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Reel time Chart the history of cinema, de­sign and the course of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury in this look back at promo box of­fice im­agery

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What in­sights lie within Sell­ing The Movie: The Art of the Film Poster?

Author Ian Haydn Smith Pub­lisher White Lion Pub­lish­ing Price £25 Web www.quar­to­knows.com Avail­able Oc­to­ber

There’s a game you can play while read­ing through this book: spot the ones from var­i­ous bed­rooms in your life. Maybe Steinlen’s Chat Noir poster takes you back to stu­dent dorms, or per­haps your edgy cousin stuck Scar­face above their bed after they smoked their first joint.

No mat­ter which ones con­nect with you, this book is a great re­minder that film posters have in­fil­trated our lives in a way that few medi­ums can. There’s

Each chap­ter looks at notable de­sign­ers and move­ments of the time

more to Sell­ing The Movie than nos­tal­gia, though. Over the course of nearly 300 pages, author Ian Haydn Smith does an ad­mirable job of con­dens­ing the history of movie posters from around the world.

In his in­tro­duc­tion Ian con­fesses that such a story is never go­ing to be com­pre­hen­sive. Bol­ly­wood posters, for ex­am­ple, could com­fort­ably fill up their own book and barely scratch the sur­face of the genre. So what we get is a west­ward-lean­ing ac­count with smat­ter­ings of in­ter­na­tional cinema posters to round off the tale.

After Ian’s in­tro­duc­tion we’re given an out­line of the ori­gins of the film poster, com­plete with a look at how they evolved from de­signs used for ad­ver­tise­ments and pub­lic an­nounce­ments. Then the chap­ters are split into decades, start­ing from 1910. Each chap­ter con­tains sub-sec­tions that look at notable de­sign­ers and move­ments of the time, along with posters that de­fined each decade. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing to track how at­ti­tudes change and how his­tor­i­cal events shape aes­thet­ics. Blax­ploita­tion, China’s Fifth Gen­er­a­tion of film­mak­ers and Ital­ian ne­o­re­al­ism to name but a few all get a look in, as read­ers get a primer in ev­ery as­pect of cin­e­matic history.

And that’s one of the joys of this book: there’s none of the film-buff pre­ten­sion weigh­ing it down. Whether you’re a cinephile or a lan­tern show lud­dite, any­one can find a way into the story of the film poster. Just be sure to grab some pop­corn first.

The lin­eage of early French cinema posters can be traced in part to the leg­endary lithog­ra­phy poster for the Moulin Rouge.

Bill Gold used red, white and blue to sig­nify James Cag­ney’s em­bod­i­ment of the Amer­i­can dream.

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