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The Maltese Falcon

I vascillated for several hours on which film to choose for this project. The Birds, Rear Window, The Wizard of Oz and so many others seemed like they were ripe with potential. I finally landed on The Maltese Falcon as it was one of the first classic films I remembered truly appreciating in my teens. It also possesses a remarkable visual style that has stuck with me for a long time. But what finally made it the obvious choice for this project was the simple fact that the entire story of the film is wrapped around the pursuit of a single, seemingly unattainable object that corrupts all who encounter it.

For those who have not seen the film, Detective Sam Spade becomes embroiled in the pursuit of a treasure known as the Maltese Falcon which is said to contain treasures unimaginable and be worth a vast fortune. Spade watches as the group with whom he both fights and provides assistance to double cross each other in pursuit of the falcon. It is a tale of morality and corruption told in a bold visual style and features some truly top notch performances, most notbly, the great Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade.

I began playing with images and learned quickly that the bird itself needed to be the focal point of the poster. Whatever decisions were made (font, colors, action, etc.) the bird would play the central role of the poster just as it does in the film. While playing with the image of the bird, I realized that a solid block for the bird image would be the most striking way to go and while playing with its' size and color, a small red eye and eyebrow were added for dramatic effect. 

The font needed to be simple and bold, but I wanted it to have clarity. So, I used a red font to accent the eye collr of the falcon and then outlined the red text with a white stroke to help it jump from the page. The small "THE" that appears is done in white to allow for it to be included, but to diminish it's import to the design and where the readers eye might go. 

By placing the bird in the right half of the image and running the word "MALTESE" down the side vertically on the left draws the viewre's eye first to the bird and then to the text. The word "FALCON" is not only shadowed (as is the bird itself) but the text is put on an angle to give it the appearance of flight and meets with the falcon's talons to give the impression that the bird is flying away with it in much the same way it steals the morality of those who pursue it.

Finally, I added the tag line "The stuff that dreams are made of . . . " as a nod to those that have seen the film and know the final scene. For those who have not seen it, this line provides a teaser of sorts that welcomes them in to this world.

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