The celebrated Polish School of movie posters is a curious case of creativity flourishing under Communist rule. In a system allergic to commercialism, artists had to come up with novel ways for advertising films. Experimentation with graphics, typography and illustration techniques yielded unique and often startlingly original solutions for communicating the content and meaning of films.
Jerzy Flisak, who passed away last year, was a prolific poster and book illustrator. Created in 1979, his poster for Young Frankenstein (1974) may be the most original illustrated interpretation ever made for that film. Flisak chose the hooded, wall-eyed Igor as the focus of his poster, with half of his face cut away to reveal the grinning skull beneath, suggesting the macabre nature of the film’s humor. A semi-robotic hand evokes the Frankenstein concept. It’s an unusual poster, atypical but enormously satisfying.
In 1989, the era of highly symbolic illustrated posters came to a sudden end when film distribution was privatized. Today, cinemas in Poland carry the same bland, star-centric, mass-produced movie advertising materials used all over the world.