The first thing that strikes you about Janus Films’ brand new poster for Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s rediscovered and restored 1972 TV mini-series—beyond the impeccable ’70s illustration pastiche and unusually muted palette—is that everyone is smiling. Happiness is not something one associates with Fassbinder, and smiling happy faces are not something one associates with Fassbinder posters. But Gottfried John and Hanna Schygulla are positively beaming in this poster, giving it an unlikely I’d Like To Buy the World a Coke vibe. Look closer and yes, there are dourer faces below, scenes of a factory, and what looks like a housing project, but the initial impression is a joyful one. And that makes sense, because the mini-series was an unusually optimistic and upbeat work for Fassbinder: a working-class family soap opera that put its faith in the power of collective action. As Aliza Ma wrote in Film Comment last year, after the series was revived at the Berlinale, “quite unexpectedly, Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day is perhaps Fassbinder’s most humanist—even approaching feel-good—work.”
The poster is beautifully painted by Sam Hadley, a British illustrator now living in Ireland who specializes in advertising, editorial and packaging illustration. As far as I can tell from his website, his only other movie poster work has been a couple of spoof subway posters for Justworks which you can see below, but one only has to look at his retro portfolio to see what would endear him to Janus/Criterion’s art director Eric Skillman for this project. I saw the Eight Hours poster in the flesh yesterday at New York’s Film Forum—where the series will play for two weeks later this month—and it was perfectly situated beneath this late ’60s Italian Bergman poster, next to which, style-wise (factories and all), it fit right in.
Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day plays at Film Forum from March 14 to 27. Many thanks to Ben Crossley-Marra and Janus Films.