A Design Analysis of the Inception Movie Poster

For our first assignment in Visual Language, I chose to analyze the movie poster to Inception. This movie is one of my favorites, but I never took the time to realize how well the poster is designed until this class.

Inception Movie Poster

Right off the bat, you notice the strict lines that the buildings and road dividers create. The strict adherence to a grid system brings order to the unnatural chaos in the background. Although there is a lot going on in this poster, the graphic design leverages the grid system to make the text clear and legible.

Inception Grid System

Notice as well how the grid system brings focus to the characters in the foreground.

The horizontal lines focus in on Leonardo DiCaprio. We clearly see that this man is the main character in this story. Leo Focused

Watanabe focus

The same horizontal line that brings focus to Leonardo DiCaprio also cuts through Ken Watanabe, suggesting that this character plays an important secondary role in this movie. It’s really cool how much information is portrayed in this poster by the grid system alone.

This movie poster uses one typeface in two different colors. The sizes vary to clearly indicate a hierarchy of information: from movie title, to main actor, to supporting actors. It also cleverly leverages the boldness of the font to indicate that the movie is “from the director of The Dark Knight.”

Inception color palette

Visually, the movie poster is dominated by a dark blue. The viewer immediately gets a sense that this is a serious, possibly somber, movie. A dark green is sprinkled in the trees and the windows of the buildings to further create this illusion. White is sparingly used, and a blood red makes the title pop.

Overall, this movie poster is very well designed. Although there is a lot to see in this poster, it utilizes basic graphic design principles very well to create a clear scene for the viewer. It also leverages color very well to create a specific mood that follows through in the movie. Makes me want to watch the movie again!

Graphic overlay