Sad Hill Media

Film & Lesser Arts with Will Ross, Devan Scott, & Daniel Jeffery.

Jul 29, 2010

Polish Movie Posters

by Will Ross

Great movie posters are really hard to come by. Few of them are very pleasing to look at, and even fewer really hold up as great works of art.

So imagine my surprise when I found out Poland's film posters regularly equal or surpass even the greatest films they advertise. They're works of stunning originality that conform to no set formulas. They are routinely gorgeous.

Apocalypse Now.

This is as excellent an introduction to Polish posters as any I can think of. Rather than selling a plot, premise, or genre, Polish posters tend to be purely expressionistic, using imagery from or inspired by the film to evoke mood. In this case, it perfectly encompasses the surrealistic madness and breakdown in the midst of violence at the dark heart of Apocalypse Now. Most brilliantly, there is no trace of Vietnam in the image; the only connection to war is the suggestion of spears in the lines. All too proper considering that the film's trip down the river is essentially a journey back in time, and a perfect summarization of the central character of Kurtz.

Read More

High Noon.

In contrast to the surrealism of that last poster, here is High Noon's. The poster presents the film's uncommonly dark moral explorations in an old west setting with stunning irony: It mimics the covers of old west dime novels, yet the sheriff here stands in deliberate contrast to their romanticism and adventure. A very neat expression of the film's status as both an engrossing, accessible western and a depiction of the solitude of human courage and loyalty. Ingenius stuff.


This is the first Polish poster I ever saw. The brilliance of it is just how little of the film is given away (Alien is a film well-served by surprise). The famous American "egg" poster is memorable in its own right, but it doesn't communicate the film's psychological and physical internal horror as intriguingly as this one does.


Not all of these posters are completely bizarro or unfamiliar, as the style seen in this piece, though uncommon, has been seen in American posters before. Its greatness, once again, is its suggestion of the film's antagonists as an internal threat, primordially linked to the protagonist, this time in the form of dark bubbles (blood cells?). They rise from her bosom, a detail in unison with the film's maternal themes. I love that these posters emphasize the themes and feelings of a film rather than their most sensational literal aspects!

Young Frankenstein.

Remarkably, posters for comedy films show no comparative lack of originality. Young Frankenstein is a parody of horror films, and this poster dispels any misconceptions about that seeming-dichotomy simply and beautifully, while promising a very funny and silly comedy.

The Empire Strikes Back.

Return of the Jedi.

These perfectly capture the dark science-fiction splendour and scope of the Star Wars films. I'm particularly fond of Return of the Jedi's, showing the destruction and rebirth of Darth Vader with unbelievable dramatic potency. Marvelous.

Citizen Kane.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you why this one is great. This is the best use of the film's iconic political campaign poster I've ever seen.

And in case you wanted evidence of a poster far surpassing its film...

Short Circuit 2.

I can't imagine a better portrayal of a kid-friendly sci-fi comedy: It embodies techno-mayhem family fun. It is manic, brilliantly colourful, filled with simple shapes, and amazingly fun to look at. I've seen Short Circuit 2, and it's nothing special, but this poster makes me want to see that movie!

The incredible thing is that I would by no means call these the best Polish posters I've seen: They were taken practically at random from whatever films came to my head or I was browsing past. Like I said, these posters are routinely ingenius, and though I've exclusively cited American films here, the same goes for films from all around the world. I can imagine walking around a Polish theater lobby as if it were an art gallery.

Why does this work in Poland but not here?

Some more great posters:

The posters seen here, and thousands more, can be found at Enjoy!


Post a Comment