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This poster is from the movie titled American history X which was released in the year 1998.

The French wording on top of the movie title indicates that this poster could have been released in France. After performing a quick web search,

the source of the message can be traced to John Morrissey (The Producer) from New Line Cinema, part of Hollywood. The target audience for this movie could be the people who believe/hate acts of racism and those who have been victim to racist attacks. It also targets the politicians, government, and common people making them aware of the issues that surround the society as well as fans of Edward Norton and Edward Furlong the lead actors in this movie. The purpose of this poster and title of the movie can be viewed as driving content towards political and cultural aspects. From the political context this movie poster can be viewed as highlighting the Nazism way of life or racial discrimination in the USA. Considering the year 1998 when this movie was released, there were cases of racial violence in USA, one of the most brutal racial killings that took place in 1998 is still remembered as the Jasper killing and the trial for this case was death sentence for the defendants. Racism is treated as a serious political issue and there have been laws put in place to stop racist acts from occurring. Headlines on racial killings in year 1998 in US James Byrd, Jr. African American murdered by 3 white men, Byrd was dragged behind a pick up truck on the asphalt road June 7, 1998 Racially motivate murders by two men in Las Vegas. defendants were affiliated or associated with racist neo-Nazi skinhead groups, also known as Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP)

Statistical Evidence of racial deaths in USA (1998)

The cultural shock that history has evidenced makes it very difficult for todays generation to relate to the difficult times and how much effort it took to overcome racial turmoil. The purpose of the movie seems to take a clearer shape when taking these happenings into consideration. The movie tries to bring these problems to the forefront and share it with the wider audience. Looking at the poster the focus goes to the name of the movie in bold letters AMERICAN HISTORY X between two thick parallel horizontal lines. The detailed elements in the poster can be understood by splitting it in to two halves; panning from left to right the various elements come to attention. Starting from left side, the big unconventional black and white American flag is seen where the stars are represented as crosses signifying the X prominently. The flag is in the upright position giving the appearance of waving in the air; it extends from the left side over to the right where it is light and transparent. The name of the movie can be seen elaborated in the graphic used in the poster with American flag representing American, black and white flag representing History and crosses on the flag representing X. Right underneath the flag there is some text in French deux frres unis par la haine dechires par la verite (in English: two

brothers united by hatred torn by truth). The other half of the poster starts with a thick red vertical line followed by two bald young men. Light is directly shining on the face of the subject in foreground (Edward Norton) with a beard and the other subject (Edward Furlong) is in the background, which is slightly blurred. The subject in foreground is slightly older looking, facing back, wearing a vest and has tattoos on his right arm, which starts with an eagle. Underneath the eagle, there is text WHITE POWER in bold letters, and below that is a tattoo of barbed wire. In the background there is another man who is clean-shaven and wearing a white vest with an open black shirt on top of it. His head is slightly tilted towards his left, arms folded and a watch on his right hand. Two thick vertical lines running parallel to each other divide the poster; the one on the left is coloured black while the line on the right is coloured red. The names of the actors are in capital letters with EDWARD NORTON on the top left and EDWARD FURLONG on the top right of the movie poster. At the bottom of the poster there is some text in red font and beneath that are a few logos relating to the details of the production house. The poster composition is done really well as it brings out the dark meaning quite proficiently. The lighting is dim and there is not too much colour in the composition, there are patches of black and white and a faint line of red colour. Characters have been given distinct identity by the clothes they are wearing. One is in a white vest while the other is wearing a vest and a black t-shirt. The body language of the subjects signifies great meaning; the subject in the foreground is standing tall with broad shoulders and almost in an action pose with folded hands, while the subject in the background is leaning on a wall with arms folded and relaxed. Eye movement of the subject in foreground is away from the

audience and towards the light, almost in the action of looking back at someone/something with anger. The subject in the background is looking straight at the audience with a casual attitude. Few colors that distinctly stand out in the poster are white, black and red.

