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