12 Hollywood Film Posters Made In Communist Poland

12 Hollywood Film Posters Made In Communist Poland

Avatar of John Sanchez

By: John Sanchez

March 13, 2017

Design 12 Hollywood Film Posters Made In Communist Poland
Avatar of John Sanchez

By: John Sanchez

March 13, 2017

Is the film industry bigger than the art of cinema?

Polish Poster Art-w636-h600

Behind each production there’s an entire process of advertising, marketing, sales, among several other strategies. But where does it all come from? An image, of course. Through a glimpse, an intriguing premise, a keyhole perspective of what the film’s esthetic will be, movie posters have long been an important tool that can make or break a movie’s initial reception.  

However, that is not always the case. Poster art had a different story in Poland. At the end of the nineteenth century and the start of the twentieth, Warsaw and Cracow were places full of culture and art. Techniques such as lithography, as well as the influence of Toulouse-Lautrec, turned the country into one of the birthplaces of modernist Avant-garde and Art Nouveau.

By the thirties, poster making had become an established industry, particularly in the areas of marketing and tourism. It was also slowly moving towards a more polished and minimalist esthetic.

On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, forever changing the media’s narrative needs. At the end of the conflict, when Poland had become a state associated to the Soviet Union, the art of posters became geared towards ideological and political propaganda. It was seen as a method of unifying the nation’s sentiments. Since the country was now under communist rule, the new government needed a way to spread the new esthetic. This led to the Polish School of Posters opening in the fifties.

From the fifties until well into the eighties, the communist system monitored Poland’s film industry. While Hollywood was used to control every last detail of the promotional campaigns of its films, there was nothing it could do against the censorship regime that came from the socialist state. However, these restrictions proved fruitful to the local poster artists, who saw this as a way to use their creativity to forge their own artistic and esthetic identity.

Polish Poster Art Radion-w636-h600

While these designs are quite bizarre and peculiar –to the point where they barely resemble the film they’re promoting–, they provide a unique style. These creations are made through the blending of different techniques, such as illustration, silk-screen printing, collaging, and the use of stills.

Here are 12 Hollywood movie posters that were made during this complicated time..

Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
Design by: Waldemar Swierzy

Polish Poster Art Sunset Boulevard-w636-h600

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
Design by: Roman Cieslewicz

Polish Poster Art Vertigo-w636-h600

Barbarella (Roger Vadim, 1968)
Design by: Jan Mlodozeniec

Polish Poster Art Barbarella-w636-h600

Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972)
Design by: Wiktor Gorka

Polish Poster Art Cabaret-w636-h600

Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
Design by: Andrezej Klimowski

Polish Poster Art Taxi Driver-w636-h600

Star Wars
 (George Lucas, 1977)
Design by: Jakub Erol

Polish Poster Art Star Wars-w636-h600

The Legacy (Richard Marquand, 1978)
Design by: Unknown

Polish Poster Art The Legacy-w636-h600

Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
Design by: Leszek Zebrowski

Polish Poster Art Apocalypse Now-w636-h600

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
Design by: Leszek Zebrowski

Polish Poster Art The Shining-w636-h600

Tootsie (Sidney Pollack, 1982)
Design by: Wieslaw Walkuski

Polish Poster Art Tootsie-w636-h600

Terminator (James Cameron, 1984)
Design by: Jakub Erol

Polish Poster Art Terminator-w636-h600

Working Girl (Mike Nichols, 1988)
Design by: Andrzej Pagowski

Polish Poster Art Working Girl-w636-h600

Currently artists and designers are able to make their own versions of film posters to sell them as one-of-a-kind pieces or show them in a gallery, but poster art is no longer a massive institution of art. The fall of communism, added the population’s strain over austerity and censorship laws, led to capitalism taking over. The Polish film industry was privatized. The only things left from that past are pieces of the most abstract kind of art.

Poster making is closely linked to political, economic, and sociocultural change. This type of art played a crucial role in some of history’s most important moments. Which is why they’re a valuable tool to understand the ideology of a particular time, context, and society.

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Translated by María Suárez