Oh no! I have been so caught out. Where’s the time that I need to calm down and formulate a response to all the visual goodness that has come our way? I haven’t even been able to reply to all the comments on recent posts, nor on the e-mail support I have received bts, nor have I been able to get the auction preparations done. Richard – you are to blame. Can you tone your Daniel Miller/Hot Dad hotness down a little bit please?
Actually, don’t. It’s quite alright…
So, in order to be topical, I am “re-grouping”. That Berlin Station ensemble trailer is just fantastic. And while I am unfortunately neither knowledgable nor bothered enough to gif the scene for your or my pleasure (plenty of other gifted giffers have already done the dead), I might just take a look at the imagery that has just been released to back up the trailers. Here is an *ooof* of sorts, my submission for Day 4 of Armitage Week.
It’s been a while since I have written one of those, so I am a bit rusty. Bear with me.
A new promo image-cum-graphics courtesy of Epix. Undercover CIA agent Daniel Miller reports for duty. Well, or rather: is given the quick intro. We have Daniel Miller all formal in coat, tie and white shirt. The classic “man in black” get-up.
If you are thinking “Blues Brothers”, you are in the wrong film, guys! Miller looks straight into the camera with his body turned away at a slight angle, (his) right shoulder forward. Not only is this a half-length portrait, but due to the graphic design the lower part of Miller’s torso is obscured by the lettering as well as by a fading effect. Behind Miller is a rough brick wall that appears in b/w while Miller himself is pictured in colour.
With his collar secretively pulled up, Miller already conforms to the stereotype. (Is there a reason why spies always hide their necks? Unsightly thyroid problems? Or is there an internal memo that field agents are obliged to wear their coat collars up. Cf. also corresponding image of field agent Hector deJean HERE) But the poster is trying to keep interpretations open for us. Instead of showing Miller in a pose that signals secrecy and surreptitiousness (again, cf. deJean), he is not fully turned away from the camera. And his face, the most important part of this image, is captured straight-on – which suggests a certain openness and honesty, underlined by the wide-open gaze suggests the subject has no need to hide anything.
Armitage, I would argue, is perfectly suited for the role of a spy. No, that is not just fangirl bias. I am also basing that on the often-mentioned mystery of his facial expressions. This picture – to me – is a case in point with the ambiguous facial expression. Miller does not smile as such. His mouth is a straight line, no smile playing on those
spylicious lips. His eyes, however, tell a slightly different story. Ambiguity reigns when it comes to those blue peepers. I see the merest hint of a smile, particularly when I obscure the lower half of his face. Do the test and place your fingers across his face – it’s not an aggressive gaze, nor is it secretive; it almost feels like a smile. Perfect for a spy whose attitude is carefully hidden behind a mask.
And thus Miller remains a mystery – especially when combined with the text that has been superimposed on the image. His job: uncover the station’s secrets. His skill: deception. The main tool of a spy, one could argue. And yet deception works all ways – what is *he* hiding while he is trying to uncover other people’s secrets???
On the graphics used in this design – ok, the fangirl in me is not happy. Of course not – anything that obscures any part of my favourite actor is to be rejected. Aesthetics are a tricky subject. Whether they appeal or not, is often based on personal associations and preferences. My spontaneous verdict is that I am not mad about the graphic design. There is something about the italic bold font used for “Daniel Miller” that screams “Grand Theft Auto” to me. Not that the font looks anything like GTA, but this italic looks as if it is missing a few exhaust fumes behind the “R”. Moreover, I notice that this is not the same font as the one used for the main BS poster, and neither is the smaller writing underneath. I can only assume that the decisions were deliberate – although I wonder why the designers did not go for an organic, uniform look in their promo designs.
