The Lobster received its premiere at Cannes today, but even before the film was screened social media was abuzz with admiration for the two posters that support the feature. We spoke their creator, Greek designer Vasilis Marmatakis...
Yorgos Lanthimos' latest film, his first English language feature, is a strange tale indeed. The plot goes something like this: In a not too-distant future, adults who are single must check into a special hotel in order to find a suitable partner. They have 45 days within which to do so – if they do not find somebody, they are turned into an animal (they get to choose which kind) and released into a forest.
As Richard Lawson says in his review of the film, posted on Vanity Fair earlier today – "If Charlie Kauffman, Miranda July, and Wes Anderson went into the woods together and all had the same vision quest hallucination, it might look something like The Lobster" – the kind of quote that may well end up on one of these posters further down the line.
For such an unusual film you might well expect some unusual visuals tto promote. And that is exactly what we've got – Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, moodily photographed in black and white, embracing ... what exactly? Well, negative space by the looks of it, a kind of person-shaped void that perhaps points to the relationships at the heart of the story.
Athens-based Vasilis Marmatakis has previously worked with director Lathimos on poster designs and titles for his films Dogtooth (with his previous studio MNP) and Alps. "For The Lobster, I had read the script before filming, that's the same process with the previous films," says Marmatakis. "Since I couldn't visit the set in Ireland, I went through all the photographs shot by Despina Spyrou during filming. I had already started working on some ideas and then, later on, I saw the first cut of the film with Yorgos and Efthimis Filippou, the co-screenwriter."
Marmatakis says that having gone through numerous sketches and try-outs, a series of five posters were originally made, which were eventually cut down to two.
"The main aim on all the posters was to graphically visualise 'solitude' in opposition with the need to be 'with' someone, and the implications that such notions convey," he says. "On the two posters, Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz embrace someone. The other person might not even be there. During that action of embrace, they might be disappearing, too. I tried to visually imply 'incompleteness'; the feeling of void and the resulting agony."
To convey all of that with such minimal means – not to mention within a format that is so often beholden to convention – is surely something to celebrate. Let's hope that when the film comes to the UK in October, these brilliant posters come with it.
A brief interview with MNP studio, which features their poster for Dogtooth, is on the Eye blog, here. The Lobster is released in the UK in October, distributed by Picturehouse Entertainment. It is co-financed by Film4 and co-produced by Element Pictures, Scarlet Films and Limp.