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Movie Poster of the Week: The Top 10 Favorite Posters of La Boca's Scot Bendall

The founder of the studio that brought you the King Kong and Black Swan posters chooses his own favorite designs.

A couple of months ago I featured some exquisite silkscreened King Kong prints designed by the British design studio La Boca. I’ve been following La Boca’s work for the past few years and so I thought a great way to end the year would be to ask the founder of La Boca, Scot Bendall, to talk about some of their influences by sharing with us his ten favorite movie posters of all time.

Scot chose ten posters that have meaning for them as designers. “I think there have been better, and more successful, poster designs for sure—I mean, there isn’t one Saul Bass here for example!—but, the only way I could wrangle down to ten was by selecting posters that have had some personal resonance to our work. I’m also a (very amateur) Czech/Polish poster collector, so they feature quite prominently.”

Here are his choices and comments:

1. Above: German poster for M (Fritz Lang, Germany, 1931); designer unknown.

“Perhaps one of my favourite movie posters of all time, and easily the first choice for this list. It’s a good example of what I think all great movie posters should do, which is to add something to the experience of the movie—to accompany it rather than simply attempting to sell it. It’s an image full of power and intrigue, which resonates with the themes of the movie. Aside from this, it’s a beautifully rendered image that holds the rare ability to be able to force a viewer to look back at it.” [You can see the influence of this design on La Boca’s book cover for Nicholas Blake’s The Beast Must Die.]

2. 1973 Czech poster for Fellini’s Roma (Federico Fellini, Italy, 1972); designer: Zdeněk Ziegler (b. 1932).

“My wife grew up in communist-controlled Czechoslovakia where all film releases were government-controlled and where all marketing material used in the original countries was dismissed. As in Poland and Cuba this presented opportunities for Czech designers to create posters that can often seem like exercises in artistic interpretation more than commercial tools to attract an audience. Zdeněk Ziegler is one of the masters of Czech movie posters from this time. He was equally convincing with both type and image, and quite often showed how type alone could effectively project character and mood through the use of its forms.”

3. 1967 Polish poster for With Beauty and Sadness (Masahiro Shinoda, Japan, 1965); designer: Maciej Hibner (b. 1931).

“I’m a huge fan of Polish poster art, and Maciej Hibner in particular. I’m now fortunate to have an original of this and it’s even more beautiful in real life. It’s quite a skill to be able to express this much emotion in such simplified forms. Hibner is very good at this form of economical design, and it’s a skill that looks far easier than it actually is!”

4. Unused US poster design for Zabriskie Point (Michelangelo Antonioni, USA, 1970); designer: Milton Glaser (b. 1929).

“Milton Glaser is a big inspiration to our work. This poster interprets the stunningly beautiful explosion scene at the end of the movie, and emphasises the overarching theme of the movie by presenting icons of US culture casually exploding amongst the debris. Somehow this becomes an even more powerful story when told though primary colours!” 

5. 1977 Cuban poster for Cria Cuervos (Carlos Saura, Spain, 1976); designer: Eduardo Muñoz Bachs (1937-2001).

“Like Polish and Czech posters from the same period, this was most likely constructed without the same commercial considerations you’d expect from studios and distributors today. This can be seen most obviously in the size of the type here! It’s a freedom of interpretation that wouldn’t necessarily make the film more successful, but does often produce stunning pieces of artwork like this.”

6. 1972 Polish poster for Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR, 1972); designer: Andrzej Bertrandt (b. 1938).

“This poster has been such an influence to us over the years it just had to be included here. I also like the original Russian poster, but somehow this Polish version manages to capture the spirit of the movie more successfully. Again, a poster that expands on the movie, without featuring a specific scene or character. This poster feels like it wouldn’t be out of place within the movie itself.”

7. 1927 Soviet poster for The Knight’s Move (Raymond Bernard, France, 1924); designers: Vladimir Stenberg (1899-1982) and Georgii Stenberg (1900-1933).

“I could easily fill this entire list with Russian posters from this period, and even just with posters specifically by the Stenberg brothers. The emotion they capture in expressions is always extremely powerful. The use of colour and composition is radical, and in many cases far more inventive than anything seen in movie posters since.”

