running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Integrating Inherent Vice

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Way back in July 2009, in a post entitled 'Surf's Up for a Postmodern Giant', I took a look at the book cover for Thomas Pynchon's acclaimed novel 'Inherent Vice', which had just been published. The artwork featured neon typography and an illustration by Darshan Zenith. Now, almost six years later, the director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood) has made a movie of the novel. It features an ensemble cast including Joaquin Phoenix, Reece Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro and Katherine Waterston, and has already garnered a number of glowing reviews for its 'psychedelic noir' portrayal of L.A during the earliest days of the 1970s. Anderson's recent interview with film critic Mark Kermode gives a good insight into the movie and the creative challenge it presented.

What's particularly pleasing, as a big fan of both the writer and the film director, is how the visuals to promote the film are a beautiful and seamless extension of the original book cover design.  The campaign by BLT, an agency specialising in cinema campaigns, has built everything around the neon-stroked typography from the original cover, and this has worked across all channels.

The main poster is designed by Dustin Stanton, who also worked with Paul Thomas Anderson on 'The Master (2012). The supporting visuals include personalised posters for the main characters, a 'last supper' parody of the full cast, a brilliant 12" record cover for the soundtrack (composed by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood), a clever website, and a killer trailer which blends the type treatment into the credits.