Friday, January 15, 2010

The Original Movie Poster?

What did they do for entertainment?

Putting up Paper Film Billboards Cairo 1991


Paper advertising like this is becoming less common everywhere. In Egypt billboard and large wall images are usually printed on vinyl these days (photos John Green).

Monday, January 11, 2010

BBC article in Persian: Pre-revolutionary Iranian Film Poster Exhibition

See it Here.

The exhibit is in Stockholm Sweden at the Ethnographic Museum under the title "Popular Culture before the Revolution." Most of the posters in the exhibition are from the 1950s and 1960s. The oldest one is for the film Ladder of Progress [nardban-e taraqi] from 1957, by Parviz Khatibi, which featured singing and dancing from the popular entertainer Mahvash. The exhibit will run until 21 February.

Anders Bjorklund, museum director, said it is very important for people who study the East to pay attention to film posters from an anthropological point of view.

A Gypsy's Anger [khashm-e kuli] (1968) starring Fardin and Puri Banai


This poster has a heroic look that looks inspired by the art of Soviet Russia. It is for a film starring the popular actor Fardin about a boy who was estranged from his family, adopted by Gypsies then grows up to fall in love with his cousin, not knowing she is his cousin, according to Iranian film encyclopedist Jamal Omid in his Dictionary of Iranian Films farhang-e filmha-ye sinemai-ye iran.


The exhibit consists of 50 photos and 30 posters from a collection of about 180 posters from Iran collected by Mostafa Ebadi, who lives in Sweden but has accumulated the collection over the last 10 years in trips to Iran. Ebadi is a film fan and before he began collecting Iranian posters he liked to collect foreign posters, especially Italian posters and posters for Westerns.

Mostafa Ebadi


The article has an interview with Ali Hasouri, a researcher on Iranian history and culture who opened the exhibition. Hasouri commented on the design elements needed in film posters as evident in these Iranian ones, on the influence of Indian film in Iranian pre-revolutionary films and on the tendency in these films to portray women negatively.

Regarding the artists who made the posters, Hasouri said they were a small group of poor people who worked up to 14 hours a day for very low wages. He said "most of them worked on the floor in dark isolated rooms with minimum resources. It often occurred that the posters were made in only one day with oil and color in large dimensions. In reality these were creative artists who were obliged to use such methods to feed themselves."

My thanks to Mahtab for sending me the link to the article.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Soviet Export Film Posters

The former Soviet Union produced thousands of films in a long run
of more than 60 years. Exporting these films was a major national
industry, and the posters were made for distribution in multiple nations in multiple languages. The posters for Soviet export films are bound to constitute an overwhelmingly massive category in the world cinema poster catalogue, but I have not seen any reference material on the subject.

My small collection is a chance accumulation, mostly from Egypt:

Adventures of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1980) starring Dharmendra, directed by Latif Faiziyev.
This film was made in India and the Soviet Union at Uzbekfilm (USSR) and Eagle Film Studios (India). The poster measures 31x47 inches; my guess is it was made for distribution in India, but the copy I have turned up in Egypt.


Tsirk (1936) starring Lyubov Orlova, directed by Grigori Aleksandrov. This poster is an undated rerelease. Judging from the aging of the paper I would put the date of the rerelease somewhere in the 1960s or 1970s. The poster has all the hallmarks of Egyptian poster production, printed by al-Nasr printers with art by Abdel Rahman, a well-known Egyptian poster artist. The English title on the poster "Circus Actors" was probably chosen for the Egyptian market, along with the Arabic title al-sirk al-azim "The Big Circus."


Direction of the Main Blow (1971) directed by Yuri Ozerov. The original Russian title is Osvobozhdenie: Napravleniye glavnogo udara; this is a history film about the Kursk tank battle of World War II. I acquired this 31x44 inch Spanish poster at a show from a Columbian dealer who used to make the rounds regularly at US poster shows.


This is an Egyptian poster for the 1971 film mentioned above, The Direction of the Main Blow. Liberation is an alternate English title for that film.


The Fall of Berlin (1949) starring Mikheil Gelovani as Marshal Josef Stalin, directed by Mikheil Chiaureli. This is an undated Egyptian rerelease, and again judging from the age of the paper I would put the rerelease in the 1960s or 1970s. The original Russian title is Padeniye Berlina. The title in English on the poster is The Battle for Berlin. The Arabic title ma'reket berlin could also be translated as The Battle for Berlin or simply The Berlin Battle.


Elusive Avengers [neulovimye Mstiteli] (1967). Thanks to Anastasia Belozerova for help with this one! The poster design is a collaboration between the artists Sayed Aram and Moaty, printed by al-Nasr printers.

Watch on YouTube


Modern Weapons Power (ND). I have not found any information about the film beyond what it says on the poster. The Arabic in blue at the top translates as "the most powerful documentary film since the film The Second World War; then comes the Arabic title in red letters The Secrets of Modern Weapons. The Arabic phrase in black at top right identifies it as a poster for a Soviet Export film.


Risk II (1989). This is a poster for a Soviet Export documentary film about World War II.


Romeo and Juliet (1955) starring Galina Ulanova as Juliet, directed by Lev Amshtam and Leonid Lavrovsky, based on the play by William Shakespeare with music by Sergei Prokofiev. This poster measures 28" x 42" and turned up in Iran. It was probably intended for distribution in multiple countries.


Father of a Soldier (1964) starring Sergo Zagariadze, directed by Rezo Chkheidze. The poster is Egyptian in a non-standard Egyptian size 26.75x39.5 inches, again with art by Abdel Rahman and printed by al-Nasr printers. The Arabic title is al-ab The Father.


Zhavoronok (1964) starring Gennadi Yukhtin, directed by Nikita Kurikhin and Leonid Menaker. This Soviet war movie is about an incident instead of a battle, where some Russian prisoners are used as target practice in a T-34 tank by the Germans in World War II. The Arabic title is al-modmeret al-qatela "The Murderous Destroyer" with the English title "T-34" at the top of the poster.

Force Majeure Circumstances (ND)

I could not find any information about this film because none of the people involved in its creation are mentioned on the poster. Based on the age of the paper I think this is for a film from the 1980s.

Secrets of Madame Wong (1986) - (Armen Dzhigarkhanyan) Egyptian film poster



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