It’s a little-known fact outside of Poland, and a less-than-widely known fact within Poland, that Polish poster art is among the best in the world. A lot of people with impressive qualifications claim that it is THE best in the world, and I’m not about to argue. I love them. If I could figure out how to get hold of the originals and print off copies to sell to students I’d be a millionaire in a snap.
This is one of my favourites. Anyone who’s seen it can guess immediately which movie it’s for:
Poster for the 1973 movie Day of the Jackal by Eryk Lipinski
As recently as ten or twenty years ago the Poles were able to get away with using radically different poster styles to advertise movies. Today you see exactly the same artwork on movie posters here as you do across the world. Shrek posters in Poland look exactly the same as Shrek posters in the US, just with the words translated. I don’t know why the situation changed, but it’s a hell of a shame. Have a look at these two posters for major blockbuster movies of the 1980s:
Poster for the 1986 movie Platoon by Andrzej Pagowski
Poster for the 1980 movie Superman III by Grzegorz Marszalek
Somehow I feel they’re better movies that I might have thought otherwise.
Sometimes the transformation through the eye of the Polish artists can be quite bizarre. Consider the following poster for the lighthearted Peter Sellers’ Pink Panther comedy:
Poster for the 1978 movie Revenge of the Pink Panther by Marek Ploza-Dolinski
What the hell’s going on there?! Looks like Peter Sellers’ head transposed onto the body of a bicep-popping Arnie Schwarzenegger.
But when they’re good, they’re really really good. I give you The Bridge on the River Kwai, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Shinning:
Poster for the 1957 movie The Bridge on the River Kwai by Mieczyslaw Wasilewski
Poster for the 1968 movie Rosemary’s Baby by Andrzej Pagowski
Poster for the 1980 movie The Shining by Leszek Zebrowski
Stunning stuff. I don’t know why Polish people don’t make more of a big deal about this stuff.
By the way, there’s a fabulous Museum of Polish poster art in Warsaw.