50 Film Posters From Poland: From The Empire Strikes Back to Raiders of the Lost Ark


We do not, alas, live in the gold­en age of Amer­i­can movie poster design. Some Unit­ed States inde­pen­dent films (and espe­cial­ly their Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion DVD releas­es, if they get them) still fly under the ban­ner of strik­ing imagery designed by dar­ing artists and graph­ic design­ers, but for main­stream Hol­ly­wood pic­tures, the thrill has def­i­nite­ly gone. Even when their most icon­ic posters of decades past show­case admirable crafts­man­ship, they often lack a cer­tain artis­tic zing. Every Indi­ana Jones fan, for instance, has a spe­cial place in their heart for Raiders of the Lost Ark’s clas­sic poster, but even the sternest Indy purist would have to admit that one of the film’s Pol­ish posters, shown above, imme­di­ate­ly com­mu­ni­cates some­thing the orig­i­nal, near-pho­to­re­al­is­tic image does­n’t. You can see anoth­er Pol­ish ren­di­tion of Raiders, one that con­veys even more ful­ly the unex­pect­ed inten­si­ty of Har­ri­son Ford’s all-Amer­i­can hero archae­ol­o­gist, in this col­lec­tion fifty Pol­ish film posters from wellmed­icat­ed.

herzog polish

Fol­low­ers of many vari­eties of visu­al art, espe­cial­ly ani­ma­tion, know that Poland has a rich visu­al tra­di­tion indeed. Exe­cut­ed by the hand of a Pol­ish artist, ideas that would seem non­sen­si­cal or ridicu­lous any­where else in the world sud­den­ly make sense. Just above we have the Pol­ish poster adver­tis­ing Stroszek by Wern­er Her­zog, whose movies, based on his own inex­plic­a­ble but some­how sat­is­fy­ing ideas of “ecsta­t­ic truth,” per­haps mer­it Pol­ish posters more than any­one else’s. Just below, we see what Pol­ish view­ers saw when they lined up to buy tick­ets for Star Wars’ sequel The Empire Strikes Back. Maybe it strikes you as heresy to accept any­thing but Drew Struzan’s hardy, Darth Vad­er-cen­tric, explo­sion-laden orig­i­nal, but this one urges me to think about the entire­ty of Star Wars’ project in a whole new — or at least new­ly askew — way. The oth­er coun­try which has long led the way with inter­est­ing home­grown posters for Amer­i­can movies? Ghana.

via @sheerly


Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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