3 text bottom

So, this is the final version chosen (next to the original theatrical poster from 1941), but I no longer know which one is best, so you decide:

kane posters old and new



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