8. German poster for Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, UK, 1968); designer: Heinz Edelmann (1934-2009).

“After art-directing the movie, it would’ve been easy for Heinz Edelmann to simply use a few of the existing illustrations for this German release poster. Instead he pushes the style a little bit further and creates a new image featuring the same familiar characters but in a less restrained style, much looser, free-flowing and darker than the movie itself. It almost feels like a reaction to the movie, or a need by the artist to not repeat himself.”

9. French poster for Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1946); designer: Pierre Segogne (1890-1958).

“I’m sure the other guys at La Boca are sick of seeing this poster because I seem to roll it out every time we have discussions about good use of colour (which we do often!). It’s simply a great example of a restrained colour palette being used to its full potential. Purple and burnt orange are not two colours you’d usually expect to work well together, but here they combine to great effect, creating a very atmospheric image in the process.”

10. 1972 Polish poster for Seksolatki (Zygmunt Hubner, Poland, 1972); designer: Maciej Zbikowski (b. 1935).

“Maciej Zbikowski is another Polish poster designer that has had quite a big influence on our work. The posters always feel so optimistic to me—they seem to belong to a happier world than the one we live in. It’s the inventive angle of this particular image that makes it successful, but is also a great example of Zbikowski’s signature use of simple shapes in outlined block colours.”


Many thanks to Scot. You can see more of La Boca’s work on their website. And if you see Joaquin Phoenix or the Arctic Monkeys sporting a “Lucifer” bomber jacket inspired by Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising, that’s theirs too.

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Ah, I like that poster for Zabriskie Point – although I don’t remember any flying hamburger in the film’s climax. It’s a little odd, but just the past two days, when I was browsing through my own photo albums on Google+, I happened to think, specifically, about Zabriskie Point, so I guess that feeling did mystically prepared me for this flying hamburger. * A while ago I watched C. Chabrol’s Au cœur du mensonge and made up my mind about its artistic value – it is as emotionally powerful as Lang’s M. Yet all the posters for the film I’ve found turned out to be relatively polite and modest – not as expressive as the poster for M above, so to speak. I though, though not a graphic designer myself, that if I was to design a poster for Au cœur du mensonge, it would probably be a drawing the murdered girl made.
A fine set of posters, including some of my own favorite (and famous) choices. However, I have a problem with Heinz Edelmann’s work for Yellow Submarine. In all the other posters we see that color/space/size/text/style usually conform to a central image supported by a neutral background of one color, or in the case of Maciej Zbikowski’s poster 2 muted colors form the background, their splice hidden by the terrific low POV of the duo from Seksolatki. These help the central image “pop,” or visually grab the viewer’s attention, generally with a pertinent image from the film, or in Milton Glazer’s work, he used many American commodities exploded in space, but unified into one center all centrifugally hanging from the large block text of the title “Zabriski Point.” Each defines a singularity, both pertinent to the film story and artistically inviting to the psyche. The Yellow Submarine poster however uses a drab, smoky background with colors which melt into the myriad animated figures, there is no “pop” but a blending of almost confused colors and images dependent on a rather ugly yellow/green. True the 4 Beatles stand out a bit at the bottom third of the page, but their deeper saturation doesn’t quite do the trick, still blending into an edge to edge barrage of non-differentated images sloshing around in some pool of confusion rather than distinction. There’s always the chance that had I seen an original poster master print, the colors may work much better and I can hang my criticisms on a hook by the door. Of course, this is merely a bias, or opinion on my part. But I thank you for offering Scot Bendall’s choices and reasons. Bravo!
With Beauty and Sadness: heh – gonna use that blue square in an image. Good stuff…
A wonderful selection. Polish posters alone would fill a ten image list for me. But there are so many other incredible works out there. I have never seen the Milton Glaser image for ZP. Quite different than the photo choice MGM made. My YELLOW SUBMARINE is a large Italian poster with the same graphics and it is one of the most talked about I have ever shown. It brilliantly tells almost everything that can be said about the movie except that it is music filled and it presumes we know that. Seeing it in person does make a lot of difference. http://www.edibleimagetoppers.com.au/image/cache/data/designer%20toppers/concert-poster-toppers/concert-poster-topper-107-750×750.jpg

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