Interpretation - The frame of this poster has been divided such that the left side of the frame has an American flag, which appears to be cut by the thick transparent black line while the right side has the actors. The encoding of the American flag has been done to embed a meaning for the spectator, who is forced into thinking that this movie is set in America or its about Americans. The text between the flag and movie title is in French deux frres unis par la haine dechires par la verite (in English: two brothers united by hatred torn by truth) which leads to the imagination that the movie is about two brothers and their relationship. The right side of the poster starts with a thick vertical red line, the actors of the movie can be seen in this half, which leads the spectator to imagine that they are the brothers who are being acknowledged in the French caption. The body language of the person in the front shows that he is looking over his shoulder to see if he is in pursuit or if another pursuit is going on.( body language of the character in the background, with arms folded across his chest suggests that he is putting a barrier between himself and someone or something he doesnt

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The encoding of message by compartmentalising it in two halves gives a belligerent, combative, and antagonistic meaning to the poster. The frame invites the spectator to take a second glance at the poster and decode the embedded message. The framing of the two halves of the poster is running vertically. The two frames are in close conjunction and derive meaning from each another. In the right frame the subject in foreground, due to its size, gives impression of being closest to the audience, after which the flag comes into the visual hierarchy, and then the subject in the background, gives an impression of being further away, because of the blur effect. This creates a sense of visual hierarchy and depth in spectators mind. Thick vertical and horizontal lines depicted in the image add meaning to the poster. Thick vertical lines can be interpreted as being filled with potential energy that could be released if they were to fall over. Vertical lines are strong and rigid and suggest stability, especially when thicker. Thick Horizontal lines containing name of the movie American history X can be interpreted as being stable and secure. They also convey an absence of conflict or a peaceful situation. Comparing and contrasting the meaning of thick vertical and horizontal lines the sender has encoded the message for the spectator to interpret. The colours in this poster are mostly black, white and red. BLACK: colour of depth, evil, sadness, remorse, anger and void. WHITE: colour of youth, cold, and purity. RED: colour of blood, energy and fire. Colours in this poster lead the

spectator to interpret the title as well as the French description of bitterness between brothers, and sync these elements into one common message of the movie. The poster could have various levels of significance for the intended audience.

From a historical context the Nazi tattoo on Edward Nortons arm represents his beliefs in the movement started by the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The movement was termed as Nazism, which adopted anti-semantic beliefs against Jews, minorities, physically and mentally disabled, and blacks. With a philosophy that Aryan race was superior to all other races Hitler carried out genocides and holocaust by starving them to death, experimenting on their bodies and using chemicals in the concentration camps. Although many years have passed since the brutal authoritarian rule of Adolf Hitler, the signs of racism and hate are still prevalent in the 21st century. Working on the same principles as Nazism organizations like the Nationalist Socialist Movement (NSM) also known as the American Nazi Party are brain washing the youth and teaching them hatred and racial discrimination, which in turn is leading to violence targeted towards minorities. To draw inter textual reference along the lines of Nazism and racial discrimination, movies have been made in the past depicting struggle during the second world war and cruelties of Adolf Hitler. I was able to locate a list of 33 movies that have been made along the same lines in the movie industry, which can be seen by visiting IMDB ( The

specific genre that these movies are classified under is Nazi movies. There are also various books such as Fatherland by Robert Harris, Main Kampf by Adolf Hitler, Stalingrad: The fateful siege by Antony Beevor. (full list: There are both positive and negative assumptions that have been drawn in light of racial discrimination. The positive assumption is on lines of avoiding the practice of racial discrimination and eliminating it entirely from society. People who are aware of the harmful effects of discrimination do not practice such acts and refrain from making fun of minorities. The negative assumption would be to take someone for granted and make fun of the person/group based on some preconceived notions and stereotypes. The outcome of negative assumptions can be quite devastating sometimes as the practitioner of these can resent to violence and cause harm to someone. The decision to place elements of historical significance such as the tattoo, the American flag, colours (black, white, and red), the French wording and also the dim lighting, leads to an evaluation that this movie is based on capturing the historical essence and is interested in creating an image of the movie being violent and bloody. Looking at all the elements in the poster there is meaning in the way these have been depicted by the visualization team (the source/sender) of this movie. Since the mode of representation is a poster, there needs to be a sense of meaning in the positioning of all the elements. The sender of the message has to keep in mind the receivers field of experience and encode the message in such a way that there is a common meeting point between both the senders and receivers field of experience for the message to be understood. The decoding of the message can

be interpreted in various ways depending on the audiences (receivers) field of experience. The encoding of the work in my opinion is not very easy as there needs to be an element of pre knowledge to decode the images on the poster. The visual team has done a great job in making the purpose of their poster very clear by placing the Nazi tattoo on the arm, adding black, white and red colours in the image to give it the right amount of depth. I like the aesthetics of the imagery in the poster. This is because there is not too much clutter and the spacing of the elements is just right to decode the meaning that each element carries. When I started writing about the visual work there was certainly some information that I had from before that helped me make more sense of the poster. As I started researching, I could decode it in depth and add more meaning to each visual and character in the poster.