Polish film posters must be some of the best in the world, and there's a chance to see a selection of around 50 in a new exhibition at Cinéphilia West, running from September 1st to 30th.
Often the designers approach the job very differently than their Western counterparts do: they're more interested in capturing the film's mood or in coming up with something metaphorical. Probably this isn't best for comedies (some of them - rightly or wrongly - seem to come out looking quite bleak, if comedic at all!) but darker stories work brilliantly as the designers get to the heart of the matter in a way that hardly ever happens in the west.
A good example is Roman Kowalik's poster for Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice. The film doesn't include any (literal) crucifixions, the house where everything happens isn't shaped like a church/cross and the hero remains fully-clothed throughout. Yet this image captures the film's tortured and joyful austerity. The image that was used in the West - the finale's solitary sapling worked well enough as a symbol of hope but it almost gave too much away: even without seeing the film, Tarkovskians would probably guess that that was how it ended. Kowalik leaves us wondering how (I don't suppose 'whether' was ever up for grabs) the anonymous man will escape. Or even if he wants to.
There are too many great posters to put in a single blog entry, but here's one of my favourites: Andrzej Pagowski's haunting image for Kieślowski's A Short Film About Love (Krótki film o miłości, 1988). It brilliantly captures the film's desperate ambiguity regarding what I suppose might have once been called the ownership of the gaze.
Here's the press release from The Polish Cultural Institute and there'll be some more information on the Cinéphilia West website in due course. Note that the exhibition is at Cinéphilia West, on Westbourne Grove, rather than the HQ, off Brick Lane.
And now: a little competition, I've removed the title etc from this poster for a very famous film. Anyone identifying it will win ... a lifetime's subscription to this blog!