Movie Poster of the Week: Mondo’s “Irma Vep”

This brand new poster from Mondo and Sam Smith could be yours.
Adrian Curry

In a very welcome development for connoisseurs of film graphics, MUBI has partnered with the prodigiously creative talents at Mondo to launch a new series of limited-edition posters for films we love. The “New Art for Timeless Cinema” series kicks off with Olivier Assayas’s modern classic Irma Vep (now playing on MUBI in the United States, and coming soon to the platform around the world). To get your hands on this beautiful screen-printed 18" x 24" poster, designed by artist Sam Smith (no stranger to this column), simply invite your friends to join MUBI. When five of them start a free trial, the poster is yours! You can find out more at

I asked Sam to share his thoughts on his design process as well as some of his alternative designs

I jumped at the chance to design something for this movie, which exists in an elite category as one of the most meta, self-reflective films to ever be made about the filmmaking process and specifically the image and identity of the film actor/actress. After rewatching Assayas’ film and luxuriating in the abstract, graphic feast that is its climax, I realized I had my work cut out for me and could be easily stumped. My first thought was to pay homage to the famous Les vampires poster by recreating it for Irma Vep, but it required a hand-painted approach I might not be cut out for. Meanwhile the iconic quality of Maggie Cheung in her latex bodysuit stuck with me as a shape to focus on, a seductive and mysterious spirit to lure in the viewer. To play in some way with the layered quality of Cheung’s role, I drew the body shape as a more reduced and organic shape, collaging behind it Cheung's photographic eyes, and letting the hand-scrawled title treatment from the opening credits block in this image compositionally, dominating the poster in a red, black, and white scheme.

In an effort to bring Maggie Cheung’s natural beauty to the poster design, I tried a new approach of blowing her face up larger than life and off the page, then placing the sleuthing Cheung inside the larger Cheung’s eye. It was a way to nod to the kaleidoscopic nature of Cheung’s role, and by tucking all the billing and type around this focal point it suggested a poster-within-a-poster for a film-within-a-film. Working in black and white is always so solid, removing the temptations and tangents that come with having color at one’s disposal, and I printed this on a sparkling, textured silver paper to give the screenprint a special and collectible quality.

Watch Irma Vep here and start signing up your friends to make this poster your own. 

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Movie Poster of the WeekOlivier AssayasMondoMaggie CheungSam SmithColumns
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