Joshua Reviews Erik Sharkey’s Drew: The Man Behind The Poster [Theatrical Review]


While most legendary film icons are seen either in front of or behind the camera, there are occasionally a few that break that mold. Be them producers, studio executives, writers or composers, occasionally people stand up and start paying attention to those other men and women who have changed the film world forever.

But then there is one person who has become best known for his true blue artwork.

Inarguably the most iconic poster artist of his time (ranking right there with Saul Bass for all time), Drew Struzan has become synonymous with the type of breathtaking pieces of artwork now seemingly relegated to the world of Mondo prints and the occasional studio rarity (basically whenever an artist like Neil Kellerhouse gets a hold of a film). And now, he’s the focus of a brand new documentary.

Entitled Drew: The Man Behind The Poster, the film is helmed by Erik Sharkey, and ostensibly follows the life and career of the legendary artist. Digging into his personal life outside of the art world while structuring the film around the discussion of his art with a focus on a handful of singular properities (his posters for Star Wars, Indiana Jones and The Thing all get their own spotlight), the film is a really fun and entertaining look into one of this era’s most influential artists.

Struzan, for better and worse, is a calm and collected artist, whose calm demeanor may be an insight into just how easygoing all of his artwork seems to be to him. The most intriguing aspects here are truly the film’s discussions of his actual artwork, getting various actors, directors and producers who have worked with him before to wax poetic about just how amazing this man’s work truly is. These moments also offer an insight into just how bleak today’s film art landscape is as well.

In a day where this type of hand painted poster comes around every other blue moon, instead finding studios opt for Photo Shop and floating heads looking off in opposite directions (just look on any film news website, you’ll see at least six). These interviews may be your standard talking head type discussions, but what they do ultimately help in creating is a level of depth and inherent nostalgia which both are found within this man and his artwork.

As said during the film, Struzan’s artwork’s great attribute outside of its inherent beauty, is its ability to instill within the viewer an inherent sense of nostalgia for a project that one hasn’t even seen yet. There is a warmth and depth to his work that is justifiably proclaimed from this film’s mountain top by every single person who crops up in this documentary. Struzan himself isn’t a great central character, as his cool exterior makes for a rather monotone central figure, but the film itself succeeds in that it doesn’t entirely focus on him through his own eyes.  It’s a tad over the top in how the film ostensibly deifies Struzan, and the final sequence set during Comic Con is nearly unwatchable in how cartoonish the film ultimately becomes.

Overall, while the film is truly long in the teeth and Struzan himself doesn’t make for the most charismatic watch, any film fan with a modicum of appreciation for a world of true artistic poster art, this is as interesting a documentary as you’ll see this year. It’s a glossy overview of one of today’s biggest film art legends, and while it may be a bit unbearable come the film’s final “act,” it’s an engaging watch that will leave a smile on your face long after it is over.

Joshua Brunsting

Josh is a critic, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, a wrestling nerd, a hip-hop head, a father, a cinephile and a man looking to make his stamp on the world, one word at a time.

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