Reading Image and Representation

We were given a lecture reading images and how they can represent certain characters.

  • How can all aspects of visual design convey meanings about characters and identities?
  • What attitudes towards characters are generated? How does the spectator perceive them?

We therefore looked at two James Bond posters; one from the 1960s and the other from the 1980s and within them we had to depict the visual elements of the poster and look at how masculinity and femininity are conveyed.

Poster 1: 1960s

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As we can see with this poster James Bond is dressed in a tuxedo leaning forward holding a rather large, smoking gun in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The tuxedo itself holds many connotations that he is in a state of power and gives the impression that he is financially stable. The smoking gun implies that he has killed someone recently and his body language indicates he is relaxed and confident suggesting that it is an act that does not phase him, therefore there is an aura of danger and mystery surrounding him.

However, when we look behind Bond we can see four women, three that are half dressed and portrayed in a sexual nature, the use of white and the lack of clothing indicates a sense of vulnerability. When we look at Bond in relation to the women, the audience can potentially perceive that he has slept with all three of them, alluding to the idea that he is irresistible, with the gun possibly symbolising his manhood? But the forth woman at the end is fully clothed and her body language is facing away from Bond indicating that she can resist his apparent charm, therefore creating an air of mystery around her. Yet there is still a high slit in the dress, still symbolising the sexual nature of women.

Overall, with this poster it is clear that the women are depicted as sexual objects and there is a clear lack of equality between the two genders. It is seen that Bond, the male, is in power and control and in a way gets what he wants whilst remaining calm and confident.

Poster 2: 1980s

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This is the second poster we viewed of a 1980s James Bond film starring Grace Jones. As it is instantly clear there is an obvious difference between the two. Here, Bond is wearing a white tuxedo and is standing openly in an action shot. From this we get a sense of unease and vulnerability on his behalf, he does not seem as confident or calm as in the first poster. We then see a female standing both behind and taller than Bond as if emerging or creeping. In this case she is holding the larger gun and is facing upwards, suggesting she is the one with the power. There is a masculinity attached to her and so she is not conveyed in a sexual manner. Furthermore her body language suggests that she is closed and therefore holds the aura of mystery.

This poster makes the viewer question James Bond’s ability and whether he is as skilled as previously anticipated, like in the previous poster. This thought is heightened by the slogan; ‘Has JAMES BOND met his match?’

Overall, this poster has begun to view women more equally to men, through clearly revealing that Grace Jones is the villain and is capable of defeating Bond; something that would not have been considered before. She is not simply viewed as a sexual object, but as a woman of power and a woman to be fearful of.

From this session I have learnt how all the elements of visual design can be built up to convey a character and therefore the designer has the power on how the spectator perceives the character. I feel that as well as understanding the key concepts of layout, hierarchy, and design itself, it is also key to understand psychology and how people perceive body language, facial expressions and emotions to ensure the correct message is being communicated. This is something I will look into further alongside my studies.

 

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Author: marislathamgraphics

I am a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University studying BA Hons Graphic Communication.

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