Monday, 5 December 2016

The strangeness of Polish posters for American films - were the illustrators actually allowed to see the movie?

Which film do you imagine this Polish poster is advertising?

You're going to find this very hard to believe, but I've checked and double-checked - and apparently it's the 1984 Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner romantic adventure movie... Romancing the Stone! While the Communist-era Poles produced many great posters, there seemed to be an absolute determination to remove any hint of fun, glamour or entertainment from their movie marketing. Did they feel that the audience just too depressed to respond? Or were the artists themselves too sunk in gloom to feel up to making creative whoopee? Or did they just have to be very, very careful not to suggest that life in the West might be one continuous high-octane laugh-riot, fuelled by gorgeous babes and an endless supply of alluring consumer goods? I have no idea, but the next tranche of posters for extremely amusing, relentlessly upbeat films do seem deliberately, wilfully joyless:
That was for Raiders of the Lost Ark. So was this:
I feel better already!
Back to the Future. Wow - I really can't wait to see it!
Dark, taut psychological thriller about a sex-murderer? Nope. Working Girl.
Interkosmos was Innerspace, one of the lightest, most ridiculous, most mood-enhancing bits of fluff to emerge from Hollywood in the 1980s. Not that you'd know it.
Barbarella was incredibly silly, but glossily stylish and hugely entertaining - and Jane Fonda looked absolutely sensational in it. Would it have killed the artist to even hint at any of that? Or that the film was, you know, fun
Star Wars. I'm not joking.
Starman. You know, the one with Jeff Bridges as a goofy alien stuck on Earth. Pure Cinematic pleasure - but better not tell anyone. Then, when they decide to let people know that a film might actually be enjoyable, they get it completely and absolutely wrong:
It's The Graduate. Funny, granted - but not exactly the mindless sex romp suggested by the floating comedy breasts. Again, were the illustrators allowed to see the films? The next poster, for Rosemary's Baby, would suggest they weren't:
For `all her charms, Mia Farrow had limbs like a stick-insect's. Who exactly is this strapping, meaty-thighed Valkyrie?  This one's much better - clever - but, again, can we be better certain the artist had actually seen the movie?
And, while the next poster is very effective, there's no proof that the artist had anything more to go on than a brief plot summary:
No, it isn't about a member of the Polish LGBT community called Wojenne - it's a poster for the delightful 1983 techno-thriller War Games, in which a computer hacker (played by an impossibly young Matthew Broderick) almost starts World War III after responding "yes" to the question, "Shall we play a game?"

If you'd watched the 1979 classic horror film, Alien, would you have produced this irrelevant, meaningless image?
The Shining? Really? 
All right, the creators of the next two posters might have watched the films - but were evidently left badly traumatised by them:
Ref should have stopped it earlier, I reckon.
No, thanks - I've just remembered I've got to wash my hair tonight. And I think I've got a migraine coming on. And there's a TV documentary about tractors I'd hate to miss...

Poles aren't like this. We all know that, because - as you might have noticed - there are quite a few of them now living here in the UK. If they're all humourless depressives, they manage to mask it incredibly well. So what was going on with these posters? I will do some more research and report back.  To redress the balance, I'll leave you with a couple of excellent Polish movie posters:

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