I love movie posters.
I know that seems sort of obvious, but if going to the movies is my church (and I think it is), then great movie posters are a sort of article of faith for me, objects that connect me to that thing I love. One of the reasons I wanted to work at a movie theater when I was a teenager was so that I could have access to the movie posters, and I amassed an absurdly large collection of them, taking home everything that interested me and wallpapering my bedroom to the point where there were posters on top of posters on top of posters, a visual assault of movie-related imagery that I loved waking up to every morning.
Watching the evolution of movie posters over the last 20 years has been sort of disheartening. Movie advertising in general has become very slick and calculated, and it all looks generally the same. You see trends where one trailer does something and 50 trailers do the exact same thing because it worked. You see posters that look like they took an intern 30 minutes to create in Photoshop. You see an indifference to the idea of movie posters as art, and they are disposable as a result.
Mondo, one of the cornerstones of the Drafthouse empire, has worked very hard to change that over the last few years, and thanks to work like theirs, movie posters are starting to flourish again. Maybe not for studio releases as they’re actually in the theater, but the notion that anyone can make a poster for any film they love seems to have taken root and blossomed into a full-blown movement. I love that people are taking influence from all sorts of different places, and there are some amazing things out there like Reelizer that celebrate the posters and the movies that they immortalize.
Right now, the Mondo team is doing a special tribute to the Academy Awards, and they’ve already posted “Rango” and “Hugo.” Their “Hugo” poster was spectacular, inspired, and totally captured the film’s soul. Now, I’ve been sent an exclusive first look at the poster they’re doing for Best Foreign Language Film nominee “Bullhead.” Makes sense. After all, Drafthouse Films picked up the Belgian movie and earned their first Academy Award nomination for the effort. It’s a dark, powerful movie that is finally open in limited release, and it will be opening wider on February 24 and March 2. I’d certainly urge you to see the movie anyway, but Mondo wants to give an amazing piece of art to share with you, that’s just a bonus.
Jay Shaw, who designed the poster, used the world of Polish movie posters as his inspiration for the image, and if you’re not familiar with how striking and surreal Polish posters can be, then let me share a few examples with you.
Are you familiar with the John Carpenter adaptation of Stephen King’s “Christine”? The American poster is good, a strong image of the car, but the Polish poster? Bananas. Look at this.
Love it. And Hitchcock’s masterpiece “Vertigo,” my favorite of his movies, has one of the greatest pieces of key art from the ’50s, as iconic as American posters get. Even so, leave it to the Poles to do something crazy that somehow captures the film just right in a whole new way.
How do you sum up “Blade Runner”? Try this.
Get the picture? They’re adventurous, experimental, and abstract, and so Jay Shaw decided to try that for “Bullhead.” I’ll let him explain what he did, though, and then show you one last example of Polish art that he mentions.
“The first Polish film poster I ever saw was tacked to a wall in a video store. The poster featured a very loose illustration of a pink human ribcage with eyeballs protruding from the middle. I asked the clerk about the poster and when he told me it was a Polish piece for the movie ‘Alien’ I fell in love. I got home and spent the entire evening researching eastern European film art. I saw that a lot of my favorite films had a Polish poster created at some point. Blade Runner, Vertigo, Christine; all beautiful works of Polish poster art. What fascinates me about that school of design is how loose and surreal their interpretations of films are. It’s almost like they’re illustrating a dream about the movie rather than the movie itself. Polish film posters get me excited to see films in a way very few American posters do. The distillation of complex subjects into a single image is an extraordinarily effective method of artistic communication. I try very hard to approach each project I work on with that in mind.”
Here’s the “Alien” image that he’s talking about:
And now, finally, here’s the One Thing I Love Today, Mondo’s exclusive new poster for the Academy Award-nominated “Bullhead”:
Can you blame me?
ONE THING I LOVE TODAY appears here every day. Yep. Every day.