An Archive of 20,000 Movie Posters from Czechoslovakia (1930–1989)

We could­n’t pos­si­bly ignore, here at Open Cul­ture, the glo­ry of movie posters: from the film noir era, from Mar­tin Scors­ese’s pre­dictably siz­able col­lec­tion, and even the deeply askew inter­pre­ta­tions seen out­side the the­aters of Ghana. But some­how, the visu­al art-inclined cinephile’s atten­tion returns again and again to one region of the world: East­ern Europe, espe­cial­ly in the Cold War era. Poland’s movie posters have long since accrued a fan­dom around the world, but we should­n’t neglect the equal pro­mo­tion­al won­ders of its neigh­bor­ing Czecho­slo­va­kia.

Or rather, as the even mild­ly geo­graph­i­cal­ly astute will note, the neigh­bor­ing Czech Repub­lic and Slo­va­kia. But in this case, we real­ly do mean Czecho­slo­va­kia, the movie posters fea­tured here hav­ing hung in its movie hous­es between 1930 and 1989.

Ter­ry Posters offers a col­lec­tion of more than 20,000 such works of cap­ti­vat­ing com­mer­cial art to browse (with some avail­able to buy), most of them inter­pret­ing for­eign motion pic­tures for the pre­sumed sen­si­bil­i­ties of the local audi­ence: the films of  auteurs like Alfred Hitch­cock, Aki­ra Kuro­sawaAndrei Tarkovsky (then, of course, a fel­low Sovi­et), Fed­eri­co Felli­ni, and many more besides.

You can also browse Ter­ry’s Czecho­slo­va­kian col­lec­tion by year, by artist, by genre, by actor, and by the film’s coun­try of ori­gin. How­ev­er you explore them, these posters offer a reminder of the way that cin­e­ma cul­ture used to vary most stark­ly from region to region, even when deal­ing with the exact same movies. The “glob­al­iza­tion” process in effect over the past thir­ty years has done much to make seri­ous cinephil­ia pos­si­ble every­where (not least by defeat­ing var­i­ous once-for­mi­da­ble forms of cen­sor­ship and sup­pres­sion) but it may have brought an end to the mul­ti­plic­i­ty and vari­ety of images on dis­play here, all espe­cial­ly vivid pieces of a fad­ed cul­ture — and of a dis­man­tled coun­try. Enter the dig­i­tal archive here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

40,000 Film Posters in a Won­der­ful­ly Eclec­tic Archive: Ital­ian Tarkovsky Posters, Japan­ese Orson Welles, Czech Woody Allen & Much More

10,000 Clas­sic Movie Posters Get­ting Dig­i­tized & Put Online by the Har­ry Ran­som Cen­ter at UT-Austin: Free to Browse & Down­load

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

The Strange and Won­der­ful Movie Posters from Ghana: The Matrix, Alien & More

Design­er Reimag­ines Icon­ic Movie Posters With Min­i­mal­ist Designs: Reser­voir Dogs, The Matrix & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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