Finally, the background – the rough brick wall, I wonder why the brick imagery keeps making a comeback in the Berlin Station design. This may be my “insider knowledge” as someone who is familiar with Berlin, but brick walls are not all *that* ubiquitous in Berlin that you would associate it with the city. Ok, they connote roughness, destruction, imperfection, edginess, possibly non-conformity by way of associating run-down squats that Berlin hipsters may be living in. Maybe that is a hint that I cannot yet place in any context, apart from assuming from previous trailers that show Miller antics on Berlin rooftops and dodgy corners. But I don’t quite get why brick walls are so integral to Berlin/Station that they continue to pop up in the promo imagery. It may all be a mere aesthetic choice – because “texture” is a way of creating focal points on different layers of a composite image – but in that case the choice of background picture is not ideal due to the irregularities in the wall structure (different brick textures, protruding wall remains).
I do not particularly like that the brickwork is obviously a b/w image while the subject in the foreground is in colour. Don’t get me wrong – I love b/w. But I abhor b/w vs colour contrasts in a composite image. It’s a fad that has long passed, and personally, I just find it pointless when it doesn’t carry any clear meaning. Moreover, it does not mirror reality – we cannot selectively see b/w and colour at the same time. But ok, could be an artistic device.
What’s most distracting for a pedantic picture viewer like me, however, is the obvious lighting on the subject that does not match the lighting of the background image. Miller is illuminated from above front right (our POV), as well as lit from slightly behind and to the left and right of the sitter (indicated by some of the highlights on his cheeks, just above the stubble). Yes, it nicely illuminates every part of his face – but it does not match the blasted background *at all*. That is a total pet hate of mine – when it is more than obvious that background and foreground are two completely independent images that were produced separately. It simply does not convince me – it distracts.
But this wouldn’t be an *ooof* if I didn’t like the image deep deep down in the farthest corners of my soul. Of course it appeals – it has been composed in a deliberate way that becomes clear when you add a few helping lines in the image. Note how Daniel’s right eye has been placed pretty much exactly on the exact vertical middle of the picture (thin red line). Hardly a coincidence.When checking “the rule of thirds”, the head of the subject is in the mid section of the top three squares – a pleasing composition in a square-format image. Likewise, the main text – the subject’s name – is exactly on the lower third line. This allows the image of the sitter to take up two-thirds of the total size of the image, with the text sitting in the lower third. Textbook! It doesn’t work quite perfect when looking at the verticals – but even despite the angled shoulders the body of the subject sits still pretty much in the middle of the image. Thus, the subject is bang in the middle of the image – and our in-built sense of symmetry loves that kind of composition. It is balanced and calming – an attempt by the image makers to influence our perception of the subject??? My only gripe in terms of composition comes from the backdrop whose vertical lines do not correspond with the rule of thirds. (But admittedly, one could argue that rules are there to be broken – and to add a bit of unexpected tension into an otherwise fairly symmetrical
= boring??? composition.)
With all my niggles re. the somewhat unrealistic black brick backdrop, the dark tones provide a backdrop from which the face of Miller really stands out. Armitage’s eyes are like magnets, drawing my gaze and my curiosity. The hint of pout on the line of the closed mouth create a tension between soft emotionality and ascetic performance of duty. Who is this man? Is he a good guy or a bad boy?
And let’s face it – I’m attracted to either alternative. Oh, I can already see how Danny Boy will be a master manipulator, a persuasive seducer of women and a relentless pursuer of suspects…The mixture of assertive and open, the ambiguity of the expression makes for a titillating gazing experience. And leaves plenty of opportunity for imagining what Daniel Miller will be like, especially when he is not involved in “deception” but in “sexual intrigue” *bows to Michelle Forbes* :-D. What is it in Daniel’s dark past that may compromise him???
sexually intrigued, indeed. Pedantic niggles with fonts and textured backgrounds aside, I mostly like what Epix has produced so far. This character promo certainly appeals to me more than the official poster of the series that imo obscures Miller’s face with the brickwork texture. Don’t tell my photographer friends, but the real gem is the ensemble trailer that merely uses lighting effects to create the eerie, suspicious feel of danger and intrigue that a spy show embodies.
So simple and yet so effective – darkness and light, connotations of interrogation lamps, dark corners and the flicker of searchlights. This is a real gem. Intrigued indeed.